Vouvray remains a must stop for a wine weekend getaway on the Loire valley wine tasting route. Certainly not as catchy as Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé, but Vouvray and the nearby villages of the appellation are definitely worthwhile.
If You have planned a wine trail in Touraine, this one is for you : a selection of wineries proposing great wine tasting experiences, one great restaurant for the perfect lunch break, and ideas of activities such as taking a stroll in the Vouvray vineyards.
Stop #1: Aperitif at Château Gaudrelle
Here is a very nice address if you want to visit a typical cellar to begin you wine tasting in Vouvray. Located on the banks of the river Loire, the access is very easy, with private parking available, only a few kilometers from the center of Tours. 10 minutes by car, tops.
The wine tasting generally starts with a visit of the cellars. It’s cool in there. Literally cool : the temperature is between 12 and 14° celsius. Ideal temperature for cooling off in the summer. Can be chilly at other times … Even if it is never ideal to visit wine cellars with children, at Château Gaudrelle they can at least enjoy a playful moment of hide and seek throughout the labyrinthic cellar alleyways.
On the wine side, the tasting is professional, with a fairly wide range of white wines on offer, from dry to sweet. The tasting usually begins with sparkling Vouvray before moving on to what the locals call “blanc tranquille” (meaning “dry still white”).
Gaudrelle’s “Turonien” is one would call a typical dry still Vouvray wine. Its name stems from the geological origin of the region’s subsoil. Medium acidity with aromas of pear and citrus. Bolder and more complex is “Le Sec” by Gaudrelle. It is very different, rounder, and nicely balanced. It’s also a little more expensive, of course… But a very good value for money in my opinion. The wine tasting will end on the sweeter wines, either “tender” (lightly sweet) of richly sweet “à la manière” of Coteaux du Layon wines.
After an hour or so of tasting, you will start feeling a pleasant lightness of mind. But also the beginning of a tightness in your stomach. Time to eat.
Stop #2: Heading North, lunch at “Les Gueules Noires”
In fact, the next stop in our Loire valley wine trail of the day is rather at the North East. We said “North” because “Les Gueules Noires” means “the black faces” (the name given to coal miners in the North of France). This restaurant is the kingdom of Catherine and David Segard.
Catherine was born and raised in the area. She also has the responsibility of the wine list (that’s good huh). David is the chef. He is the one with mining ancestors. His cuisine is 100% terroir, always with fresh ingredients from the market and wound up with his northernly personal touch (a waterzooi perhaps?).
Above all, “Les Gueules Noires” is a very nice restaurant located in the heights of Vouvray… remember to book beforehand. The place is rather small, and successful.
Stop #3: A stroll in the Vouvray vineyards
We forgot to mention : “Les Gueules Noires” is located in a privileged location. On the heights of Vouvray, between river and vineyards. In fact, not that close to the river, but definitely close to the vineyards. Leave the restaurant, take a right, go up a hundred yards and there you are, in the vines.
Depending on the season, a walk in the vineyards will always reveal a different perspective. Golden colors of autumn (don’t forget your wellies), invigorating freshness of the tender shades of gree, in spring, sunny and contrasting colours of the summer … which will naturally bring you back to the terrace of David and Catherine’s restaurant for a last glass of deliciously cool Vouvray wine!
Step 4: Wine tasting in the troglodyte cellars of Bourillon Dorléans
Troglodyte or “prehistoric cave”. The locals prefer the shortened version: troglo. At “Bourillon Dorléans”, the cellars are not only carved in the rock, but the rock wall was itself carved by local artists. This beautiful artwork traces the life back in Saint-Martin’s day and the history of vouvray wines.
You will end the visit of the cellar with your wine tasting (don’t try skipping it, Frederic, the winemaker, won’t let you. But really, it is worthwhile). White wines, exclusively. But in all types and varieties, as it should be in Vouvray.
The sparkling (“premium”) wine to begin. You may then be tempted by the sweet wines, always pleasant and joyful for the palate. A nice “mise en jambe”. On to the more complex cuvées such as “L’Indigène” and “Saint-Martin”. These are amazing, complex and subtle dry wines. Rather soft and smooth, with an excellent balance between sweetness and acidity. Long finish. Very long finish. Very good wines. You would never imagine this from the “ordinary still dry wines of Vouvray”.
Ready for a great wine weekend getaway on the Vouvray wine route?
For discovering the area and preparing your Loire valley wine tasting experience, simply use the interactive map of winemakers below.
So what is next?
Go for a 100% perfect wine tasting in Vouvray. Cheers!