I have been traveling to the Loire wine fair in Angers since 2000.I had pretty much dismissed the food scene as sad. Most of the restos were stacked with commercial bottles. One could go hungry and thirsty. In the past year, salvation has reached the city limits. Amongst the exciting new comers is chef Remi Fournie. Remi migrated from Paul Bocuse's kitchen to open up a teensie resto, Chez Remi, on Boulevard Foch. But his gem of a wine bar in the twists and turns of the city that is the must do. Le Cercle Rouge, on the Saturday night before the big tasting (and every night until the end of the wine fair was over) was packed with wine luminaries many of whom were in my book such as Theirry Puzelat and Jean Pierre Robinot--the winemaker who tortured the Skinny Food Writer on the dance floor. 2.7 euros for a glass of wine? (Lemasson Poivre et Sel, no less?) Without anything in there but grapes? How retro! Good, solid, snacky food and a boisterous, we're having a party atmosphere where I could lose myself in talk and wine and shmooze and laugh and bat my eyelashes and not have to remember the "crisis' back in the United States? This was a no brainer. Chez Remi 7 bis Bd Foch 02 41 24 95 44 Le Cercle Rouge 4 Rue Clos Deux Haies 02 41 87 49 66 All around was evidence of a design comeback; dramatic plastic eyeglass frames in all colors--very 1980 German chic--more stunning was the return of Male Facial Hair. All around were the Jo Landron style mustache, but also interesting configurations on the skinny side burn. The next morning, while tasting at the Josmeyer table, an Alsatian winemaker (YES!!! Dragon and the Hengst) I snapped an example. I did taste old favorites and for those wondering, Domaines like Clos Roche Blanche worked gorgeously in the difficult year of 2008. And the 2007 Cot, a new vintage of one of my all-time favorite wines, is solid, and full of its violetty character. Who is the hottest vigneron in the room? In this case, the focus was on Xavier Caillard from Saumur. They were stacked up at his booth as if he was selling lemonade on a scorcher. No lemonade here, but instead his wild petnat (petillant naturel), and late released chenin, like the 2002 which had six years of elevage and one year in the bottle The 2001 red was a thrilling blend of gamay and cabernet franc was elegant and at the end of hte day when I wrote my note, I scribbled, "pretty fucking cool. What makes a wine exciting? The wine goes forward, grabbing life and filling in its blanks with the person who created it." The whites for me were less grabbing, as I felt the lees stirring, which gives wine this toasty, full bodied quality that just seems wrong for chenin. But putting my prejudice aside, they were excellent and even better, interesting. Hats off to a any maniac who lets their wines age for so long. Very few have such nerve or patience. The other find of the day was Domaine Pero Longo from Corsica. Like plenty of people I am not immune to judging a bottle by its label and almost passed them by because the ticket was so cheesy Never the less, in my book's margin i wrote YES! Vermentino with nice edge of rock. Rose had layers of bitter orange. The Equilibre, big yum, is a blending of the three grapes, Nielluccio, Sciarcarello and Grenache, all in vat. Exciting shell-quality. The Le Lion de Roccapina, is I believe, all Nielluccio, and is barrel aged. Great concentration here, with fruit foating on the top of the wine, like a crust on snow. And finally, at the end of the day, when I couldn't taste anymore and should have gone over to Jo's table for a muscadet, I needed to taste Domaine Monier in St.Joseph. He was showing the 2007. A thorougbred race horse who had just been groomed. Standing, it's haunches flexing, his eyes staring out soulfully.