The annual Salon des Vins de Loire takes place at the end of January takes place in the unprepossessing but functional Parc des Expositions in Angers and is always an informative affair. While a mid-winter gathering is convenient for winemakers, it can make for a chilly and challenging tasting programme for visitors. This kind of event, although not in the most romantic of settings, provides a useful opportunity to catch up with a host of suppliers under one roof, taste a hundred or so wines per day and get a good insight into recent vintages.

Monday morning found our vigneron friends in upbeat mood, delighted to be showing terrific back to back vintages. Hot on the heels of the universally acclaimed 2009, the 2010 wines appear to be as good, if not better. Rich whites and full-bodied, fruity reds were the order of the day. We left the Fair enthused with the high quality and broad range of wines on show, confident that forthcoming releases will be well received back in Blighty. From the nervy, young Sauvignons of the Central Vineyards to the steely Chenins of Anjou, via the supple Cabernet Francs of Touraine, these were crowd-pleasing wines of charm and accessibility that offer great value for money.

After a long day’s tasting, tonight we look forward to rilletes, os à moelle and other delicacies of Saumur with our old friends Fred & Laurence of Domaine Filliatreau before heading south, where we hope the daytime temperature will rise above zero!