First of all, wow. Y'all have once again amazed me. The number of people who have emailed me saying my previous post made them cry...it was a bit staggering. Now, granted, one of those people was my mother and one was B's mother, so they don't really count. You should have seen them crying last April 26th. But the goal of a writer is to evoke emotion in your readers, and while I do apologize for making you all cry, it's a high compliment to me that I did so. Make sense?
But there was no crying for us this weekend. This weekend was all about celebrating and wine and our first road trip since we moved to France. We had hoped to go somewhere a bit further afield (Italy, Germany, Belgium) for such a special occasion, but we just couldn't make it work with B's work schedule. Besides, who's complaining about going to wine country? Not this girl.
We took the TGV train down on Friday after B got off work. We were supposed to arrive in Bordeaux about 9:30 and meet our Airbnb host, Jean Claude, at 10:00, but our train was running about 15 minutes late. Then, the lovely but often malfunctioning Google Maps said our apartment was less than a mile from the train station. Google Maps lied. It was nearly a 45-minute walk. Bordeaux is much bigger with France. To give you an idea, Tours' U.S. sister cities are Springfield, MO, and Minneapolis, MN. Bordeaux's is Los Angeles.
We didn't wind up meeting with Jean Claude until 10:30. He was extremely gracious and didn't mind at all, and our pad in Bordeaux? SO cute. This was the first time we'd used Airbnb, and we were crazily, pleasantly surprised. The apartment was small and cozy, but it was exactly what we needed since we weren't there very much. Jean Claude had stocked it with a bottle each of red and white wine, two big bottles of water, milk, yogurt, fruit, coffee and tea. And since we'd mentioned in our "offer letter" to him that we were coming to Bordeaux to celebrate our first anniversary, he also left us a gift: a Christmas ornament of gold grapes. I thought that was such a sweet touch. If you ever find yourself in Bordeaux, definitely check out this place. And check out Airbnb in general. I'm kind of obsessed now.
After settling in, having fast-food "tacos" for dinner (which consisted of meat, sauce, cheese and French fries wrapped in a tortilla - unlike any taco I've ever had in my life) and a celebratory beer at a joint that offered free Wi-Fi, we went to bed early to get a good night's sleep before our 8:30 a.m. wine tour.
We met our group, which included another American couple from Napa Valley and three Germany women, by the tourism office. This was our view while we waited:
It was a bit rainy, but that didn't slow us down. We piled in a van, and our guide, Brise (we think that's what his name was) drove us to the town (technically, the commune) of St. Emilion. It's one of the major wine-producing regions of Bordeaux, and it typically produces Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. It's the pink region on our map below:
The town itself is an adorable, hilly little village with red-roofed houses and cobblestones galore. Brise took us through the church, the cloisters, and a beautiful lookout over the town and the surrounding countryside, which was filled with vineyards. The view was stunning - it reminded me for the world of being in the little hilltop towns in Tuscany. Here are a few pictures of St. Emilion.
We then walked down through the curvy streets of the town on the way to a wine shop for our first tasting. We passed several gems along the way:
We finally arrived at our first wine tasting, at Le Cellier de St. Emilion. Bruno, who was in charge of our tasting, was freakishly knowledgeable about wine. He explained about the different grapes and soils around the area, how the wine was made, and the differences in the various years.
He was also very funny. He explained to us that the three components of a wine are its "history, taste, and poetry - but if you're from Australia or Texas, you call that last one bullshit. The rest of the world calls it poetry."
The gallery below has pictures of the labels of each wine we tried. We bought two bottles of the one on the top left, the Chateau Martet (partially because it was the only one we could afford!). You'll notice that three of the wines are from the same chateau (wine estate, not castle) but in different years. The 2005 was our favorite, followed by the 2001, and then the 2010.
*Please excuse the fact that they're all sideways. I don't know why they're like that, and I can't figure out how to change it.
I wish I could remember everything we were told - maybe I should start bringing a tape recorder to these things. Regardless, we really enjoyed the tasting and learning all about St. Emilion wines - and they're delicious! Below are some pics of our first stop...
After we left the wine tasting, we...
...stay tuned for Bordeaux, Part Deux!
E & B