How can I describe the wines from this place? Nectar is the term that comes to mind. They are so pure, better than water – they actually taste good for you. After tasting Vouvray wine, I am spoiled for anything else (not that I could afford Vouvray in the US). I would taste the additives right away now.
Our guides have prepared a lovely lunch for us
Like all French vineyards, this one grows only one kind of grape – chinon – and makes all their wines from that. I learned that many of the California vineyards basically grow filler crops and mix their wines with wines (or grapes) they have imported. Disappointing to learn…
After that, it’s time to get fitted for our bikes. This is the model we'll be riding.
Independent activity is part of the Back Roads experience. Which also makes it kind of "snooze you lose" situation. I first discover this when I run off to use the loo, only to find I’ve missed some technical explanation of our bikes while waiting in line. Hoping it isn’t anything vital.
When I return, I am in time for a brief safety talk about managing traffic in general and roundabouts like this:
At first I tag along with a couple from Seattle. He is a mountain biker who came on this trip at his wife’s urging (he seems a little bored at the biking prospects). They are both total speed demons – they don’t mean to be, they are just used to mountains and today’s terrain is flat and easy for them. It takes some effort for me to keep up with them, but when it comes time to take out our instructions and turn them over, I am too slow for them. I give them freedom to carry on without me, and their silhouettes fade quickly into the distance, as I struggle to get the instructions back into the envelope. So there I am. All the anxieties of travel over, I’m right back where I started navigating on my own. Only now I’m by myself in the French countryside.
To be honest, this doesn’t bother me too much. For one thing, I did not travel to the Loire Valley to turn this trip into a spinning class. I intend to dawdle when I want to, take plenty of photos (who knows when I'll be back?) and if I get lost so be it. Meanwhile, this is the week the sunflowers have chosen to bloom. WOW.
We all meet at the hotel bar and introduce ourselves to the group one by one. This is a group exclusively of couples. I could feel left out I suppose, but the thing about these couples is that most of them have been together for 20-40 years; any bugs in their relationship have long since been worked out. You know how in any group there is always one person who’s difficult and demands attention? There’s nobody in this group like this (unless it's Yours Truly, a thought I try to keep out of my mind) – we can all relax.
Our dinner is prepared by a 2 Star Michelin Chef
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