Tuesday, December 20, 2011

La Cave de Vin à Nantes

Itinerary update: it turns out we were actually going to Nantes today, and I found out yesterday. We're going to be here until Saturday night, Christmas Eve, which we're going to pass here. Then Sunday morning, Christmas day, we're going to head back to Mûrs, or rather, Béhuard (the little island of my cousins, which I took some pictures of, il faut que je vous montre!) for Christmas lunch and presents with the little kids. Then we'll go back to our house, for just one night, and the next day, to Paris! We'll be sleeping over there, I think, two nights and then home for New Year's. So, yeah that's pretty awesome!
Anyway, today we woke up early to get a ride to Nantes, the 5th biggest city in France. We're not actually in Nantes, just in the suburbs but we'll go into town later. Today, after lunch, we went to the movies and I finally saw les Intouchables: it was amazing and I'm not even sure if it exists in America, it was definitely a French movie but it was really good! Then after, we went to a wine cave. It belongs to a couple, who are both in their 70's but they still pump out Muscadets! They have about 10 hectares, if I understood correctly, of vineyards just out back. The cave that I visited was all stone and clay walls. It was probably at least 1 degree colder in there than outside and the air was, for lack of another way to put it, rich with the scent of wines.

 There were stacks of giant barrels, souvenirs of the old days when they stored wine in them. They don't do that today, at least not at this winery.

 On the walls were old tools and photos used before the modernisation of the wine biz.

 A very unflattering and blurry picture of me next to a mini wine barrel. This is one is something you'd find in a household, or rather a castle, since it's got a spout for filling ip glasses directly. The bigger ones just had a giant cork wedged in the top.

 There were literally thousands of bottles lining the walls!

 There were also a lot of trophies and plaques from contests they must have won.

 These are the giant barrels, about my height and just for decoration now.

 We walked in and there were the proprietors as well as two other men who worked there sitting around the table, having a glass and talking. We were invited to join them and since the last bottle was empty, they just grabbed one of the racks, uncorked it and served it just like that. I had a glass and it's probably the only wine that I've ever tasted and liked. It was really cool and fresh-tasting and not bitter like a lot of other wines I've had. Probably because it was from this year so it hasn't had time to age... The table, and the little stools, the cork opener and the lamp were all made from this really beautiful wood, probably special wood that they used to use for the barrels to give a certain flavor.

 That's the chandelier previously mentioned.

 On the wall was a list of prizes dating back to the early 1900's, which were unfortunately mounted higher up on the wall and I couldn't get a good picture of them. But they're all written in this awesome handscript and framed.

 After we got a mini-tour of the equipment they actually use today. This is a kind of manhole that leads down to a little room, pictured below, that they fill with wine from the latest harvest.

 The wine stays in these underground, stone-walled rooms for I-don't-know-how-long. From there it gets taken out for bottling.

 These are giant tanks, lining the walls, also for the storage of wine.

 Those are the hatches that lead down to the rooms for the wine. There must have been at least 8 set into the floor. In this picture, the one on the left is empty but on the right it's filled with wine. The owner opened it for us and it was literally an underground room full of wine. Pretty cool.

 This was just a picture of the start of the vineyards, they stretch on for hectares after! Obviously, now they're all dead and chopped down but there are other vineyards out here still going before the end of the season. This area is definitely a wine country region; on the way up we passed countless fields of grapes!

 This is not actually the final product, I'm not sure what stage this is.

 This is the final product and actually my very own bottle. Our grandmother here in Nantes bought 80 bottles of wine for Christmas so they gave her a bottle free. I got one too, a little souvenir which I'll bring home at the end of the year.

That's the label but unfortunately you can't see the little picture of the vineyards. It's cool though.
So that's what I did my first day in Nantes. I might not be able to post again for a while because I'll be pretty busy but don't worry I'll take plenty of pictures of Paris at Christmas and hopefully this time my camera won't die on me after 5 minutes!
À bientôt!

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