Grand Voile is made by the talented vigneron Eric Laurent who is cellar master of the Cave de Saumur; famed for its catacombs deep underground in Saint Cyr. There are miles of caves in and around Saumur and along the cliffs on the river front you will see the facades of houses, carved out of the soft limestone, fronting underground dwellings, museums and workshops. The historic town of Saumur is part of the Loire Valley and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It lies between the Loire and Thouet rivers and the skyline is dominated by its huge medieval castle that towers over the town.
An ancient centre of Angevine viticulture, Saumur gained wealth and fame as the great trading place for Loire wines in times of old. Renowned for its sparkling wines (Champagne House Tattinger has a base here), Saumur also produces some fabulous still white wines. Originally from Burgundy, Eric found his calling in Saumur and specialises in producing white Saumur and red Saumur Champigny. ‘Grand Voile’ is named for the mainsails (great sails) of the ships that travel the river. Its superb quality is affirmed by Philippe Faure-Brac (World’s Best Sommelier 1992) who was inspired by Eric’s work.
Grand Voile is made from the Chenin Blanc grape. Chenin Blanc is related to Sauvignon Blanc (they are half siblings) and is thought to have originated in the Loire Valley in the 9th century. Chenin has a distinctly different flavour profile to Sauvignon Blanc. Having more acidity than Sauvignon, Chenin gives refreshing, zesty undertones to the wine and enhances its mouth watering characteristics. The Loire is famous for its Chenin Blanc and on this terroir – and in the right hands – this grape is capable of greatness.
Philippe Faure-Brac recommends that Grand Voile is served chilled (8-10 ° C) with grilled sole, monkfish curry, mussels, smoked haddock, pea soup, apple strudel, gingerbread or goats cheese. It is lovely with fish and we’d add that it also pairs very well with pork, chicken and turkey, salads, Asian cuisine – especially ‘sweet & sour’, pates and terrines . . . and lemon meringue pie!