At first glance, La Cave Insolite seems just another of the quiet, slightly drab storefronts that face the river on the Quai Albert Baillet in Montlouis-sur-Loire. The cavistes at this unassuming shop, though, just happen to be Francois and Manuela Chidaine. When Francois and his cousin, Nicolas Martin, suggested that our group stop at the shop en route from Chidaine’s winery in Montlouis to the Clos Baudoin in Vouvray (back in February 2004), we could hardly refuse. Once inside, as Manuela poured us a glass of the Chidaine’s 2001 Montlouis Brut Non-Dosé, my first thought was, “This is my kind of wine store.” It wasn’t just the bubbly, which was lean, bone dry, loaded with delicate fruit and floral aromas, and perfectly palate cleansing. It was also the selection, the feel of the shop and its overall presentation.
La Cave Insolite offers a small, focused array of wines, all from the Loire Valley and all carefully selected and sincerely backed by the Chidaine family. In addition to wines from recognized stars like Didier Dagueneau, quietly established estates such as Clos Roche Blanche, and up-and-comers such as the young Vincent Ricard, the shop features the Normandy Cidres and Calvados of Eric Bordelet (an exception to the all-Loire rule). Add on a variety of locally produced pâtés and rillettes, a small section of stemware and accessories, and the expert advice of the family staff and you have a shop which could be easily absorbed in one visit yet would be rewarding as a regular destination. Much to my chagrin, La Cave Insolite is about 3,650 miles too far from home to be included among my regular wine shopping destinations. If you’re planning a trip through the Touraine though, it’s more than worth the detour into the sleepy hamlet of Montlouis.
La Cave Insolite
30 quai Albert Baillet
Tél: 02 47 45 19 14
All images courtesy of www.cave-insolite-chidaine.com