Monday, August 5, 2013

Sunday 4 August 2013 Reims

Our three train travelers left Paullac on a train carrying some of the early risers (or never sleepers) from the festival. Connie was very worried by the crowd on the train but our intrepid travelers survived and we are now all on a train to Reims for champagne tomorrow. Actually I imagine we will not wait that long.

We didn't. Fifteen minutes after arriving at our hotel we headed for the main street, stopped at the first bar, and toasted Reims with one of its champagnes. Expensive, however. A bottle of the least expensive champagne was 54 Euros or about $75.

The restaurant where we had reservations was closed (for a holiday - we must have been the only booking) so we stopped at a brasserie. The pigeons had visited every chair so we moved on to another restaurant where they cleaned their chairs or had sent the pigeons off or both. The least expensive champagne on their list was 70 Euros ($95). We had a rosé from the Cotes de Provence and two bottles of a Lalande de Pomerol for just slightly more than the least expensive champagne. Even in the heart of Champagne country!

I am sorry to be so late in posting these messages. I have been busy! There is even more to tell about walls, scratches, shoe polish and mysteries. This has been a trip filled with adventures!

Pictures coming soon. I promise!

Saturday 3 August 2013 St. Estephe, Pauillac, St. Julien and Margaux

We had three appointments for Saturday. Most of the chateau in Bordeaux either restrict trade to members of the wine trade or open to the public Monday through Thursday, closing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Some also closed (I think) because of the Reggae Festival (a French version of Woodstock it seemed - thousands of party goers sleeping everywhere, in and out of tents and caravans) which just happened to be taking place Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights in Paulliac and St. Estephe.

Our day was an excellent one, however. Our first visit was to Lynch Bages in Pauillac where we tasted Lynch Bages, (white,red and second wine) and Ormes de Pez (same owner). If you are a wine lover you have been impressed. If not, Lunch Bages is one of the 71 vineyards classified in 1855 as being the best Bordeaux wines out of several thousand wineries in Bordeaux at that time. So now you are, hopefully impressed. Our second stop for a tour and tasting was Chateau Desmirail in Margaux, also among the favored few that were ranked in the 1855 classification. Desmirail has had a checkered history, coming out of a long oblivion between 1922 and 1981. We tasted their wine from Haut-Medoc (five meters away from their main growth),their rosé, and their flagship wine. All were excellent even though the tasting room is at the winery since the Chateau itself was old long ago to address money woes and the winery is a bit “shabby” shall we say.

Our final stop was at Gruaud-LaRose in St. Julian. A beautiful chateau that is only used for special events and tastings sits in the middle of a fantastic vineyard which emphasizes organic farming . Phenomes confuse the male butterflies and special plants keep the crickets at bay. There is even a sonic tower used to send high frequency soind waves to the clouds to brek up hail and slow down the rain. Whatever they are doing, they are doing it right. The wines we tasted (a 2008 of the second label and a 2007 Gruaud Larose were both wonderful). At 100 or more Euros ($ 135) per bottle the Gruaud-Larose should be wonderful!

We returned to Chateau Pomys for another wonderful dinner including a 2009 St. Estephe, a Cos Labory 2005, and another 2000 Pomys.

Friday 2 August 2013 St. Emilion to St. Estephe

The contest began to see who could pack the car with room enough for 6 after getting all the luggage in. Kim won the contest by suggesting a taxi for 3 to Libourne, a train to Bordeaux, and another taxi to St. Estephe. I drove the luggage, Connie and Cathy. We eft about 20 inutes before the taxi arrived and got to the Chateau Pomys about 20 minutes before the Mercedes bringing Jill, Kim and Arnold arrived. The staff of the hotel had already taken all of the luggage to the second floor (we would call it the 3rd floor in the United Staes but the ground floor in Europe is 0) where our rooms were located. Now this is living. A real Chateau with a fantastic lawn and garden and a view of the River Gironde from our rooms.

Lunch was accompanied by one or two bottles of Chateau Pomys Rosé 2012. (I forgot to count). After an interlude sitting in the garden all of us except Connie wwent to the Maison de Vin in St. Estephe. We loaded up on aprons, corkscrews, glasses, etc. Then we drove through the hallowed ground of St. Estephe including Chateau de Pez. Dinner was at our chateau and included another bottle of Pomys Rosé and 2 bottles of 2000 Chateau Pomys for our red wine. Wow! What a delightful wine. 2000 was a fantastic year in Bordeaux and we took advantage of it being on tge menu. Dinner was quite good and sleep was perfect.

