On a recent road-trip through France, we passed through Chinon – a cute medieval town in the heart of the Loire Valley. Although the region is known mostly for its red wines, it also produces a handful of seriously special rosés. The vineyard that sits in the shadow of the imposing 15th century Château de Marçay is one such producer. We found ourselves there one weekend in July in what just so happened to be the perfect weather for a little rosé-sampling.
The castle itself is Disney-esque. Flanked by two circular towers, its perfectly-manicured grounds include stables, gardens, a big, blue swimming pool and, of course, the vineyards. The hotel itself is impressive and luxurious – the ground floor’s interior has been lovingly restored to its original glory, featuring stone floors, antique furniture, and fireplaces bigger than most Londoners’ bathrooms. The bedrooms are comfortable and well-equipped, if not a little outdated in their decor.
We worked up an appetite soaking up the sun by the pool before freshening up for dinner on the terrace. The atmosphere in the restaurant is lively but relaxed, led by the attentive waiters. Though perfectly trained in the art of silver service, they retain a warm and friendly manner, preventing the dining experience from feeling too formal.
The menus provided by the hotel don’t do the meal justice – at a first glance they seem expensive for what appears to be a basic three-course meal, but in the end our expectations were blown out of the water. Between each and every main dish comes a palate cleanser, each as delicious and carefully thought-out as the courses themselves. A mackerel tartare served with slices of citrus fruit was pure summer in a mouthful, while a perfectly cooked saddle of rabbit made for a rich and satisfying main course.
And, of course – the château’s own wine. They produce both red and rosé, but the latter seemed the most appealing given the summery evening. We opted for the Rosé de Marçay – a pétillant (that’s French for slightly sparkling, don’t ya know) wine, which was pale and very quaffable.
We lingered over cheese, dessert, and more wine, enjoying the views of the gardens and countryside beyond, before dragging ourselves upstairs to bed. Delightfully, we found that our bed had been turned down and a box of choccies left on the pillow. Is there anything more unnecessarily luxurious?
It seems ironic to criticise a medieval château for being old fashioned, but Château de Marçay would be utterly perfect if it weren’t for a couple of slightly antiquated details. Female guests are given menus with the prices removed, and the outdated decor in the rooms distracts slightly from the building’s period charm.
Regardless, we’ll be back for the food, the pool, and that delicious rosé.
We The Food Snobs x