I’ve long been an enthusiastic drinker and advocate of rose wines, much to the skepticism – if not derision – of others. But I’ve stood my ground. It’s not nasty, sweet white zinfandel I’ve been quaffing, but crisp, dry, grown-up rosés, which go beautifully with seafood. Now that we’re in the south of France – in the Languedoc region – and the home of exemplary specimens of this gorgeous wine, I’m being vindicated.
A rose we picked up in Le Somail; Rick and Harriet enjoy it while working on their iPads.
It hasn’t been too hard, but we’ve gotten into a routine on our Canal du Midi cruise. Our days – of which a few remain – include at least one visit to a vineyard or winery where we taste and buy the region’s delightful offerings. They are shockingly inexpensive given how good they are; we’ve not paid more than 10€ for a single bottle (and usually no more than 12€ in a restaurant), and often less than 5€. That makes it easy to walk away with one or three bottles, which rarely remain full until the next day.
One of our visits was to Domaine du Tresor, which has a lovely unwooded (pas de bois) chardonnay, and a unique rose made from a “gris” grenache grape, meaning that they could make it from the whole grape instead of using red grapes and tossing the skins.
We also do some exploration of the towns. If you’re a sailor, you know the time-consuming effort of stopping a sailboat and going ashore:
– Pick a likely spot;
– Make sure the anchor sets;
– Check again to see if the anchor has set;
– Gather your belongings;
– Climb into the dinghy (assuming it’s launched and ready to go);
– Dinghy to shore;
– Find a dinghy dock and tie up;
– Make sure you’re tied up;
– Go a ashore.
With the exception of our last misadventure, going ashore here is much easier. With bow-thrusters and joystick maneuvering, it takes moments to sidle up to the edge of the canal, toss some lines over a bollard or around a tree, and go ashore.
Thus, if we see a likely town we’d like to explore, we simply get off and wander. Most villages have a church or a tower or a square to anchor it.
Capestang, which has a lively square and an imposing church.
There are alleys of ancient buildings. Occasionally, you run into an angry troll who’d prefer you didn’t take pictures of his beautiful flower boxes, but generally, everyone has been friendly.
Why make your house so pretty if people taking pictures of it offend you?
Most people’s dispositions have been sunnier than the weather, which hasn’t been sunny at all, but cold and rainy and blustery.
Rick and Skip, braving the weather.
Midday, we stop for lunch at a local restaurant, of all which have had beautifully prepared food and friendly service, happy to help us out with efforts at speaking French. (I speak only menu French, but it has been good enough.) Each meal has been accompanied by that lovely rosé wine. Because it’s all been organic and free of sulfites, we’ve been able to indulge with no hangovers.
Today’s lunch in Poilhes, which featured scallop carpaccio with roe and braised pork cheeks. And, yes, rose wine.
Along the canal, the scenery continues to be the same, but we’ve not tired of it yet. Aqueducts, incredibly low and narrow bridges under which we have to wedge the barge, alleys of plane trees, a tunnel, and the rolling countryside.
Alleys of plane trees or evergreens.
One of several aqueducts; it’s a real trip to have a canal go OVER a river.
Going through the tunnel at Malpas.
The French countryside; can’t wait to see it in the sunshine!
The forecast is calling for some actual sunshine in the coming days, so we’re hoping to see it all in the brightness of sunlight.