26 September 2008

Fraudsters in France

Firstly, to explain the title of this post, Steve & I are feeling a little like fraudsters here in Burgundy when we have absolutely no knowledge of the local wines. Everyone we have met is Very Serious about le vin. We are, of course, interested in it but it's not the main purpose of our holiday, unlike many others. However, we have not been ostracised for this & when we explain that it's the scenery, the (kind of) flat terrain & the history that we have come to see, we are excused. Speaking of history, above is the town hall of a beautiful village called Mersault. This hall was a fortified castle during the 14th century. The church in the town square dates to the 12th century. The coloured tile roofs are very typical of this area & are very pretty.

Here is my trusty bike, with it's hideously hard seat, having a little rest against a wall bordering a vineyard. We have seen several of these little gateways which seem to indicate the name of the winery. This one was particularly pretty. It was blowing a gale yesterday & of course, we were riding headfirst into it. Unfortunately, it was also quite brisk. Is that a nice way to put it? We left Puligny Montrachet after another magnificent breakfast at La Chouette. That hotel has been a real standout in our holiday. It was fantastic. Unfortunately, one of the American guests slipped in the shower there & broke her wrist so was off to Beaune yesterday morning for surgery. She was freaking out, the poor lady, as it was her first day of holiday & her husband had booked a very expensive pinot tour that his wife insisted he continue to attend. What a bad time for them... It was a reminder to be Very Careful...
We also rode through Volnay and Pommard again today but enjoyed it much more this time as we had settled into the biking routine & were not so shellshocked. The history is so fascintating & as we ride through the little villages, we can see right into the sheds of the individual wine growers & see them working with the harvested grapes. Each of these little villages seems to have about 15 or 20 of these wine makers and you can go and taste the wine - you just need to knock on the door and ask. Just make sure you do it before 12 because at 12, the church bell rings to bring everyone to lunch and then everything shuts down. The villages are completely empty - not a soul about, not even an antisocial, aloof French dog, and nothing seems to crank up again until about 4 or 5pm, when people gather in the tabac or bar to drink kir or other aperitifs.
We rode back into Beaune yesterday & had a bit of a look about & then caught the train, with our bikes, to Nuits St George, which is very famous for it's red wines. We saw these in the 4cm thick wine menu at dinner last night for at least 65 euros a bottle... Oh dear, speaking of which, there was a bit of a cheese trolley last night too. Gulp :o(
There are so many people I know who would enjoy this wine experience and the cycling here so much & Steve and I can't believe how lucky we are to be here. I feel a bit sorry that I do not have more of an appreciation of the wine, but there is still so much else to enjoy.
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