|The road to Bordeaux
||[Sep. 19th, 2015|09:17 pm]
I would have been happy to linger longer in the Marais Poitevin: we were very comfortable at the Hotel du Marais, and enjoyed an after breakfast stroll through Coulon and along the river Sèvre. But we had made other plans, so we set off, at first following the river, which allowed us this glimpse of everyday life and appliance removal in la Venise verte:
then onto the more major roads. Fans of French roundabouts will be pleased to hear that someone in the department of Charente Maritime has been commissioning sculptures depicting relevant things on a very large scale: a set of beach umbrellas, deckchairs and a beachball for a seaside (Gironde estuary, in fact, but let's not be picky) location, and three giant pinecones in the woods backing the beach; a pair of giant hands opening an oyster in the fenlands where ostreiculture is practised, and my favourite, a giant hand holding a quill pen. I think it was near the town of Surgères, but if Surgères produced any writer famous enough to justify this tribute, Wikipedia doesn't know about it.
We stopped for lunch at Talmont, a walled town founded by Edward I on a promontory in the estuary. durham_rambler and I first visited there long ago (though we disagree about how long) when it was just beginning to emerge from dereliction and decay. Now it is a pretty tourist resort, full of restaurants,and shops offering artisan soaps, shell jewellery and hand-made pottery. It's still full of charm, though, and reminded me of the nearby Ile de Ré:
We have a client whose website we have managed since 2008 without ever meeting, who has recently moved to this region,so that was our next stop: a lovely drive through gentle vine-covered hills to the back of beyond, and afternoon tea in the garden under the olive tree. Next stop, the Domaine des Graves d'Ardonneau, as recommended by Helen Savage, because now we are in the Bordelaise and must be serious about wine. Mentioning Helen's name saw us ushered upstairs to taste two white wines (with and without oak; unsurprisingly, we both preferred it without) and three reds. We had arrived towards the end of the day, and the lady who served us had family visiting, but when she started opening the more expensive reds, she called them to join us: "Come upstairs, have a glass of the Grand Vin!" They obeyed, though the men declined to drink red wine as an aperitif and insisted on returning to the white. Conversation became general, but we tried to focus on the wine: we had already tasted a bottle of the Cuvée Tradition which Helen had given us (and that's what we bought a case of, to take home); the Grand Vin was aged in new oak, and had a lovely edge and complexity; the Cuvée Prestige was in theory between the two, but I thought too assertively oaked.
Nothing for it but to trust our satnav to bring us through the complexities of Bordeaux to our hotel, which she did with only a few tantrums on either side. durham_rambler has fallen asleep over his book, and karinmollberg will be calling for us first thing in the morning: time for bed.