After this gastronomic delight, our next stop was to Bellet Vineyards, Château de Bellet, which has been in the Bellet family for generations. The tour guide, Clementine, is the great-great-great- (can’t remember how many “great”s) grand daughter of the founder. It is her parents that currently live here. A charming story of the trompe de l'oeil on house….a few centuries ago, the people were taxed based on number of windows in their home and her great-great-...grandmother loved to look of windows on the outside so the 3rd column of windows (the column to the right of the tree) on the house is fake! It looks grand but if you open the shutters, there is just a wall. That's one way to avoid the taxman!
The soil or terroir is composed of sand and rocks called pudding. The rocks are polished from being under water thousands of years ago which also enables the rocks to retain heat. This area is blessed with 300 days of sunshine a year and a steady climate. The grapes have to work hard on the vines and in the "pudding" soil so they have a deep rich flavor, and one that reflects the terroir.
The white wine is aged in oak barrels, the rosé in tanks, and the red wine in tanks as well. The white is lovely, not sweet, not to tannin, surprising for me as I don't usually like white wine. The rosé is sweet, too sweet for me though. The red is nice. I got an aroma of sneakers (no one else got that), musty, and deep red fruits.
The vineyards lie about an equal distance between the ocean and the Alps both of which you can see in the distance, and a lovely breeze continually blows.
Hernan, one of the cooks on the trip, is from Argentina. He lives in Scottsdale but drives like he is still in Argentina flying around the curvy roads. We of course got lost and Armand (from Canada, lives in Newport RI, one of the managers who's been on this trip 4 times!) was wigging out because he couldn't read the map. As it turns out he had it upside down, and we kept finding ourselves back in the same place. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry or if we were really innocent victims in a new reality show. We found the A4 eventually after backtracking a few times and arrived just in time for dinner. This was supposed to be our early day. Oh well… as all the managers say, "C'est la vie, c'est la France." Translation: That's life. That's France. Three little words that can completely excuse someone's utter incompetence… I'll have to remember that! ;-) It's that corporate-ness in me again! I really must let go of that if I am going to survive in this country or this industry for that matter... All the pictures from this visit are located here.
I went to dinner with 2 other cooks to the restaurant on the road that runs along the beach. Marine Café, owned by a tall, charming, handsome, blond hair, blue-eyed Frenchman Olivier, is a wonderful local restaurant with good local food. He was so excited to tell us about his trip to the US and especially California. I had my favorite, moules and frites (mussels in white wine garlic both). Life is good :-)