We left Bristol on Tues arvo, as Nic managed to get off a bit early from work. At one point we were making great time.... Then there was a crash on the M25 and we sat there for 90 mins with the engine off! Ah the joys of travel in the UK. Still, we arrived in time for a curry with Mike and Catherine and our host, Nicko
Wed 7/3 to Reims
A day of frantic activity on both sides of the English Channel started early with Nic off to lecture to a group of orthodontists in the central London. Stuey too caught the train to town, to pick up a bass from Duncan Goode at English National Opera. We reconvened back at Purley then shot off to Folkestone to catch the 2.20 train thro the tunnel, which we just managed. Although we have been thro the tunnel a few times now, it never ceases to amaze how efficient it is, so much better the ferry options of yesteryear. Next was an awful 2.5 hr drive to Reims; it was very wet, with lots of standing water on the carriageway, so overtaking was a leap of faith. We got to Reims ok, checked in then hit the city for a meal at Brasserie Flo. Nic went for the mainstream steak frites option, Stuey opted for the Alsace sauerkraut and sausage supper! Yum.
Thurs 8/3 to Macon
We left Reims early, to embark on our 3.5 hr drive down to Macon. The weather had cleared, it was a beautiful bright sunny Spring day. We arrived for lunch and joined Bob, Liz, Hugh, Chris, Ian, Janet and Norman. Bob Reeves is our neighbour in Clifton – he has a share of Vergecosse vineyard and holiday accommodation in the village of Vergisson in the Macon region of Burgundy, http://www.vergecosse.com/
It is located in a magic spot nestled in the hills among the vines. The parcels of grapes are very small and are shared among owners – there is a very good reason for this as the region is knows for its micro-climates. Hail showers have been known to pass thro and devastate a small area, leaving the adjacent parcel untouched. Stuart was flogged by Hugh and Norman at dice, fortunately not for money or wine.
Next up was a wine tasting session at Domaine Saumaize-Michelin, http://www.domaine-saumaize-michelin.com/presentation.htm
Roger and Christine manage the property and vineyard – from accommodation bookings, to growing the vines and making the wine. We tried a dozen or so chardonnays, mostly Pouilly-Fuisse.
And the evening was rounded off with coq au vin cooked by Laurence, a Doctor who has given up medicine to cook. Am sure this was a wise choice as she was no doubt a superb quack, but her food is glorious. Yum once more.
Fri 9/3 Beaujolais
After a traditional French breakie of breads and croissants Bob took us on a stunning drive thro the local villages to Chirouble to try some Beaujolais reds. The Burgundy region is divided into 5 areas, spread out over 100s of kms – Chablis, Cote de Nuit, Cote de Beaune, Macon and Beaujolais. Bobs property is in Macon, very close to the border with Beaujolais. Reds in this region are based on the Gamay grape, as against Pinot Noir further north around Beaune. Gamy makes a rustic, gamey, earthy animal wine, quite different to anything else. In true French fashion, they flaut the rules in Beaujolais – vines are not trelliced, but left to stand alone. Our memory of Beaujolais had been jaundiced thanks to the Beaujolais Nouvelle craze in the 1980s, where lots of young, rough reds hit London around October, and everyone got very excited about it. Thankfully that trend has abated...except in Japan. Enough said. Bob’s secret Beaujolais cellar lead to our first purchase of the tour.
Next stop was lunch by the river Soane. We are sure that Bob knows everyone in these parts. Entree plus main plus wine for 13 euros – it was no wonder the place was full. And the customers who were “working” clearly were into the French tradition of a long lunch!! Then it was back to Verecosse to sleep off lunch, to go Rogers to buy lots of wine and test the Mazda’s suspension to the max, then off out to eat, of course. This time at a local restaurant in Vergisson. Yum, yum, yum.