We'd been informed esteemed Loire vignerons Catherine & Pierre Breton were hosting a nice civilized sit-down dinner kind of thing. We never have the right information.
In retrospect, one clue might have been the lack of a specified time on the email invitation Catherine Breton had sent to my friend J. "Between eight or nine, that's what it always means," was J's sage explanation, after his wife C and I had voiced some concern. In the end we arrived at the Café de la Promenade in Bourgeuil about 9pm, after spending a crucial hour vegging out at the little chambre d'hôte we'd booked across the river in La Touche.* We were famished. We had Romain Guiberteau's kindly-donated magnums tucked under our arms. We strode in, encountered the beginnings of a serious bacchanalia, and then deposited said killer mags behind the thronged bar with the owner, or husband of the owner, or DJ (probably all three). Ah well, we thought. It's not really that kind of party anyway...
Actually we did wind up tasting the mag of 2006 Saumur Blanc "Brézé," when Pierre Breton appeared behind the bar. (Later he would appear on the bar.) J later remembered it being one of the best whites we tasted all weekend. I was surprised J remembered anything from that night. I could make something up right now, but what's the use. I have a hazy impression of goodness from this wine, and that is all.
Shortly after arrival we were joined by my OTHER friend J, and his friends from the wine scene in New York, several of whom it turns out I knew already, or had some funny connection with. Zev Rovine of Zev Rovine Selections and I grew up in the same tiny town in Pennsylvania. Justin Chearno of the rocking great Williamsburg wine shop Uva - I tried to sell him some cult Vermentini once, a few years back.
"WHY DIDN'T YOU BUY MY CULT VERMENTINI?" I shouted, over the shatteringly loud early 90's euro pop hits the owner or husband of the owner was spinning.
I didn't shout that, actually. Instead Justin and I talked about his excellent side career as a (presumably better) DJ, and how the following Wednesday he was slated to play Le Baron, the famed, fairly tacky club in the 8ème. I would usually rather be violated by bears than go there. He had a good sense of humor about it, though.
From there the evening descended into pleasant anarchy. Imagine a concert after-party at a farmhouse rebuilt as a pizza place with all the 10-30€ wine bottles from your favorite natural caviste in Paris being passed around each table by their winemakers, who are all soused. Hervé Villemade, Georges Descombes, Elisabetta Foradori, Jean Foillard, the Bretons, and so on. All in all, a positively wonderful party.
We drank until the wine ran out, causing a momentarily lull while winemakers ran out to their cars to fetch more wine. As we still had two straight days of serious drinking ahead of us, it seemed a good time to head back to La Touche.**
* I could have sworn this was also the name of an early house or disco group. Probably no connection.
** When J referred to La Touche he made an exaggerated stabby finger-pointing motion in the air, as though he were in an elevator that was not responding to commands. Cracked me up.
Café de la Promenade
1 avenue du général De Gaulle
Tel.: 02 47 95 10 87