Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Lyon and a Beaujolais Wine Tour

Sadly, I had issues with downloading my pictures again and so the Lyon blog will be short and without pictures from my camera. Once I can get the photos off of the SD card I will supplement this blog with some photos. I have determined that I need to use SD cards with a smaller capacity since I have problems downloading when the larger cards fill up. I am using an 8 GIG card now with the 32 and 16 GIG cards stowed safely away - I hope to have no more problems.

I had left the two days following Paris open with the thought that I would take a train to Beaune or maybe Dijon. In the end I decided to go to Lyon, as it would reduce the travel time to Chamonix and eliminate one change of trains on that day. I am glad I decided to go to Lyon. It is a gorgeous city, one that I would like to return to and get to know better.

Lyon is a major city and is very scenic being on the confluence of two rivers, the Saone and the Rhone. It is a city which divides the north and south of France. Check it out on Wiki travel for more detail.

I arrived in the mid of the afternoon and after checking into my hotel set out on a walk around town. I had a big splurge on a decent hotel very near the main square and with a view of the Citadel. From here it was an easy walk through the old parts of town. There was lots of great shopping - alas, only window shopping for me since I don't want to carry more stuff around in my last month of travelling.

The city is located on a hill and the cathedral sits high above on the hill. I had a great time walking until it started raining heavily. Fortunately, I found a bar to shelter in and sampled a nice Beaujolais wine. An hour later it was sunny and I continued my tour. The pattern of the weather while I was there was heavy rain every other hour and sun in between the rain showers. It was warm so it was not that bad.

Given thie rainy weather I decided to do a Beaujolais wine tour. I had a great afternoon touring the countryside in a small bus with a group of 8 others. We drove through each of the 8 villages which produce Cru Baujolais wines (the best of the wine appellations which are named after the villages) and went to a cellar for a tasting of the Regnei Beaujolais.

The tour guide made a point of telling us that the Beaujolais Nouveau, which is the Beaujolais you might have heard about,is not their best wine but is their most promoted wine. This wine is ready to drink in just a few months after bottling. It is available worldwide at midnight on the 3rd Wed of November each year with great fanfare. It is made from the current year's grapes after only 4 weeks in the casks. Beaujolais wines, whether nouveau or cruz are not wines that keep for a long time. The Cruz Beaujolais, the better Beaujolais, are bottled after 18 months and will keep for 5 years at most. Compare that to Bordeaux wines which are bottled after 2 years and keep for 10.

I really enjoyed the Beaujolais Village wines. The wine is distinctive - made from just one grape variety - gamay. The wine making practices seemed a bit more relaxed than Bordeaux, for instance they are allowed to add sugar or acid in years when the weather produces inferior grapes.

One thing I learned at this wine tour is that grape vines grow for 90'years and their roots can go as deep as 150 meters down into the ground, No wonder they don't irrigate. With such deep roots they sure don't need it.

I made some friends who were from the States, a mother and two adult children hailing from California, Oregon and New Mexico and so had dinner company as we splurged at a better restaurant, recommended by the wine tour guide, featuring authentic Lyonaise cuisine. We found out afterwards that one of the dishes my companions ordered contained cows feet. Apparently it is grisily and gelatinous. I stuck to more conventional fare, a dish featuring flank steak and potatoes.

Wednesday I am travelling by train to Chamonix. It is a 4 hour journey with 2 train changes. I am hopin g to leave this rainy weather behind and so be able to enjoy the wonderful Alpine views.

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