19 Dec 2008

Wine tasting Westerberg-style

And here's a little story I wasn't going to write up, but a friend (thanks Mags ....) has insisted I must relate it .....

A few weeks ago now, Nic and I were talking to Claude, a friend and resident of Bize, about different wine domains in the area. He recommended one we should visit, about 20 minutes from here (and I'm certainly not naming it or saying exactly where it is...).

He wrote out the vigneron's name, address, directions, and the name and year of the wine we should ask to taste.

We found the little hamlet, no worries, and saw a sign on the big door of a wine cave - in French and English - saying if it was unattended, we should enquire at the house.

Now we'd passed this house about 50 metres back, and saw a wine sign outside of it. So we parked, walked back down to the house and knocked on the door.

A teenage boy answered, and I told him in my stumbling French that we'd like to taste some wine.

He looked a little puzzled, so I repeated myself.

"Now?" he asked.

"Oui, merci", I replied......

He looked a little flustered. At this stage the three of us were standing in the hallway of the house. He spoke to his three teenage friends who were sitting on the sofa watching a DVD, which our arrival had obviously interrupted.

They turned the DVD off, got up and left the room, and the young boy started removing all the folded up laundry from the dining room table and the back of chairs.

I think his friends had been despatched to find some wine.

It was about then that I had this awful moment of doubt - things didn't seem right!

In fact, we were both beginning to realise that perhaps we'd invited ourselves into someone's home and asked to drink their wine!

Deargod .... we had.

I brought out Claude's hand-written note, and showed it to him, and sure enough, he confirmed that we were in the wrong place. It was about 100 metres away!

It was just one of those awful moments when you think - this cannot be happening. Surely we haven't made this awful mistake. But we had.

My voice was very squeaky (read 'verging on hysteria') as I struggled to apologise profusely. And we made our exit - with no dignity whatsoever.

But this certainly says a lot about the amazing French hospitality .... I'm not sure I can imagine that happening in many other places!

But later, to make matters worse, when we finally arrived at the correct establishment we were told that the vigneron had recently been taken to hospital and so we weren't able to taste or buy any wine anyway. And no, we've not yet been back - but definitely will. Because of course, we know exactly where to go now!

Jeez, an experience like that's nearly enough to make a person leave the country!

And in fact I am - but only temporarily. I'm very excited to say that I'm heading back to Australia on Christmas Eve for about five weeks. Christmas Day at Singapore Airport (!) arriving into Perth on Boxing Day afternoon. It will be two years since I was there last, and I'm very much looking forward to catching up with family and friends.


Anyone up for a bit of wine tasting with me in Western Australia......?
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