France boasts perhaps the best wine regions in the world. Certainly no educated wine connoisseur would dispute the importance of Bordeaux, Burgundy and the Champagne region to the global wine culture. Although there are equally fantastic wines produced in other countries (Italy, California, Australia), France is both the epicenter and the cultural touchstone of the wine industry.
But like those other storied locales, France's wine reputation is earned in more than just the well-known, well traveled areas.
The Loire Valley, a third of the way between Paris and the city of Bordeaux, is one such region.
Boasting world-class varietals such as Vouvray and Sancerre, Loire, which meanders along the western side of the country, paralleling the path of the Loire River, boasts more than 85 appellations and numerous quality producers.
Our visit included overnight accommodations in the beautiful little town of Chenonceaux, not too far from Vouvray's storied vineyards. The town is home to the famous and beautiful Chateau Chenonceau. Not to be outdone, the outskirts of Chenonceaux feature large, peaceful vineyards with more of an eye towards production than tourism.
And in one field, a cat watches a visitor during the early morning hours. (upper right)
Being a French cat, it says nothing and silently moves on when it decides the visitor is not very interesting.