We left the campsite at Orleans at lunch time and headed towards Sancerre to find another ‘France Passion’ place to stay. As some of you (the white wine lovers at least) will know, Sancerre is rolling hills covered with vine. We are just under two weeks from the ‘vindanges’ which is when they cut the crop and start the wine making process, so we thought we would try and find out more about the wines from the region and selected an independent vineyard from the book to stop for the night at.
The place we had chosen was called Domain Auchere which is located at the end of a little village called Bue about 10km outside Sancerre. As we couldn’t find anyone in, we settled down with a cup of tea but were soon interrupted by ‘Dad’ who owned the house across the road, used to own the family vinyards and evidently liked a glass or two :). He invited us to have a glass of wine with him … which we could hardly refuse despite it being 3pm and explained to us a little about his family and the vineyard. He has passed the majority of the vineyard to his two sons, one on either side of the road, who each make approximately 80,000 bottles of wine a year.
Later on we met the owner of the vineyard who explained that white wine makes up 80% of their crop and that they export approximately 60% of the white wine to the rest of Europe keeping the rest to sell within France. Only 20% of each crop is red and generally it is kept locally or for the Parisiennes. Having tasted it, if you do find any Sancere red on the shelves I definately recommend trying it.
For those of you who didn’t know … and wanted to, White wine is made by pressing the white grapes, rose is also made by pressing the red grapes, and red wine is a much longer distillation process (of approximately 10 days in this case) which draws the colour out of the red grapes. The whole process from cutting the grapes off of the vine through to being ready to send to market takes approximately 3 months, and it isn’t until the 3 month point that they really know if it is a good crop or not.
We bought a couple of bottles of red to take with us and settled into a very peaceful night surrounded by vine (photo to follow)
When we left the vineyard in the morning we headed back towards Sancerre to have a look around. Just before we turned off the main road the night before you could see the town of Sancerre mounted on a hill just across the valley – I wish I had taken a photo as it looked like it was just floating above the cloud. Unfortunately in the morning it was hazy and although beautiful… not to the lens.