The vineyards of Anjou in the Val Loire

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Archives Thru July 2001: Topics Archived Thru Dec 2000:The vineyards of Anjou in the Val Loire
By Don_walsh on Monday, December 25, 2000 - 03:44 pm: Edit

Again, I advance no claim on direct relationship, but I am moved to obtain some of those cuvees, so I can toast my distant cousins properly. These are the same Walshs de Serrant who organized and doubtless privately financed the Irish Regiment of the French Army and were deeply involved in the navy (they were ship-builders) and captained the ship that tried to smuggle Prince Charles Stuart (Bonnie Pricne Charlie) to England to overthrow George the Elector of Hanover, the German King George I of England...

By Petermarc on Monday, December 25, 2000 - 10:42 am: Edit

coulée de serrant...one of the greatest (and at the same time,least known)white wines in france (one of the first totally 'bio' wines)...nice neighborhood...

By Don_walsh on Sunday, December 24, 2000 - 07:59 pm: Edit

It would seem that warfare is not all that is in my blood.

"The Romans were already producing wine in Savennières.

The schistous coulées (little valleys) strewn with sun-warmed volcanic stones were covered with vines producing a famous wine. In the Middle Ages, monks took over, earning a substantial income in the wine trade.

The Château des Vaux takes its name from the seigneury du Vaults; old documents mention it as " including a dwelling-place, orchards, gardens and vineyards " in 1495.

Nearby, in the Château de Serrant, Louis the XIV tasted the drink that Louis XI had compared to a drop of gold ; he was enraptured and hastened to visit the vineyard, but his coach got stuck in the mud.

The seigneury du Vaults belonged to the Château de Serrant , property of the Walsh family, ship-owners who used the local wine (most of which they owned), on their ships as a measure to prevent scurvy. During the first part of the 17th century the seigneury was acquired by various prominent Angers families, civil servants or gentry (noblesse de robe), and eventually sold in 1756 with 17 quarters of vineyard to the canon Noël Martin.

At the beginning of the 19th century, it is likely that Napoleon's court also apppreciated the good wine of Savennières, thanks to the Walsh family and to their friend Empress Josephine :

" When Madame Josephine
is in a somewhat sad mood
she sips at a little glass--
it's her taste after all--
then, away goes the sorrow,
in its places comes joy
thanks to the jolly Anjou wine "

The Canon's heirs and their descendants, who were from very wealthy Angers families, initiated major alterations to the property's architecture and landscape. The Mayor of Savennières, François-Claude Fourmond-Desmazières (who is quoted in André Castelot's famous book Money and the Second Empire), considerably enlarged and redesigned the park in the English style, incorporating a former arm of the River Loire, and transformed the original house by adding wings and high-roofed pavilions.

His daughter, the Vicomtesse Walsh (whose husband was Napoleon III's chamberlain),was a cousin of the Château de Serrant's owners and continued the alterations but died without issue.

The Marquis de Las Cases, grandson of Napoleon I's chamberlain and his biographer, inherited the property, then transferred it to his eldest daughter Marque de Las Cases who married Bernard du Closel. Bernard du Closel was Mayor of Savennières from 1916 to 1956 and worked actively to obtain official recognition of the appellation Savennières, attained in 1952. Madame du Closel, childless, gave the Domaine to her niece Michèle Bazin de Jessey in 1961.

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