On sort à Beaujolais! We’re off to Beaujolais! The morning is allocated to wine tasting in the north of the Beaujolais Province (almost to Mâcon) and the afternoon is for packing and such, as tomorrow is departure day for all but 24 of us. (The Heimdal has had 180 guests aboard.) We would have cruised to Mâcon, but high water levels made it impossible to get under the bridges.
To keep from overwhelming individual wineries, our various buses went their separate ways, including the one that got lost. Ours went to the commune of Pierreclos and its Chateau. The trip was a winding climb which left a few folks queasy. It was much greener than the trip to Pérouges. The bus required most of the road when we left the highway system. We were surrounded by grapevines, and the lecture from guide Annabelle was excellent. We thought we knew quite a bit about grapes and wine, and then she started using the view to provide talking points about vini-culture. Merci, Annabelle.
On our way, we saw Solutré, a rock massif with paleo-human significance that was discovered as a paleo site in 1866 by the French geologist and paleontologist Henry Testot-Ferry. It is now the Parc archéologique et botanique de Solutré. Occupied by humans for 55,000+ years, it is the cradle of the Pouilly-Fuissé wine appellation.
The Chateau was classically French. No longer a winery, (that work was moved elsewhere) it sits surrounded by grapevines and serves as a point of sale, teaching venue, and inn. Its tasting room was in the wine cellar where the rocks just exuded age. We were offered a Mâcon Pierreclos Chardonnay, a Pouilly-Fuisse, a Gamay Beaujolais, and a Bourgogne followed by a Creme de Cassis for the making of Kir Royales and such. As a palette cleanser, we were served bread and Gougère — unfilled pate-a-choux pastries garnished with Gruyere.
The young ladies at the Chateau were charming and earnestly wanted one to enjoy the experience. No one pushed the wine. We bought all but the Beaujolais and Cassis. We didn’t worry about getting them home, we still have eight days in France.
A word about our bus drivers. We’ve ridden a lot of buses on ski trips, garden trips, day trips, you name it. We have never encountered a group of drivers so competent as the ones we had on this trip. They maneuver these behemoths through streets intended for horse and carriage. We have seen them literally thread through spaces with less than three inches on each side. Their temperament has been nothing but helpful, and they keep the buses spotless inside and out.