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70. Château de Rochecotte – a wonderful hotel


A couple of nights before our stay in Angers (see last month's article) we pampered ourselves and stayed in a real French château, Château de Rochecotte, near the vineyards of Bourgueil in the Loire valley. It was built in the late eighteenth century, and was the home of the Duchesse de Dino and the Prince de Talleyrand.

I had booked it through, and we were given a very reasonable price. When we arrived, in the early afternoon, there was nobody else staying, and we were offered an upgrade to a grander room in the main château. There were panelled walls, painted with scenes from presumably some mythic adventure that involved ladies scantily clad in woodlands, and a balcony that looked out over a vast cedar tree.

We had an appointment with Monsieur Pibaleau in Azay-le-Rideau, about twenty minutes' drive away that day at five o'clock. But Broo, my wife, thought she had gone to heaven, and decided to take advantage of the heavenly surroundings to stay behind in the hotel, while I went off to taste with Monsieur Pibaleau. She said something about having to do some work.

There has been an upheaval chez Pibaleau, and he has decided to stop making still wine. He has rented his vineyards to a young man, who is apparently well connected in the Unites States. He was there at the vineyard when I arrived, bustling about being busy. Monsieur Pibaleau introduced us, and we went into bowels of the winery building to see what this new arrival was up to. He is fermenting his wine in large, egg-shaped earthenware vessels, experimenting with some oak, no oak, less oak, more oak ..... There were quite a lot of hosepipes lying about the place, and a rather wet floor. We tasted some of the wines, and they were very nice.

Then a tasting with what will be the last of Monsieur Pibaleau's wines. I will be shipping three of his wines: his Sauvignon, a red called "Le Revins-y", made from the grape variety Groslot, and his dry white Azay-le-Rideau.

On my return to the château, we sat in a vast, sumptuous sofa and drank champagne, before going to the dining-room for dinner, where the tablecloths and napkins were made of silk. Pure luxury. And with our dinner we drank a bottle of the château's own wine, a Bourgueil, which is vinified for them by a top local vigneron, Jacky Blot.

A lovely place. We recommend it.