This is the view from the top of the largest sand dune in Europe ~ La Dune Du Pyla.
But first, let’s go back. After visiting Jerome’s vineyard, and having those fabulous oysters we all packed up to go to Cedric’s (enologist for Katrine’s vineyard) home. I met his wife Laure, and their two adorable boys Raphael and Yohan.
Saturday night was fabulous ~ we had a small dinner party with a few of their friends. I was so touched as Laure had a french/english dictionary at the table …she said we were going to speak in english all night in my honor. By the way ~ they all speak fluent English… they just act like they might make a mistake 🙂 It’s very intriguing…. also we spoke about Stephen King books and Breaking Bad during aperitif hour…all while listening to Michael Jackson hits. Um ya…. so I felt totally at home to say the least. Sunday we woke up, and headed out to the coast. First stop… was this dune. We climbed to the top, (good workout!) and then relaxed in the sand enjoying the sea breezes and ocean air.
Forest on one side of the dune… Ocean on the other. You can see the oyster farms down below on the coast. Very peaceful.
Next, we were onto the charming sea side town of Biscarrosse. This is a sea village on the Atlantic coast in Southwestern France. To get here, was only a short hour and a half drive from Bordeaux…. It is also about two hours from the border of Spain! Laure’s parents have a cottage here with a short walk to the beach.
First, we stopped at the most delectable sea food shop and purchased shrimp (des crevettes), crab (un crabe), and of course… more oysters (des huitres). We also got a bottle of crisp white wine, and aioli to dip our fresh seafood into. A Gateau Basque was purchased for dessert. This is an almond tart with black cherry jam stuffed into it….. one of the best desserts I have ever had in France. Purely, simply delicious!
Cedric shucked the oysters right as we arrived at the cottage!
We enjoyed this meal so much. The sun was shining on our backs, we could hear the waves, the white wine was chilled and well balanced complementing the crustaceans perfectly, the fresh seafood was just that. So fresh, so scrumptious. To dip shrimp and crab into aioli with a squeeze of lemon is how I will now always prefer my boiled sea food. It was an awakening.
I of course peeled these guys… and I do not suck the juices out of the head…. although in Spain that is a very popular thing to do.
After our wonderful sea food feast, we headed to the beach.
I can’t believe I have never been to the Atlantic Ocean in the states… my first time here is in a beautiful french Village between Bordeaux and Spain. 🙂 That’s how I roll. Of course, I grew up with the Pacific Ocean in my life frequently being from California… but never the Atlantic. I love this!
I walked the beach and collected sea shells as a momento to never forget this day. EVER. I will place them in my flat in Paris in a small dish, and think fondly of my new french friends and visiting Biscarrosse, France.
I mean ~ How cute are Laure and Cedric? I am so happy I met them. We have been having the best time together. I feel like I have known them for years.
This was an over the top day. We already have plans for next Saturday…. stay tuned. It is such a pleasant surprise for me to be mingling with french people around my age in a small village. This was very unexpected but I have just clicked with this group of people living here in Saint Emilion. They are incredibly kind, warm souls who know how to LIVE. Our conversations center around food, winemaking, travel, curiosity of different cultures, great books and music. LOVE.
I came home around 8 pm from the coast… the next day at the vineyard was a busy day. We are now starting fermentation with the tanks of grape juice. We are converting the grape juice into wine. Yes, please! Harvesting of the Merlot grapes is finished. Cabernet Franc harvest will start next week. Basically, everyday I go into all of the wineries and measure the density of the grape juice for each tank. Then, Cedric (and I) come up with a plan of how we will treat each tank due to the density measurement, the taste of the grape juice, and the temperature.
Most of the tanks need what is called Remontage or in english (pumping over) This is where we use a pump and pump the grape juice back over the skins for an even distribution and to extract more tannins and flavors. We do this for each tank several times a day.
Here I am with Joni (wine maker) pumping the tank. Just another day making wine!
At some of the older, more traditional vineyards, such as Chateau Saint Julien… we do what it called Pigeage. Or punching down. This is where we push all of the grapes in a given tank back down through all the juice. It takes some muscles and can be quite dangerous. Again, doing this once per day will extract the tannins and flavor from the skins and make the grape juice stronger.
I hope everyone is having a lovely week. I am off to dinner in the village. My Professor (Monsieur Ramage) is in town and taking me and some of my classmates to a famous Saint Emilion Restaurant this evening! So excited to hear some of their stories and vineyard experiences… Au Revior Everyone!