Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Friday, 3 October 2008

Ami Chenin and Le Pot de Lapin

(2 October 2008)

Ami Chenin, Saumur (photo: CRM)

We stayed at Ami Chenin, a stunningly good chambres d’hôtes, run by France and Xavier Amat. They have three rooms available in an amazing semi-troglodyte house in the Rue de Beaulieu, perched above the main road from Chinon to Saumur, about 3.5 kilometres from the centre of Saumur. We chose 'L’Aunis', which cost us €75 for two – brilliant value! For this we had a large bedroom with a great view over the Loire (leaving aside all the telephone and electricity cables), a separate bathroom with shower, a little anteroom plus use of the beautiful gallery. Breakfast was a treat with three different types of baguette, homemade jams, cake and yogurt.

Xavier taking a delivery of wine from Chinon (photo: CRM)

Xavier used to run a restaurant – a bar-à-vins in Paris – before deciding about four years ago that it was time to have a more relaxed life away from the capital. In addition to their chambres d’hôtes. France and Xavier, who are passionate about wine, have two hectares of Cabernet Franc and 36 ares of Chenin Blanc. Xavier is starting to pick some of the Chenin on Saturday for their méthode ancestrale petillante. For the still red and white wines he is waiting for the grapes to ripen further and for the acidity levels to drop.

That evening we ate at the excellent Le Pot de Lapin run by Olivier Thibault. This wonderfully relaxed place opened in autumn 2007. Olivier sold his previous restaurant, L'Escargot in Saumur’s main street, because he wanted to open something less traditional and more modern in style where you can either have a glass of wine, some tapas or a meal. There is a very good wine list, especially of Saumur and Saumur-Champigny and very reasonably priced. The Champignys are listed by commune. You’ll also find a good dozen wines by the glass. The food is uncomplicated using very good ingredients and very well prepared. The menu changes frequently, while keeping some signature dishes like the deliciously creamy oeufs en cocotte. Le Pot de Lapin has rapidly become very popular with the local vignerons. Highly recommended but make sure you book as it is very small and is already justifiably popular.

We had the salade gourmande with foie gras and écrevisses and oeufs en cocotte followed by a ballotin of chicken and a tender entrecôte. As we were staying at Ami Chenin we felt we ought to try their rich, slightly honeyed 2005 Ami Chenin Saumur Blanc with a touch of minerality in the finish. Quite expensive at €38 but good to try, especially as the production is tiny and the Amats don’t have any left. We followed this with 1999 Le Clos Moleton Domaine Saint-Just from Yves Lambert. A Loire Châteauneuf-du-Pape – turning bricky with rich curranty, raisiny fruit, this probably needs to be drunk fairly soon. The label says 13% alc but it seems higher than that. Olivier kindly pulled out the 2006 Clos Moleton for us to try – obviously fresher and can be drunk now but will improve with another year or two in bottle.

Ami Chenin, 37 rue de Beaulieu, 49400 Saumur
Tel: 02 41 38 13 17, mobile: 06 68 05 57 98


Le Pot de Lapin, Les Ardilliers, 35-37 Rue Rabelais, 49400 Saumur
Tel: 02 41 67 12 86

The restaurant is closed on Sundays and Mondays


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