Sunday, July 06, 2014

Amour in St. Amour

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A week after we tackled the bottom end of the "Wine Route of Beaujolais" (check out my post 'Golden Stones in the Beaujolais Region ), we decided to tackle the upper end, starting at the very top in the romantically named village of St. Amour, which also gives name to one of the eight grand 'crus' of Beaujolais: the cru of St Amour (A Cru, for the non-cognoscenti, of which I used to be one not so very long ago, means a sub-region of a wine region). This, by the way, is not the same St Amour where the Chinese notoriously go to get married - that is another village of St Amour, close to Paris. This St Amour turned out to be a plain-Jane postage stamp-sized village, with a plain-ish town hall and a church and a couple of houses. And a Cave. No, not that thing lions use for setting up dens, although there was a lioness in this one. A Cave, also for the non-cognoscenti, is what the French call a wine cellar, where a vineyard stores its wine in oak barrels and allows visitors to sample their produce for free - and then look at you meaningfully, expecting you to buy the bottle.

Well, here was a wine called St Amour in the village of St Amour in a cave called St Amour... wouldn't it be unromantic to let it pass, I told Blandine? Blandine, always the practical one, pointed out it is not comme il faut to walk into a cave and sample the stuff and not buy it - and she had no intention of buying a Beaujolais, a wine she detested. But I gurgled and quacked and gave my dying duck impression, and she sighed and gave in.

Here is the cave...


And here are the village town hall (Mairie) and church...



Sorry, no interior shots of the cave. This is where the lions come in. We strolled in, it was deserted. We clanged the bell. We clanged it again. After a sinister stage wait, a lady of formidable aspects stalked in, tail swishing, eyes glinting.  We took her to be the proprietress. She looked a bit like a lioness. And not just any old run-of-the-mill sunny-tempered lioness, but a lioness in a distinctly foul mood. Possibly we had woken her up from the mid-morning siesta. Or possibly she had been in the midst of polishing off her mid-morning zebu. In any case, there was no question of asking permission for taking photos of the interior, a thing most French detest. No question also of sidling out sheepishly, saying we'd pressed the bell by mistake. Here, clearly, was a woman who would not laugh it off as a joke.

We sampled her stuff. I found it a rather jolly wine, full of strange, intoxicating scents, and sweet - which is how I like wine to be. But who am I to say? To me all wines taste more or less the same - funny smelling colored liquids in funny shaped bottles. Blandine said (later, not out loud), that it was a rather ordinary wine. But no question of not buying it. Oh no. One look at the lady's eyes and Blandine pulled out the euros. I felt rather guilty about it all. Luckily, it wasn't terribly expensive, as French wines go.

Here is the blessed bottle we bought, placed in the backdrop of the lady's vineyard (or what we took to be her vineyard - no question of going back in to reconfirm).




Nope, we still haven't drunk that bottle. Blandine refuses to touch it. She says to take it back home and share it with my friends. My MALE friends, she specifies. Oh well, male friends back home, you're gonna get to sample some Beaujolais soon...

Here is the countryside around St. Amour... a lot more romantic than the village itself. As Janet Jackson once said, That is the way amour goes, that's the way amour goes...


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