Wine Buying Trip to France- 4

Tom Innes testing wines in France

Written by Tom Innes


After lunch at Domaine des Romarins we said our goodbyes and headed off to a village outside Uzès where we had arranged to stay the night, Saint Quentin la Poterie – a wonderful place, with over 40 small artisan potters’ establishments, and a pottery museum, and a wonderful hotel, Clos des Pradines, overlooking the village. We started to check in, and we thought the receptionist had a rather non-French accent, as she thought we did. She asked us, in a lilting Irish brogue, if we spoke English, and we said yes! She had gone on holiday with her family and met a Frenchman, and stayed behind at the end of the holiday – seven years ago.

In the morning we were off to see Thierry Coulomb in Castelnau-Valence, and tasted his Viognier, Sauvignon, and rosé, which he fetchingly calls “Fanny”; all delicious, and I have arranged to buy some, well, quite a lot, actually, of all three wines (his prices are very reasonable).

We were booked to stay the night in Vichy, about 250 miles from Castelnau-Valence, so we hurried off after seeing Monsieur Coulomb, and arrived in the late afternoon. Vichy is a curious, but rather charming place, with the centre dominated by the spa, with covered walkways in Victorian wrought iron. It is quiet in the winter (when we were there), but comes to life in the summer, when, apparently, hordes of very old people descend on the place looking for cures for their aches and pains.

We had booked ourselves a table at a restaurant recommended by Michelin. Although Michelin is generally reliable, it was not on this occasion: the food was the essence of old-style, over-sauced, over-reduced cooking – so rich, that when we got back to our hotel, I was poleaxed, and I collapsed on the bed fully clothed and started snoring. Broo insisted that I should get undressed and get into bed. Of course, though grudgingly, being poleaxed, I obeyed.

The next morning, our first appointment was over a hundred miles away the other side of Bourges, with the Domaine Jacques Rouzé in Quincy. We tasted his delicious Quincy, which I have been buying for getting on for ten years now – it is similar to Sancerre, but better value. We also tasted his Châteaumeillant (80% Gamay, 20% Pinot Noir) and his red Reuilly (100% Pinot Noir) – both delicious – I have bought quantities of both.

Next month – a visit to Bourgueil.