Thursday 1 August 2013 St. Emilion

I got up early Thursday and caught a train to Bordeaux where I rented a car. It held 7 people (OK, we were 6) but then there was room for only 2 suitcases. I got back to St. Emilion about noon, grabbed a bite to eat at the bar across from our hotel. We then set out on a tour of St. Emilion, Pomerol, and surrounding villages. Since very few wineries are open, and fewer still have English speaking personnel, I had arranged tastings at the Vin de Maison in Montagne St. Emilion and at the joint tasting room in Pomerol. Both had been centers for tasting, but had stopped. The Pomerol tasting room was to again begin tastings the next Monday. The tasting room in Montagne St. Emilion had tastings only on Saturday in July and August. Go figure! We did pass the Eglise de Pomerol many times as well as several famous vineyards. Finally we found one small vineyard that was Ouvert. The elderly woman (well I think she was older than I) who owned the vineyard opened two nice bottles of her Pomerol. We ended up buying two bottles of her 2009. Delicious!

After returning to the hotel we took a tour of the underground church of St. Emilion. It was a fascinating tour.

A rest and we hit the two Pomerols. When both bottles had disappeared we went to Le Tertre and had an excellent meal. We made it up the 40 degree incline on large cobblestone “street”. Sleep was a welcome event.

Wednesday 31 July 2013 Chenonceau (the Chateau does not have the x at the end of its name as the town does).

After sleeping late we had a nice breakfast and headed for Chateau Chenonceau. The hour and a half tour was well done and the iPod and the pictures were very useful in understanding the history of the Chateau and its interesting inhabitants. After the tour of the Chateau we walked through the gardens of Diane de Potiere and Catherine d’Medici. The latter was the favorite mistress of Henry II who lived at Chenonceau until, after Henry’s untimely death in a jousting contest, she was forced by Catherine, Henry II’s wife, to leave Chenonceau and take up residence at Chateau C. Nice, good view high above the River Loire, but not Chenonceau!

We the had a fantastic lunch on the Orangerie porch in perfect weather!

We caught the train to St. Pierre des Corps (the TGV station for Tours) where we connected to the train to Libourne (10 minutes from St. Emilion). The train was filled with bicycles (I counted 11) which occupied all entries to the one car train.

After leaving the train Cathy rushed to get her purse/handbag from the train which she had forgotten in the rush to leave the train via the bicycles. The train pulled away from the station and Arnold remembered that he had left his camera and 3 lens on the train. After a great deal of back and forth the camera bag and its contents were located. Arnold went to the main Tours station and retrieved his camera bag and contents. He took a train to Libourne than the one we took.

Arriving in Libourne we found a list of 11 taxi drivers and their numbers but no taxis. After 11 unsuccessful calls we failed to reach anyone. Of course it was 8 pm when we arrived and I imagine all of the taxi owners were at dinner. We called the hotel in St. Emilion and they sent a taxi to fetch us. After 3 round trips (Arnold was the third arriving shortly after we had gotten to St. Emilion) we found a very nice restaurant and closed it down about 11:00. The hotel, Auberge de la Commanderie, had been “modernized” since we last visited it. The charming place had been redone with fake walls pained in hip-hop colors and designs. Clean but disconcerting to those of us who had enjoyed the charming historic building where we had stayed before.

Tuesday 30 July 2013 Chenonceaux

My backup travel plans were put into action. Kim arrived and at 2:04 we left for Tours and Chenonceaux We stayed at the Auberge du Bon Laboureur. The fantastic food cured our souls even though our bodies were 3/4 or more asleep.

Day 2 29 July 2013 New Orleans to Paris via Charlotte

Connie on the plane Picture Coming Soon

Monday did not go so well. Before we left the hotel in New Orleans (actually K), we got a call from US Airways advising that the plane from Charlotte (due to depart at 4:50) would be delayed until :00. No problem. That would have us arriving just before Arnold and Cathy. Jill Martin would have to wait about 45 minutes longer than expected to see someone on the trip, but that was no real concern. Six came. Seven came. 7:30 came and we boarded the plane. At 8:30 we left the gate, almost 4 hours late

Day 1 Sunday 28 July 2013 Daphne to New Orleans

After church we drove to New Orleans to spend the night. We stopped at the casinos. Once again, Connie was the winner. Well I was also a winner. I won $8.00. Connie won enough to pay for all of her train rides in France! We had a fantastic meal at Andrea’s in Metairie.