Chenonceau Castle, Gamay, and a new AOC Touraine Chenonceaux: EU Austerity Drinking Tour #50

Before our EU Austerity Drinking Tour leaves the central Loire for it’s Atlantic Coast, we have to squeeze in a castle.

Think of Bordeaux.  You probably think of famed Châteaux.  But most of those are 19th century, retro-wannabes.  Only true, Renaissance, Disney-princess-filled châteaux litter the Loire like creamy, crenelated flies on a strip.


Just a few biggies.

We pick Chenonceau because it’s on every postcard, looks mad, and bad-ass Catherine de’ Medici reigned from there.

A train carries us South East of Tours.  We land at the massive gate-step of Chenonceau in an hour.

Vine trellises butt right up against the station.

Chenonceaux VINES

Taking advantage of some sun.

Vine-curious, we let the tourist hordes attack the castle.  We nestle between two rows and start guessing:

Now, yes, that was Gamay: a large, fruity, low-tannin grape (in)famously being guzzled right now, in the form of 2013’s Beaujolais Nouveau:


@waywardwine just tweeted about this decent but twangy effort (click photo).

Gamay also turns up in Loire reds under the AOC: Touraine Rouge.

But, little did we know, that in 2011, Touraine Chenonceaux AOC became its own Appellation.  It is so young, even the mighty Wikipedia has yet to add it.  The AOC runs along the Cher River for 10 miles in either direction of Chenonceau village.  Mild slopes of limestone define the terroir.  Only a dry white (sauv. blanc) and a dry red blend (malbec, cab franc, gamay) are allowed.


Pretty tasty.

My thinking is the Château’s fame probably mattered more than preserving wine traditions or terrior differences.  (Touraine Azay-le-Rideau has profited from the same trick since 1939).  And who could blame Chenonceau.  It is breathtaking:


Floating world.

From it’s massive arbor paths:


Just like our backyard (if we had one).

To its twisting ceiling:


Crossed eyed already.

Up its forced-perspectival staircase:


It’s only a meter or two long.

Up to it’s wood-ribbed hall:



Into it’s bedazzling, tapestried bedrooms:


More gold thread count then my brain can handle

Down to the ballroom:


Dressed appropriately?

Further down to the kitchen:


Cozy being part of the masses.

And finally, back out to its sky-lit gardens:



I say, let the Chenonceau have its château-designated AOC.  Sure it will mostly confuse the already complex and endless appellations of the Loire Valley.  But tourists will lap it up, and its winemakers can afford to improve their wine.  We never tried Touraine Chenonceaux.  But it’s château and grapes are pretty damned good.


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3 Responses to Chenonceau Castle, Gamay, and a new AOC Touraine Chenonceaux: EU Austerity Drinking Tour #50

  1. Are their French wine Police? Can you be fined, OR??? for growing undesignated grapes in a region? Or, would you be excommunicated from neighboring vintners?

  2. Pingback: Nantes, Muscadet, and the vines of Sevre et Maine: EU Austerity Drinking Tour 48 | WAYWARD WINE

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