Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Rhone Valley Wine Here We Come!

This day started in a whirl of panic for Tammy and Joanne as they overslept and our train to Avignon left at 9 am. Then to make matters more stressful, we took the metro to the wrong train station. We did make our train, however, with a whopping 5 minutes to spare. Which brings me to the subject of riding trains in Europe, if you have not done this yet let me give you a few tips  1. Travel light, lugging a suitcase on and off a train with little time to spare can be cumbersome and you almost always have to climb several flights of stairs. 2. Read your train ticket carefully, it will tell you what station you leave from, what car number your seat is in, and in which class of service you are booked. 3. Don't be afraid to ask for help, many people in Europe speak English. 
We arrived in Avignon and took a taxi to a predetermined meeting place to wait for our ride to the wine B & B in Chareauneuf du Pape. During our wait time we walked into the center of town and had some lunch. Out ride to the B & B was with a little Frenchman who was happy to share some of the local history. He was quite playful and teasing as we have found many of the Frenchmen to be.
Then we met Danielle Raulet-Reynaud, Sommelier and proprietor of the B & B. She was the first female sommelier in France and once a finalist as best sommelier in France and travels the world teaching her craft, so we were about to learn from one of the best. She started our evening explaining the wines of the Rhone Valley in her wine cellar below the B & B. There are four classifications of wines in this area, the one produced in Chateauneuf du Pape being one of the best, the wines can be crafted from just one grape or up to thirteen different grapes combined .We were then joined by six young Germans who were here only for the wine. They had just spent three days with Danielle wine tasting in the area and were headed home the next day. Danielle prepared an evening of wine and cheese pairing with at least 15 different wines. One of the last wines of the evening was from her private collection and cost between 450 and 500 euros. At 1 am we were finishing up with dessert and tastings then stumbled into bed for a good night of sleep before our first big hike if the trip. 

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