You know it’s been a great weekend when you arrive home late on Sunday night wearing your favorite scarf as a skirt….Ok that sounds more extreme then it actually was. But this weekend was a ton of fun.
I’ll be the first to admit I have long joined the ranks of the working who are so excited for lazy Friday nights. And this Friday night was no different. After a busy week of school, work and administrative adventures I was so happy to relax. I ordered a pizza and a salad, opened a bottle of good wine and watched the Sharks game from a few days prior. It was glorious. And more importantly it allowed me to rest up for an amazing weekend.
Saturday morning was a bit of a scramble as we spontaneously decided to head to Fronsac, one of the many Bordeaux wine appellations, for the portes ouvertes. Many of the small wineries in France are not open on weekends, nor do they provide in depth tours to the public. Except on specially designated weekends or portes ouvertes, which literally means open doors. On these days you can visit the wineries, have a tour and do a little tasting for free.
When we arrived in Fronsac, we started our day with a tasting hosted by L’Ecole du Vin Bordeaux, a school for everyone from amateurs to collectors that provides seminars, tastings and more. It was an interesting lecture in how to taste wine and what to expect from Fronsac wines, if a little fast and difficult to follow in French.
Then we headed up the road to visit our first winery. Only not so much. We ran into a little bit of … confusion. Following the signs for a vineyard property we ended up a lovely if rather isolated house sitting in the middle of the vineyards. Given the signage and the winery machinery sitting in front of the house our confusion was justified. Double so that as we pulled up a woman got out of her car and welcomed us. She let us into the house and promptly started talking about the amenities and offering us a tour. Apparently she thought we were the clients she was waiting for who were planning to rent the house for a week’s vacation. Ooops. As A and I stood downstairs and laughed hysterically the guys made their way upstairs and continued with the tour. Until the lovely lady tried to give them the key and they had to explain themselves. I don’t think she was particularly amused or even saw the humor in the situation.
Back into the car we went and then off to our first winery, Chateau Gaby. Here we finally had our first tour and tasting. They also had cool tables set up with activities to teach you about smell and taste. First you smelled different liquids to determine what they were – coffee, vanilla, etc. Then was a salty, sweet, bitter and sour liquid tasting. Then a flavored water tasting – ie cinnamon, vanilla, berry. Very cool and a fun exercise.
After a stop at Chateau Pey Labrie, we went to Chateau de la Dauphine. This amazing estate was once the home of the widowed Marie-Josepha of Saxony, the mother of Louis XVI. The estate was purchased and restored by its current owners in 200. (Click here to see pictures of all of Saturday’s adventures.) Their wine operations were distressingly impressive – everything was new, clean and perfect. The wine we had there was my favorite of the day and the estate was beautiful. I only wish I had a chance to tour the house.
I spent a lovely Saturday night with A in Bordeaux: dinner out and a party at a friend’s house. But Sunday was magic. It was my friend C’s birthday and with the lovely weather starting to fade we decided to spend the day at the beach at Arcachon. The Arcachon basin is the local bay and the city of Arcachon is on the peninsula at the entrance to the bay. And it’s known for its amazing oysters.
The day was amazing. There were some high clouds but the sun was out and the water was beautiful. The beach was almost deserted and we had a lot of space to ourselves. In addition, J’s family owns two homes in the area and we were able to enjoy the terrace overlooking the water. We even managed to triumph over the French culture and our hunt for oysters was successful. (I got to eat some lovely chorizo!) So we had a lovely apero with good food and good wine. (Click here to see the pictures from our day).
As for the reason I ended up wearing my scarf as a skirt – I listened to some bad advice from M and didn’t bring a swim suit. So I ended up wading in to the lovely warm water in my jeans. Next time I won’t listen to M and I will bring a suit. But I couldn’t bring myself to face an hour in the car in wet and sandy jeans – hence the scarf.
Now we just need to come up with a plan for the next weekend. I have no class between Sunday and Wednesday. Note I didn’t say Saturday. I start my wine and spirits tasting class. Woo.