Less than an hour outside Lyon we turned off the highway into Beaujolais country. Since someone had the “brilliant” marketing idea that marketing the (too young) Beaujolais Nouveau, the area’s reputation as wine producer took a steep dip. It paid off financially, but caused serious wine drinkers to look elsewhere for the higher quality wines they wanted.
Mostly gamay grapes are grown in the region with a smaller amount of Chardonnay, and some acres with trial fruit to hedge against global warming in the future – that is already effecting crops.
We stopped at Chateau Varennes, a relatively small, organic, sustainable vineyard and wine maker.
Their gamay and some Chardonnay grapes are fermented in concrete vats and aged in stainless steel for the most part. A smaller quantity of each grape is put in new oak barrels that have been charred inside for aging.
We tasted both the young, fruity wines and the oak aged bottles. Both were good and have their place, but we opted for their Beaujolais Village, oak aged to bring back to open at one of our dinners.
The rolling hills of Beaujolais are just beautiful, especially in the great weather we’ve been having. Of the 12 appellations, we cruised thru Beaujolais, Beaujolais Villages and Beaujolais cru. It’s one of the largest wine regions in France, and we now have a new appreciation of the area.
Now back for a quick (and massive) lunch at the boat. Then off to our anticipated “Taste of Lyon” tour. We met our guide to walk off and savor the flavors and history of Lyonnaise Cuisine. We crossed the University bridge and turned left (toward the confluence) for the first time – a new area to explore.
We stopped at a very little, very local purveyor of cured meats, pates, lentils and other savory treats. It was aptly named Abel, reminding us of first grandson, Abyl.
We explored (sampled) and learned about many local, traditional cured meats, while sipping glasses of wine, of course.
In France, every part of the animal is used. Waste is a sin, I agree. Some of the meats were from the center of the animal, some from the top regions, etc. You can use your imagination.
These were our primary tastings, with other “intermezzos”. Hearty “merci’s” and off to the next stop while discussing Lyon’s fame in its dedication to the French culinary scene.
The next stop was the Bistro Martine, another very small family run cafe. The owner was a local expert in the cheeses of Lyon.
The wine to accompany our tasting was served in historically significant glass bottles. These bottles appear to be 1/2 liter, but the false bottom allowed the owner to give about 4 oz. less to each recipient. As part of their pay, the bosses would include two bottles of wine each week to their workers. These were the bottles that saved the boss lots of money in the long run..
We had four types of the local cheese that were delicious, but not as spectacular as other French and Italian cheeses we’ve tried elsewhere. Still a beautiful experience.
From there to an artisan chocolatier. He uses a beautiful blend of international dark chocolate. Lots of “ummmms” during this tasting for sure. Lots of purchasing too.
Varieties of solid bars. Only thing that will come close will be our stop at Valrhona in a couple of days.
Our final stop was at a famous local pastry shop featuring, as most Lyonnaise pastry shops do, the Pralinessima Originale, the pure butter brioche filled and coated with pounded pralines (strangely pink for some reason), but scrumptious beyond the color for sure.
Then a welcome walk back to the boat for dinner and some sleep while the boat sailed toward Vienne where we would do a morning walking tour of the charming, old, Roman settled town.