I’ve been all over the world on this Planet Wine series, but sometimes you just have to come back to the basics, which is why I’m taking you back to France. This lovely countryside estate is Château de Goulaine, near Nantes, in the Loire Valley. This is one of the most historic properties in all of France and may well be the oldest continuously-operating winery in Europe. It’s certainly one of the oldest businesses in Europe. No one’s quite sure when Château de Goulaine opened or when the first gulp of estate wine was swallowed here, but by most accounts it appears to have been about the year 1000. That’s a long time to be bottling wine.
Château de Goulaine is more than just a winery, though. Its historic castle was rebuilt in the 12th century and again in the 16th, which is when most of what you see today was constructed. The Goulaine family is prominent in French history in the Middle Ages, with a Goulaine having served in the Crusades and others in the Wars of Religion following the Catholic-Protestant split in the Reformation. During all that time the vines here were producing wines the equal of any others in the fertile Loire Valley. Today the castle is a museum, housing numerous works of art.
Château de Goulaine produces old style French wines which may not be well known among Americans. I believe I have had a Vouvray, though not from Château de Goulaine; I have not, however, had a Sancerre to my knowledge. The ones from Château de Goulaine are obviously pretty exclusive wines. It’s been 15 years since I’ve been to France, but should I return this one is definitely worth a visit.