Stars of the Loire

That Russian sommeliers are fond of drinking shouldn't be a shock, but I was still surprised to see them gustily swallowing wine at tastings at nine in the morning. This was in the Loire valley in July, when I accompanied a group of the aformentioned somms on a tour of the region, all of whom work for a luxury hotel chain in St Petersburg. Our objective was to visit some of the Loire's greatest names and taste only their best wines, preferably including several older vintages. Their commitment to this cause was matched only by their stamina, and I did...

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