Saumur: My Kind of Wine...Though Maybe Not My Kind of Place!

Here’s another post in my intermittent series of “My Kind of Wine…My Kind of Place,” in which I discuss great wines, from great places I’ve been—mostly in France.

This beautiful photo of Saumur is by Martin Falbisoner, via Wikicommons.

This beautiful photo of Saumur is by Martin Falbisoner, via Wikicommons.

I’ve been to Saumur twice in my life. It’s a beautiful town in the Loire Valley; Mick Jagger has a château nearby, btw. And yes, I’ve sought it out (another story for another time….).

Both times I’ve been to Saumur, I’ve been charmed by the town. And yet, at times, I’ve been…let’s just say, “less than charmed” by the people.

Let me be clear: Read this blog, and you’ll know that I’m never one to march in the ongoing “The French Are Rude” parade. I simply don’t find that to be the case, in general, anyway.

But for some reason, both times I’ve visited Saumur, I’ve left scratching my head thinking, “What is wrong with this town?”

Reserve des VigneronsThe first visit, it was simply a question of rude waiter. This fellow was a shockingly impatient guy who pretended that he couldn’t understand my French. (Really—my French is fine; no one is going to mistake me for a native French speaker, but I can always make myself understood). That day, we noticed a coolness of attitude in the cafés and shops we went into, but we got over it after we returned to Chinon, where we were staying in a Logis de France inn, run by an utterly gracious family.

The second visit to Saumur stuck in my craw much more. I was there with my mother, 80 at the time, and we walked into a little shop that had lovely homemade dolls. Mother turned to me and said, “Oh, aren’t these exquisite!

The shopkeeper, obviously misunderstanding what Mother had said, came up to us and launched into a lecture (in English) about how, no, these dolls were NOT expensive, not when you considered how much craftmanship and artistry went into them. She berated my mother with a few choice insults–something about how it was typical that we (meaning foreigners or Americans or English speakers or whatever she thought we were) wanted everything to be cheap, etc. etc.

Well, here’s the deal: You can be rude to me, and I’ll probably let it go. But if you’re rude to my 80-year-old mother, that’s another story. Let’s just say that my response to her was not my finest hour, when it comes to manners, anyway. I let her have it, in French, and then pretty much whisked my mother out of the store to make sure I got the last word.

So, a few years later, when I was on a press trip to the Loire Valley, and our winery visit to Saumur got canceled, I was secretly very happy. Who needs ’em?

However, when I was recently at a local wine shop, I spotted a bottle of a Saumur red for an incredibly reasonable price ($11). As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’m currently on a jag where I only drink French wines (The reason? In short: sane alcohol contents + their food-friendly nature + they taste good). I tried it. I loved it. And I’m willing to give Saumur a chance.

Review of Reserve des Vignerons Saumur 2014

This wine is made from 100% Cabernet Franc, a grape that my wine-hound friend Mark always describes as “crunchy.” Strange thing is, he means that as a compliment. My description would be more like this: Hearty and dry, with plenty of dark-red fruit and that thwacky acidic finish that I love when I’m drinking a red wine with meaty dishes. (Good heavens, I never, ever have understood the idea of  drinking rich, heavy wines with rich, heavy dishes–where’s the refreshment in the sip that sets you up for another rich bite?).

Mmmmm. Coq au Vin.

Mmmmm. Coq au Vin.

Food Pairing: Excellent choice for coq au vin–both in the dish and to drink alongside. Here’s the recipe–never mind what I say there about using Burgundy or cru Beaujolais (from the Eastern side of France).  Yes—those are excellent choices, too, but I’ve had amazing coq au vin in the Loire Valley, made with their Cabernet Franc based reds.

Et vous? Have you enjoyed any great, everyday-priced French reds lately? Do tell!

A few other posts you might enjoy:
My kind of wine, my kind of town: Chinon.
Great Anyday French Wine for Great Anynight French Food
My Kind of Wine: Il Ugo Elderflower Cocktail

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