Saturday, 19 June 2010

En vacances 2 - moving day, plus an extraordinary Languedoc red wine

We have spent a fabulous week in Agay. Diane and I quickly become accustomed to not having the boys with us and it is actually shaping-up to be one the best holidays we have had in many a year. Of course, it helps enormously that we love each-other’s company, and the relative solitude of our surroundings and the fact that we can do what we want, when we want has been very liberating – and very relaxing.
Since the rains of Tuesday, the weather has been fine and settled. Yesterday (Friday) was the hottest day so far, with temperatures having reached 30C or more in the afternoon. A cooling breeze and the occasional dip in the pool provided welcome relief. The only exertion we subjected ourselves to was a cycle ride down into the town to buy bread for dinner.

Early evening on the beach at Agay

We then repaired to the living room to watch (or perhaps endure would be a better word) England’s latest World Cup Match against Algeria. Frankly, our national team is becoming a bit of an embarrassment. The Premier League may be one of the best in the world, but then again most of its best players are foreigners. The England team may have one of the best managers in the business, but even he can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. In fact, they are almost as bad as the current French team! The sooner the preliminary stages are over and the rubbish teams like ours are on the plane home, the better – then we can get down to watching some proper football.

Anyway, back to more important things. Thursday, we drove to Antibes, to visit Fabrice and Sandrine. As I mentioned in my earlier post, Fabrice is a Gendarme, and each promotion means moving to a new location. Having previously been posted to Melun (near Paris), Versailles and St-Girons (near the Pyrénées) he had to move to Antibes around a year ago. Fabrice was on duty until 6pm, so Sandrine took us for a stroll around the town and the port. Although Antibes is as chic as any other resort town on the Côte d’Azure, it seems much more at ease with itself and less pretentious than (say) Cannes. It is relatively small and compact and much more like a traditional old French town. Even in mid-June (i.e. not yet the high season) its streets were thronged with people and the shops and cafés were doing good business.

The port is a different matter – some of the ships and yachts have to be seen to be believed, and Antibes is clearly THE place to be seen, if you have a few million spare to spend on a boat. And although the harbour was full of mightily impressive boats, it seems the best ones are anchored out in the bay…..

This was probably the most expensive and extravagant one we saw (note the helicopter as an add-on)......

….. but this was my favourite – quite the most beautiful and elegant boat I have ever seen

Of course, if you have a few million left over after you’ve bought the boat, you might also be able to afford a house on Cap d’Antibes – probably the most exclusive location in the whole of France

We returned to Fabrice and Sandrine’s apartment to enjoy a lovely dinner, including some delicious foie gras de canard, accompanied by sweet Montbazillac and Champagne – truly a match made in heaven.

With Fabrice and Sandrine (and the impish Baptiste – the older and much less mischievous Florent took this photo)

At the end of a lovely evening, we bade our farewells and promised to meet up more often – 7 years since the last time is far too long. On the way back to Agay, we came off the autoroute at Cannes and took a drive along the Corniche de l’Esterel. Although it was dark, it was no less spectacular a sight, with the lights of the towns and villages along the coast making for a beautiful backdrop.

Today was moving day, as we headed to the hills of Faugeres in the Languedoc. We were sorry to leave Agay - it was a lovely area and the house was just perfect. And we will certainly miss that wonderful sea view! We will definitely return there soon – perhaps even next year.

As I type, we have now arrived at our gite for the second week, in the small town of Laurens in the Faugeres region. And – joy of joys – I have a wireless Internet connection, so will be posting often over the next week or so. I’ll tell you more about the place tomorrow, but suffice to say it is fabulous and exceeds our expectations.

On the way, we visited Lucien Creus, father of Robert Creus, the winemaker at Terre Inconnue, and were treated to a tasting of some absolutely wonderful wines. Again, I’ll tell you more in due course, but here’s a tasting note on one of the wines, which we finished off with this evening’s dinner……

Terre Inconnue "Sans Nom" 2005 Vin de Table
All of the wines of Terre Inconnue are labelled as Vin de Table. Robert and Lucien cannot be bothered with the bureaucracy involved in applying for appellation controllée (or even vin de pays) status for their wines. Therefore, all of the wines are labelled as Vin de Table – basically the “lowest” denomination possible for wine produced in France. Indeed, strictly speaking, it is not permitted to even show a vintage on the label, although Robert gets around that problem by including a code (in this instance, L:2005) in small print in the bottom right-hand corner of the label. Simples! It is pure Grenache from vines of around 50 years of age. The nose is one of the most beguiling and distinctive I have ever come across in any Languedoc wine, and which almost defies my descriptive abilities. There are dense, spicy, heady fruits galore, combined with menthol, mint, eucalyptus, lavender, thyme, red meat, tar and polished leather. The palate is rich, tarry, deeply fruity and again full of mint and menthol flavours – almost like cough mixture with lots of nice things thrown-in. It also has a savoury, almost meaty quality, yet manages always to be elegant, with a lovely balance of fruit, savoury, tannin and acidity. To the very last drop, it remained utterly lovely and enormously complex – it is an extraordinary wine, by anyone’s standards. I’ll try and describe some of the other Terre Inconnue wines tomorrow. Meanwhile, it’s been a long day, so I’m off to bed!

1 comment:

Apartment in Cannes said...

You explanation is excellent and clear. I was impressed with this post and am looking forward to reading more from you ....

Bookmarked this.. ;)Thanks for sharing...