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Loire Valley Wine Tasting at Chateau du Petit Thouars

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What Travel Belle could resist a tweeted invitation to one of the beautiful wineries in France from a Frenchman with good manners and a chateau to a Loire Valley wine tasting?

The bulbs that were blooming under the trees with the Chateau in the background reminded me of the poppy field in The Wizard of Oz

Today I’m in a waxing-about-Fall-and-France kind of mood, so I’m going to tell you about a favorite stop from my visit last September to the Loire Valley.

Recently I’m missing the rolling hills, goat cheese and my snazzy rental Fiat.  I’m missing the crisp and misty mornings.

I learned many things on that trip both big and small, including a thing or two about wine (Elizabeth will be so proud.) Today, I’m mostly missing the wine.

Do you ever do that? Get a little sentimental on the anniversaries of big trips?

So I was charmed on Twitter by Chateau du petit Thouars before I even left home.

In the days before my visit to the Loire Valley, Sébastien du Petit Thouars (@dupetitthouars)  noticed me tweeting about my plans. He responded by tweeting me an invitation to stop by Chateau du Petit Thouars, located between Chinon and Saumur in France’s Loire Valley for a wine tasting.

The drive up to Chateau du Petit Thouars is promising

Sébastian, or Séb, as I would know him in 140 characters or less Twitter-speak, even suggested a couple of inns where I might stay, and I ended up following his advice. After all, who would know better than the local mystery person with the vineyard and the Chateau about where to stay?

When I asked Sébastian the other day about the vineyard’s presence on social media he said, “I was skeptical at first about Twitter, but I quickly changed my mind when I saw how many interesting people were on there. We’ve had the chance to meet and welcome many visitors, both from the wine trade and vacationers on holiday. Many times it’s because of Twitter that people are able to find us.”

And it’s for all the above reasons that I ended visiting Chateau du Petit Thouars two days in a row exactly a year ago.


That morning before going to the Chateau, I had spent in Saumur perusing tourist office brochures a little too close to be considered time well spent. Given that it was towards the beginning of my trip, I was feeling slightly anxious about the rest of the day. The half-hour drive along the Loire River took care of any of that.

My drive ended up taking a lot more than a half an hour, but only because I chose it to be that way.

 I seized the moment to show my new friend, GPS Garmin, who was boss of me (Hint: It wasn’t her.)  I may have gotten lost a couple of times, but she always helped me find my way back to where I was supposed to be.

I took this picture of “ma voiture snazzy” and the chateau, sent it to my husband and said, “Look what I bought!”

When eventually I did arrive at the winery, I had a brief awkward moment when I wondered what I was doing there, and if maybe I should turn around and go somewhere and look at tourist brochures; but I easily found Gwendoline Pinard, the Chateau’s hostess behind a door clearly marked “office.”

Gwendoline also just happens to be the daughter of the winemaker, Michel Pinard and was incredibly knowledgeable and gracious. She showed me around the chateau a bit before giving me my much anticipate Loire Valley wine tasting. Her handsome rough and tumble puppy Forlán, named after Uruguayan football sensation, Diego Forlán, scampered along behind us.

Gwendoline and Forlán

The vines on the property’s 300 acres all produce Cabernet Franc, the typical variety of grape that is used for producing Loire Valley red wines. Cabernet Franc is lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Although most often used alone in producing Loire Valley region reds,  the Cabernet Franc is also renowned for being used in Bordeaux-style blends.

The vineyard has the distinction of being one of the “Caves Oenotouristiques de Loire,” (translation: “Loire Wine Tourism Cellars”) a recognition of certain standards and quality, given by the governing body of Loire Valley wines, InterLoire.

The tasting room

I particularly enjoyed the Reserve Rouge 2008. But the most surprising thing I discovered during this wine tasting was that I really like rosé; well, Chateau du Petit Thouars rosé, at least. My visit unleashed an untapped love that kept me trying many more varieties of Loire Valley rosés during the rest of my visit to the region.

