We were late risers today, even by French standards (11:15). I suppose if we weren’t on vacation would actually care. It did cut into prime drinking hours at the wineries, so I will have to set an alarm for tomorrow.
Today’s excursion was into the Medoc region of Bordeaux. Specifically we went up into Pauillac to see Chateau Mouton Rothschild, one of the top wineries in the world. We were also hoping for our first day of good weather, since we have been battling rainstorms for pretty much our whole trip.
The rain was chaining from perfectly clear to massive cloudburst in about ten seconds, lasting for 5 minutes or so. Then it would change back. We ducked into a restaurant with a covered outdoor porch, which gave us prime viewing for the tourists and locals who got utterly drenched when the makeshift awnings decided to dump their accumulated water onto their table. This, of course shifted the weight balance on the awning, and the opposite side, which was also full of water then became the heavy, and poured onto the opposite table. After that, it just see-sawed back and forth, and the folks at the table just opened their umbrellas to save their wine and steamed mussels.
We finally managed to get out of there and catch a tour at Mouton, (sadly, no tastings were available). This is a truly impressive winery. The cellar holds bottles from every winery in the region, dating back years, and they have a cellar with their own bottles that goes back to nearly the beginning of the winery., This cellar was hidden behind a false wall during the war so the Germans wouldn’t find it. Good thinking there. You really have to appreciate a place that basically invented estate bottling, and managed the only change to the 1855 classification. Someone got a serious reach-around on that one.
We proceeded back down the slow road along the wine route, and stopped in several open wineries, We ran into a Dutch couple who introduced us to one winery (Chateau Gaudin) that is apparently one of the few family owned wineries in Pauillac that is not in any of the books. We met the daughter of the winemaker, and after some stunted conversation in broken French, she gave us some really nice samples. We ended up grabbing a bottle and some little airplane bottle sizes, since they seemed cute.
Continuing down the road we found another open winery guarded by an extremely small yet confident, fluffy white dog. This was Chateau Fonbadet, and we met the winemaker here, who was a young woman. She informed us (after a couple of healty pours)that she was part of a small group of women winemakers Les Alienor du vin de Bordeaux (www.bordeaux-lesalienor.fr). And she encouraged us to visit some of those other wineries as well. If they give the same size pour, then we should have no trouble following that advice. The dog seemed to agree.
We grabbed some food the the local Archan store, which is a combination of pretty much every store in the US, so one end has a massive grocery and liquor store, and on the other end, you can find Motorscooters next to the bras and panties. (Really, I’m just looking at the scooters). We headed back and had this and some wine in the room at the hotel before exploring and finding a TomTom convention (the GPS folks) on the first floor. They were falling down drunk, but since I couldn’t steal any booze from them, and the display units were all in French, there was no use staying to pilfer anything (First rule: never steal what you don’t need).
Hopefully we will get up early enough tomorrow to get some more day in. I think St. Emillion will be our target again.