Memories and Inspiration for Food, Travel and Life
My husband’s family has an older home in Bordeaux where we all get together in the summer, with a pool, country kitchen where his grandmother cooks all the meals, only one toilet for all twenty people, and a lovely little market in the town nearby.
It is about thirty minutes drive from the city of Bordeaux and right in the middle of some wonderful vineyards, in the Pessac-Léognan region of Graves. We went to visit the historic Château de Montesquieu, where we found dog paw prints in the old floor tiles which is something they historically did in the area, and from there on we tried to find them in every old place we entered.
One of the best wines I’ve ever had in my life, a white from Chateau Carbonnieux, is a delicious floral blend of Sauvignon and Semillion. Their 2012 vines didn’t fare so well, but they made rose with those grapes and it held up to some of those wonderful provincial roses. I started to notice that at the end of the row of vines in most vineyards there were rose bushes, which are able to tell the grower if there is an insect, mildew or other issue that could affect the vines. Tres interessant!
We went to the market to pick up some fresh strawberries for dessert, and somehow ended up at a stand run by… The owner spoke in English and asked where I was from. He had worked on the East Coast of the USA in the 1970’s in some of the best restaurants, and asked me if I knew who the chef named ‘Pierre Chambrin‘ was. Now, oddly enough, I did. He had also worked with my father, and had led us on a personal tour of the White House when he was the head chef for the Bush senior administration. Small world!
One of the few things I have wanted to do, go to Saint Emillion, finally happened this time. While the visit was short, it was a beautiful little town (abet teaming with international tourists). Chateau Guadet, the vineyard we visited in town, had a great presentation on their wines and tour through their underground limestone caves used for storage. Since Napoleon, all French vineyards have had to give 1% of their product to the French government to make ethanol to resell to make cheap alcohols like whiskey or industrial uses. They also mentioned using a sort of celestial system (biodynamic) for harvesting the crops which was the first time I had heard of anything like it. The wines were organic, which I appreciate, but always find a bit more ‘young’ tasting.
Some of my favorite things about the whole area of Bordeaux region is how peaceful the warm, lazy summer days can be; listening to the cicadas reminded me of being young and swimming in this lake we would visit in West Virginia; and the bright flashes from the static thunderstorms at night that break through the shuttered windows were unlike any storm we have in the South.
We are in the middle of moving to live between Barcelona and Paris for the next year, which I am really excited about. But, I think part of me will always think what a wonderful place Bordeaux would be to live. Open, green spaces and water, vineyards and winding country roads through picturesque little villages will always win me over.
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