The vineyard

Du Petit Thouars’ red wines are for sale on the premises for 5 – 6 euros a bottle, and a bottle of crémant (sparkling wine) costs 8 euros. These reasonably priced wines have won commendations at the 2011 and 2010  Decanter World Wine Awards, as well as at the 2010 and 2009 International Wine Challenge.

As you can well imagine the several bottles I bought the next day on my return visit to bring home, (even the bottle of Reserve Rouge 2008) are long gone. Sadly to this Travel Belle, Chateau du Petit Thouars’ wines aren’t widely available in the US.  However, they are available in the Colorado region in some restaurants, bars, and wine shops.

“We work with a great importer for that area: Tom Lane from Canon de Colorado. We’re also hoping to find new partners soon for import into other parts of the United States,” Sébastian said.

The grapes appeared to be bursting on the vines at Chateau du Petit Thouars and would be harvested a week or two later.

I know I’ll get back to Chateau du Petit Thouars someday. In the meantime, maybe Colorado?

For more information be sure to visit the Chateau du Petit Thouars website.

So now we really want to know: Do you ever do that? Get sentimental about the anniversary of a really great trip? Where was it to?

Or have you ever been to a Loire Valley wine tasting?

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About the author

Margo Millure lives in Richmond, Virginia. She is a portrait photographer, writer and founder of Travel Belles. Learn more about her at

11 thoughts on “Loire Valley Wine Tasting at Chateau du Petit Thouars”

  1. I have this all the time… I love to think back to the time I lived in Australia, the trips there were all amazing. I always get sentimental thinking about that and its always a good feeling when I go back to visit!

  2. That sounds magnificent, Margo. I always think back on great trips I’ve had around their anniversaries — sometimes I even look at the pictures to remind myself of all the fun times I had!

    The Loire is an amazing place with a bunch of different grape types — Melon de Bourgogne in Muscadet near the coast (great with seafood), Chenin Blanc further inland (especially in Vouvray and can be sweet, sparkling or dry), Cabernet Franc in Anjou/Saumur (a great light to medium bodied red) and Sauvignon Blanc in Sancerre/Pouilly Fumé (tastes like minerals, acid, and sometimes gunflint!).

    It sounds like you had an amazing time visiting and really getting to know the reds of the region. The Loire is excellent for the armchair traveler too — I’d encourage those of us who can’t swing a trip there to go to the wine store and pick up some Sancerre and chevre. Enjoy the awesome pairing in the cool fall weather and you’ll be transported to somewhere else — the pairing is THAT otherworldly!!!

    I hope to make it to Chateau du Petit Thouars someday soon!


  3. Dear Margo,
    Many thanks for your kind article — it was our pleasure to have you at the vineyard!
    This is the web address for our English blog as well: — your readers can follow along on there if they like as well.
    We hope they’ll all have a chance to come to the Loire soon — it’s a great place for holidays and we’re happy to share in their Loire Valley experience with our wines!!
    Thanks again,
    Sébastien du Petit Thouars

    Château du Petit Thouars (10 minutes from Chinon)
    37500 Saint-Germain-sur-Vienne,

  4. I’m always amazed at how different wine regions can look around the world! I remember last year how I didn’t want to go to Stellenbosch when I was in South Africa because I lived just an hour from Napa/Sonoma, then I wound up driving up there anyway to pick up my drunk sister and the whole region was absolutely stunning! Lesson learned.

  5. Those one-year annviersaries always get ya!! Fortunately, I had mine at the same time I was returning from another big trip, so next year will be doubly hard — anniversary from long-term travel and an anniversary from spending time with elephants. Yeesh. This story is really lovely!! 🙂

  6. Gorgeous photos, and I want to give that cute puppy a squeeze!!! Paris is the only place I’ve been to so far in France, so I’m dying to go to the Loire Valley. I’ve heard great things, so I am happy to hear that you also had an amazing time!

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