Saturday, May 25, 2013

Wine-tasting and Saturday morning market

Yesterday, the group took a trip to Chateau des Vaults, which is a family owned winery located about 25 minutes from Angers in a part of France called Savennieres. It was exactly what you would expect from a small French winery - charming, beautiful and embedded with history.

The woman who was in charge of the winery (the chateau was passed down to her by generations of women in her family) first took us up to the vineyards, which was a small hike up a hill. The view at the top of the hill was amazing and we could see miles of countryside, as well as the huge raincloud that was coming our way. Fortunately, we were informed that the top of the hills don't get much rain, which is why the vines are located at the top of the hill. Vines don't like rain, but they like sun.

The woman (and unfortunately I can't remember her name) told us that in France, the way they make wine is not labeled by the type of grape they use, but rather the landscape. She said every vintage of wine is different, even if they use the same grape. It all depends on the weather that year, the amount of rain, the amount of sun, etc. For example, when we were wine-tasting, we tasted the same type of wine from 2003 and 2007. The one from 2003 was much sweeter than the 2007 because they had a heat wave come through that year, making the grapes sweeter.

A group of us last night before we went out to a party for international students. 

Fresh fruit at the market. 

Seafood at the market

Some of my market purchases today - I couldn't resist a chocolate croissant 

A bottle of red wine I bought from the winery! 

For the actual wine tasting, we were then taking into the small yet quaint tasting room which literally looked like it came straight out of the 1800s. It smelled of old wood and was decorated with floral prints, large woven tapestries, light green walls, and big picture frames with pictures of what looked to be important family figures. We tried 3 different wines, which were all white, and absolutely delicious! Although I'm no where close to being a wine connoisseur, I could really taste the difference between these and other wines I've had. This came as no surprise, as the wine is made completely organic with absolutely no chemicals.

Every Saturday morning here in Angers there is a market. The city streets are lined with vendors selling fruits, vegetables, fresh bread, cheese, meat, clothing - basically anything you can imagine. I was most excited for the fruits and vegetables, as I heard they are absolutely amazing and fresh. I've been waiting all week to buy fruit!

What mostly caught my eye was the strawberries, which gave off a sweet aroma that I could instantly recognize. Besides the fruit, I also picked up some cheese because I heard that nothing at the supermarket compares to what you can get at the markets. I went up to a cheese vendor, asked an older man if he could speak English (in French, by the way...) and luckily he did. I asked what he recommended because the amount of cheese was overwhelming and entirely in French, and he let me sample two different kinds of soft cheeses. One from cow's milk, and the other from sheep's. Both were delicious, but I decided to go with the cow's milk because it had a more mild flavor that I preferred.

Going to the market was a bit difficult being unable to speak French, and it seems as if the people here can somehow instantly pick me out as an American even without speaking to me. Because I'm basically forced to use French, I'm picking up on it quickly! Hopefully I'll get some of the basics down in a couple of weeks.

Sunset and a full moon at a park in Angers. 

The window in the wine tasting room. 

3 glasses during wine tasting. 

A panini sandwich and an espresso I had for dinner yesterday (I still can't figure out how to order just a regular black coffee.. not even sure if that exists here)

The group walking up the hill to the vineyards. 

The Chateau des Vaults! 

Looking forward to more fun times ahead!


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