Langlois-Château is located on the “rue de fine bulles” or “sparkling wine road” in Saint-Hilaire Saint-Florent just outside of the city of Saumur. This area of the Pays de la Loire is most widely known for its Crémants de Loire. Have I lost you yet?
Saumur is not far from Angers – maybe 20 minutes – where I started this whole crazy journey in Arts Culinaires et Arts de la Table. It’s a city of about 30,000 people (or so I’m told) and sits right along the Loire river, boasts its own château, cathedral and the best equestrian school in France. It’s a lively town, ready for tourist season, even though the weather is far less than ideal, with activities ranging from nothing more than an outdoor bar in a busy square, to biking, hiking, concerts and yes, plenty of wine.
Saint-Hilaire Saint-Florent lies just to the west of Saumur on the banks of the Thouet River, a tributary to the Loire. Despite its incredibly long name, the village probably has no more than 300 inhabitants – on a good day. There’s a restaurant, a church, two bars, two bakeries, a butcher and a post office. Oh – and lots of wineries.
Ackerman, Veuve Amiot, Bouvet Ladubay are all right next to Langlois Château. I could throw something at Ackerman and Ladubay from my bedroom window if I really wanted to. And they all specialize in the understated Crémant de Loire.
Langlois Château has a few advantages: the first is that they make still wines as well: Saumur Rouge and Blanc, Saumur Champigny, Cabernet de Saumur and a Cabernet d’Anjou. The second is that they are a big-small producer, as they like to call themselves, producing only 1 million bottles a year and selling mostly to restaurants, wine sellers and exporting overseas. This isn’t something you’re going to find in your local supermarket wine section. Third, they have great prices for the quality of their wine and a comprehensive wine-making tour where the visitor learns and sees first hand the basic method of making still and sparkling wines (as well as a very long tasting session). And last, I’m there until mid-September.
Or is that a reason not to go?
I’ve been here for almost two weeks now, and I’d like to think I’m settling in well. Wine is flowing freely, and I spend most of my time studying all of the different flavors and aromas one grape can get up to depending on things like where it’s grown, what the climate is like, and how it’s treated during the fermentation and aging process. The most difficult for me has been retaining all the information coming my way in order to pass it along to the tourists and visitors.
I’ve also been out exploring the town and the region – mostly doing research for my final paper – and trying to stay motivated for this final push in my studies before starting the most daunting and stressful task of all: finding a job when I finish in September.
As I’ve mentioned previously, I am living at the winery itself in an apartment with another of my colleagues. It’s quite a generous arrangement considering I’m not paying any rent. However my kitchen is far from ideal, and my internet access is limited. Thus posts are going to be quite erratic for the next few months.
In the meantime, stay tuned for random thoughts about wine and stories about finding my way tough the Vallée de Loire a I try to complete my research.