Maison J.B. Clair

Several winemakers are active along La Loire’s valley. One of them is Maison J.B. Clair at Renaison, some 15 kilometers (almost 10 miles) from where we live during the winter. See their website: This picture shows what the winemaker’s place looks like during the summer, when the grapes are still maturing. It looks absolutely idyllic.

Here’s the same spot, this time on Saturday the 13th of December 2014 when we arrived because of what is announced on this page of their website: The entrance of Maison J.B. Clair is on the right hand side, where a man is visible.

It was pretty crowded inside, not in the least because quite a number of fellow boat-owners from our port where present. And why not, when it’s free tasting and a ‘rustic’ buffet, combined with music.

One of the caves, likely to be the expedition-space, was turned into the concert hall for the day. The audience is listening fully concentrated.

‘Les Grissonants’ (‘The greying’) as seen by the audience.

Les Grissonants

Of course we are not denying our readers almost a minute of the sound of Les Grissonants.

A guided tour of Maison J.B. Clair’s subterranean vaults was offered to the interested ones. It looks a lot like the way the Champagne-wines are stored in their vaults – see Maison J.B. Clair owns/exploits 3 hectares (about 7,5 acres) for creating its wine.

This picture (excuses for the poor quality, it was dark and we had only our phone) shows (a part of) the 2011-wine, 3088 bottles to be precise. As you can see, the wine is put together by using 54% chardonnay grapes and 46% pinot noir grapes. Sounds familiar, when thinking of Champagne-making.

The skillful piled up bottles are separated only by narrow slats. It’s amazing that the ‘end-bottle’ is prevented from giving way by a mere bottle cap, as this picture shows. Our guide, being Monsieur Guido d’Antonio himself, took a bottle from the top of a pile to give us some explication. We’d never dare to do that!

Nowadays more or less sophisticated little machines execute all jobs, eventually leading to the end-product. Some of the machines are visible here…

…and here’s one of the end-products, being a bottle of Maison J.B. Clair’s ‘vins effervescents’ (sparkling wines). For well-known reasons it cannot be called Champagne but we promise you it’s evenly good. Taste it if there’s ever a chance. Cheers!