18 July, 2011

“Vive le 14 Juillet” – Bastille Day

While we did not break open the Bastille and set the prisoners free we did crack open a few bottles of Burgundy wines because we had been released from the Cote du Rhone wine area and moved into Burgundy.  We just happened to be in Macon on the Saone when the day arrived and Malua was on a mooring overlooking the fireworks area for the celebrations of Bastille day.  Unfortunately it rained all day but cleared at sunset so the crowds could gather round and see the marching, military vehicles, speeches and of course the fireworks.  The local louts had been practicing all day with crackers and rockets right along the quay so we were immune to the bang bang of a few loose crackers.
The real show was great taking place right in front of our bow.  I like the smell of cordite in the air and we sure had that.  Fortunately none unexploded items fell on the canvas work of Malua although I had a bucket of water ready.
The move from the Rhone to the Saone is different, the flow less and the banks are more wooded but the main difference is the depth.  We now only have 1 to 2 meters below the keel and the banks are much shallower.  We pulled alongside a mooring and ran aground 3 meters from the pontoon.
The wine has also changed from Rhone to Burgundy.  We have in fact been drinking Beaujolais wine since Lyon but rode through the change to Bourgogne however when we reached Macon it was on to the local Macon and its 42 named villages.  The major wine is white with as they say rather unmemorable reds.  We purchased a couple of bottles of white Chardonnay from the Chardonnay village.  A great drop, quite unlike the bland wines of that name in Australia.
One of the most memorable rides was through the vineyards in the hills adjoining the river and to pickup a few bottle along the way.  However the French don’t seem to want to sell their produce from the cellar door.  It is more like a side door of a rather ordinary farm house.  Being about lunch time every door was closed.  Try as we may to find an inviting place to purchase the local; drop they were all closed.  At one vineyard we saw the fellow standing in front of a door having a smoke but by the time I locked the bikes to a pole and turned to enter the shop, the door was closed only to reopen at 3:00 that afternoon.  No wine for us that afternoon but back at Macon where on a side street was a great wine shop with a proprietor who has a brother in Melbourne so we were able to discuss the nuances of the Chardonnay grape in Oz and locally.  We purchased a fair quantity of the local drop and was able to walk to Malua’s cellar.  Thankfully it has rained the last few days so the river will have some extra depth to accommodate the weight.

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