I love the sound of drifting off to sleep with just the sound of waves lapping the seashore and I got to fulfil this pleasure last night. It was also probably the best night’s sleep I’d had since we embarked on our ‘Tour Du Vin” and I’m sure in part helped by the clean and fresh sea air.
I excitedly woke up at 06:15, no alarm set, like a child on Christmas morning, and quickly threw on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt so that I could watch the sun rise over the Provençale hills.
This is what I was rewarded with, click; Sunrise Ile de Benedor
Having taken in this beautiful sight I returned to our room to get down to the serious business of the Blog and then a short swim in the cool early morning Mediterranean waters before breakfast which was part of our Demi-Pension.
I’m always impressed when I see great care being taken of beaches and on the Île de Benedor it’s no different, with a small crew sweeping up, cleaning and raking the sand on the beach and clearing seaweed from the shoreline, ready for another day’s visitors and residents.
Breakfast is impressive on so many levels! Firstly it’s served on the terrace, with stunning views.
Secondly, there is a range of fruits, yoghurts and cold meats and cheeses. Then there’s a full range of pastries including the usual pain au raisin and pain au chocolat but also a crêpe station. Finally, there’s a full cooked breakfast offering creamy scrambled eggs, grilled cherry tomatoes on the vine, spicy toulouse sausages and sauté potatoes! There is also a fresh orange electric juicer, a large bowl of juicing oranges and a chopping board and knife. Nothing beats freshly squeezed OJ and it’s even better when you don’t have to clean the machine afterwards!!
Fuelled up from our breakfast and with a long day ahead of us we jumped on the 09:40am Bandol ferry and were back at the Pool Area at Hostellerie Berard (short video) by 10:30am for a final swim before we set off and said Au Revoir to La Cadiere D’Azur and the Hostellerie Berard which had been our home for the last 5 days.
We wasted no time in getting to our next stop, our final Bandol vineyard, Chateau de Pibarnon and probably the most spectacular as this short video clip illustrates:
The approach is no less impressive as the dirt track twists and turns as it snakes its way to the vineyard. On arrival we parked promptly as we knew that we had just under 30 minutes before they closed for lunch. I rang the bell and we were invited into the cellars to join another English couple who were already enjoying a tasting.
We skipped the White as we had enjoyed a whole bottle with our Gourmet dinner at La Hostellerie Berard and so went for the Pibaronon Red and Rose.
Red: I got to taste 2 reds from the 2012 vintage. The first made with approximately 30% Grenache and 70% Mourvèdre which is drinking well now and is soft with berry fruits. The second red had for this vintage 95% Mourvèdre from their old vines which gave it a much drier more tannic flavour and was really suited more to ageing than immediate consumption.
2014 Rose: Made with 60% Mourvèdre and 40% Cinsault. This was a real gem with a wonderful bouquet and fruitiness. However, with space at a premium I had to hold back on purchasing this one.
Finally, I was able to taste a 22 year old Marc de Bandol, a wonderful spirit made from 100% Mourvèdre with a dark colour and the character of a fine aged malt whiskey.
I purchased 2 bottles of the white as these were more for immediate consumption whilst the Reds were really more suited to laying down and I’m trying to be more disciplined about buying wine that I can’t store properly.
What was really noticeable this year was that Le Vendage is starting early in many areas because of the exceptionally good summer weather, Pibarnon was no exception with it due to start around 24th to 30th August.
As we were leaving, the gates to the estate had already been closed and we were stopped by a French car trying to enter. The driver was an Englishman, Norman and his wife Julia who were staying locally at St.Cyr-sur-Mer and were on a wine tour. We shared with them a few of our discoveries and also discovered that their son, Dan Fancett, is a talented chef who is currently working at the The Nags Head, Walthamstow Village, E17 after spells in San Sebastien, and at Odette’s with Bryn Williams and prior The Galvin Brothers. I’m definitely going to be heading up to East 17 when I get the chance!
We hit the road again just after 1:15pm and what should have been a 3 hour drive up to Burgundy turned out to be a 6 hour slog with the first bit of the drive to Lyon taking nearly 3 hours because of high volumes of traffic and queues at the Péage!
Just after 7:15pm we arrived at our next destination the pretty and quaint Burgundian village of Meursault. Our hotel the stunning Chateau de Citeaux – La Cueilette is located just 10 minutes walk from the centre of the village and within walking distance of many of the major vigneron.
We hadn’t booked into the restaurant, something we sort of later regretted after visiting the restaurant as we were leaving!
So we unloaded the car and checked in; to our surprise they had upgraded us! A really nice touch after our horrendous journey.
Our room had a lovely balcony where we breakfasted each day and had a picnic the following night.
We had a quick freshen up after our journey and headed up into the village of Meursault. We found a lovely village Hotel/Bar called Hotel Du Centre – Alain Billard, Meursault
They have a formal restaurant with white tablecloths etc or you can sit in the bar with the locals and eat the same menu. Not standing on ceremony and not wanting too much fuss we went for the bar option and the 24 Euro set menu, which was great value and really authentic Burgundian food.
Starter: Gammon Ham in Parsely and Aspic. A Burgundian classic with the parsley balancing out the saltiness of the ham
Mains: Chicken Suprême in a creamy Epoisse sauce with Pomme Purre and French beans. I loved this sauce so much I asked to speak to the chef after service and he gave me the recipe! O Level French has never been more useful!
Cheese: Epoisse. Perfectly ripe and ready to eat
I also had a glass of the delicious 100% Chardonnay méthode traditionelle Cremant de Bourgogne, 2 sublime glass of 2012 Chorey Lès Beaunes and for with coffee a 20 year old Marc de Bourgogne from Joseph Cartron.
We strolled back to our hotel and again slumped into our bed, probably one of the most comfortable of our tour and slept like the proverbially logs!