ABOARD AMADOLCE-Morning brought the AmaDolce to the Gironde estuary and the town of Pauillac, the starting point for my tour of the world-famous region of Medoc.
The most exciting part of the day for me would be the opportunity to actually see the places that belonged to the names I had only seen previously on fabulous (and usually expensive) bottles of wine: Latour, Lafite Rothschild, Mouton Rothschild, Margaux, Saint-Estephe, Saint-Julien, etc.
I snapped photos of some of these legends (most from a distance) and got to the front gate of Chateau Margaux, now owned by the Italian Agnelli family of automobile fame. Our guide seemed to think it was just plain wrong for such a famous winery in such a very French region to be owned by anyone who was not French.
I did see and smell the grapes of Chateau Margaux and marveled at the little plastic gadgets that give off female pheromones that attract male insects. I was told that when the male insects arrive at the plastic and see that there are no actual waiting female insects, they become discouraged and fly away. Apparently it works—and is a lot better than pesticides.
The tour visited the Chateau Gruaud Larose, home of the famous Grand Cru Classe of 1855. After climbing up the chateau’s new glass tower, which offered wonderful views of the entire area, our group moved on to the fermenting cellars, the wine warehouse and the family’s old vintages.
What we had all been waiting for, of course, was the visit to the brand new tasting room in the winery’s striking glass tower. We sampled three different Millesimes interspersed with bits of cheese and baguette. As our guide was pouring generously, some of our group went back for seconds (and even thirds). To add to our wine education, we heard about the primary fragrances that can be identified in wine. (Hint: they include fruit.)
Our tour concluded with a panoramic drive that allowed us to photograph some of the famous chateaux I mentioned previously.
The appropriate ending to a day like this was dinner at the Chef’s Table, the intimate alternative dining venue on the AmaDolce. We were served so many gorgeous small plates: Foie gras de canard, caviar, sautéed escargot, crayfish ragout, Charolaise ox short ribs, lavender-flavored cake, fondant au chocolat and more. Our white wine was Chateau Blanc de Camarsac (from Bordeaux, of course) and Chateau L’Etoile de Villegeorge (from Avensan and Ludon)
(I knew there would be overeating and drinking sublimely and I have not been disappointed.)