Not one to brag… but this is not a stock image.
He grabs me a bottle. I pay. I happy.
A few moments ‘tres awkez’ (one day: pretty much fluent), but I got here. Currently sat, cross-legged, macbook on lap, watching the sun ebb beneath the canopy of Sauvingnon vines surrounding me. WSET Level 3 (until the exam comes back as fail anyway) and this is the first time I’ve actually seen a vine. I’ll remember this forever.
That main ‘tres awkez’ was when I got to the first toll on a busy Calais motorway and realised I’d never done this before. And that I’m in a right-hand drive car and don’t speak- let alone read – French. This dawns on me quickly: I need to get out of the car with a queue of Frenchmen behind, walk around the bonnet and spend far too long who-harring over what is effectively a very confusing, public car-park machine. I look like an English prick… with a big GB logo on my boot and a sun-burn. I eventually press the ‘helpez’ button. “Qui.” ‘Errr… qui… err… parlez vous Anglais.’ “A little.” ‘Errr…. Comment vous… how do I…’ “Press de blue button: you do not pay. You get de ticket… you pay at next toll”. He buzzes off. ‘Ah. Qui. Merci’. What a plonker, Rodney.
I navigate my way through the French A-roads and eventually, five hours later, the satnav edges me off. I need to pull over. There are so many bloody vineyards. I’m on a hill and see them spread in front of me forever and an end. It is stunning. I start up again, turn left, turn right, the road opening up in front of me as I in turn open the frottle: winding my way through French countryside dotted with the hamlets of picture perfect stone-walled vineyards. I’m in fucking heaven.
I arrive and am met by Marie – my host – who lives next door. She shows me around and remarks how I: “clearly only care about de view. Stunning. No?”. Err. Qui. Yes.
I ask her where to buy some of what came from those and she points at a white van, gestures, and says “behind. A gauche”. I walk up to a little lady in a garded. Very confused. Escusez-moi, sil vous plais. Je voudrais achete un botteille de le vin. She is more confused. Eventually she points behind me. I realise two things at this moment. A) I don’t know what gauche means (pretty fucking elementary) and two… I am stood at the entrance to “Domaine de Bel Air”. A man walks round the corner… guesses what I mean by my terrible linguistics and beckons me in. I am here. Stainless steel vats of pleasure. He grabs me a bottle. I pay. I happy.
And so as I sip upon the last of this, pretty brilliant, wine I’m in no doubt that is it “pretty brilliant” in no small part to my evening and my surroundings.
Now if you don’t mind… the suns gone down and the soil of this vineyards is pretty stoney. I’m off to bed. Off to my next adventure. Happy in the knowledge you can just walk into a domaine and, not your pigeon French but your enthusiasm, will suffice. You’ll end up with a cracking bottle and a better day.
Tours, Torraine tomorrow: with Chateaus aplenty en route.
Domaine de Bel Air: A Gauche, indeed!
The inner workings. Not sure I was supposed to be in there.
A tree. But a bloody nice one. On my first vineyard… well it’s not my vineyard… you get what I mean. One day. Probably not this exact one. Maybe one in Kent. Whatever.
I’ll have this here.
Spot the bottle. Back from whence it came.
Blogging cross-legged looking at this. Stoney soil. Great view.