“I believe that great happiness awaits those men who are born where good wines are to be found” – Leonardo da Vinci.
Well you can’t disagree with him I think, especially in France. Leonardo lived out his last years in the Loire Valley at Amboise. There at the invitation of Francis I, King of France, he resided at the 15th century Chateau du Close Lucé. It’s an area that’s surrounded by vineyards where the grapes make red, white, rosé and the famous cremant (sparkling) wines of the Loire.
Take a visit to this pretty little chateau and if you’re a wine fan, you’ll find there’s a chance for a most extraordinary and unforgettable wine tasting in the Loire Valley.
Wine tasting in the Loire Valley
Chenin Blanc is the “royal grape” says the wine expert in Leonardo’s Caves. And yes, this is the very passage that linked the Chateau du Close Lucé where Leonardo da Vinci lived with the Chateau d’Amboise where King Francis I lived. It’s a strange feeling to know that one of the greatest artists and thinkers of all time used to scurry along here, holding a candle to light the way to his secret meetings with his royal patron who also used this underground walkway to go to see the man he called “my father”.
You descend via one of the exhibition rooms in the chateau, a cardboard cutout of the great man points the way.
With candles lighting the cave I sipped the wine almost in reverence at the thought of where I was, though not as much as our wine guru who tells us his thinks of “wine as people”. The pensioners he says, go back to 1874 – he doesn’t offer us a glass. “This is a young adult” he advises pouring a glass of ebullient red from a local vineyard. “This is a baby” he says of a fresh, fruity white. Monsieur le wine expert speaks excellent English, has a great sense of humour and the most delicious wines.
If you want a sip of some of the finest wines the region has to offer in a truly spectacular setting then book in advance to avoid disappointment.
It is without a doubt an incredible way to connect with the past, to stand in the footsteps of the great King and the great artist, and a quite unique wine tasting.
Book at: www.caves-duhard.fr/en
More on the Chateau du Clos Lucé
How to get to Chateau du Clos Lucé
The train from Paris to Amboise takes from 1hour 15 minutes (average journey time is 1 hour 52 minutes). There is a year-round bus service from the station to the town centre. Details for trains: UKVoyages-SNCF
The Chateau du Clos Lucé is open year-round (except 25 December and 1 January). See the website for details: www.vinci-closluce.com;