Day 6 – Cruising on the Seine!

Picturesque View of the Seine Valley

Tiffany and Michael – Picturesque view of the Seine valley

Bonjour! 

Emily and Alex Serving Normandy Lunch

Emily and Alex serving Normandy lunch

Selection des Frommages

Selection des frommages

Chef Stefan Serving Lamb Shank Normandie

Chef Stefan serving Lamb Shank Normandie

Day 6 on the Seine began with another informative wine education presentation by Barry Wiss. We learned of the humble beginnings of the Trinchero family in Napa and its continued dedication to responsible agribusiness, producing wine using biodynamic practices to conserve energy, recycle, and re-purpose by-products. Barry also explained how to read French wine labels, from discerning AOC from AOP to which varietals are affiliated with Bordeaux and Bourgogne. Finally, we played “What’s Your Wine?”, and learned that the true parent grape of Zinfandel is not Primitivo from Italy but Crijenak Kastelanski from Croatia! Afterwards, Chef treated us to a Normandy Lunch, celebrating the various dairy, apple, and seafood products indigenous to the region. All week we have witnessed our Hotel Manager Markus return from the villages with a smile on his face and his arms full of fresh produce, shellfish, and baked goods! Bon Appetit!!

Petit Andely

Petit Andely

Peter's Cricifixion Notre Dame Stained Glass

Notre Dame Stained Glass – Peter’s Crucifixion

Petit Andely Village Corner

Petit Andely Village Corner

Our afternoon excursion took us to the cobblestone streets of Les Andelys, made up of Grand Andely and Petit Andely. In Grand Andely, we toured another Cathedral of Notre Dame, this one built for the queen in the 14th century. The stained glass in this cathedral is nothing short of spectacular! Les Andelys is a picturesque mosaic of early Norman architecture, idyllic natural scenery, and the sensory delights of a cozy French village.

 

Grazing Sheep

Grazing Sheep

High above the village lie the ancient ruins of Chateau Gaillard, a castle built by Richard the Lionheart in 1198 to protect Rouen and the rest of Normandy from King Phillip II and the French. Hewn from the chalk white limestone cliffs that adorn the river valley, Chateau Gaillard was the strongest fortress of its age. After Richard’s death, Phillip finally laid siege to the castle and captured it in 1204. It became a French historical monument in 1862.

Taste, Learn and Enjoy,

Tiffany & Michael of WineStyles Greensboro, NC

 

Day 2 – French Wine Cruise

King Luis XIV with the Queen

King Luis XIV with the Queen

Bonjour mes amis!

Apple Cider Francaise

Apple Cider Francaise

Chateau Bizy Royal Carriage

Chateau Bizy Royal Carriage

Our visit to Chateau Bizy yesterday gave us a royal taste of French nobility, as well as a taste of one of Normandy’s most celebrated products, la frommage! This historic chateau, designed as a miniature Versailles, has been the home to generations of the Suchet family, descendants of Napoleon Bonaparte, who still live in one of its wings. We enjoyed several workshops within the estate, including one on apple cider, which is an alcoholic beverage in France, and another on the four world-famous cheeses indigenous to Normandy; Neufchatel, Pont L’Eveque, Livarot, and Camembert. The cheese is prepared unpasteurized, as is customary within the province, and tasted fabulously unprocessed! We even had an unexpected visit from the flamboyant King Luis XIV, or was it just his ghost?

Hotel de Ville, Caudebec-En-Caux

Hotel de Ville, Caudebec-En-Caux

Our new friends, Christine & Larry

Our new friends, Christie & Larry

Upon return to the ship, we dined first class once again and spent the evening in the lounge dancing to the music of “Paolo”. By now, we have come to two realizations about river cruising – first, the intimacy, care, and level of hospitality and dining has ocean cruising beat 10 to 1. This is in part due to the exceptional friendliness and professionalism of the AMA Waterways staff. Secondly, with their smaller capacity relative to an ocean cruiser, fewer people combine with the hospitality to create a very familiar atmosphere for us – it feels like we are on a floating WineStyles! We already feel part of a closely-knit group of “club members”…

Napa Merlot vs Bordeaux Merlot

Napa Merlot and Bordeaux Merlot

On Saturday morning Barry Wiss conducted a fascinating presentation comparing the regions of Napa Valley, CA with Bordeaux, France. It is astonishing that wine has been produced for only 150 years in Napa, and, despite many major setbacks during that time, including the Earthquake of 1908, two world wars, the Great Depression, Prohibition, and numerous severe droughts, Napa’s wines consistently rank among the best in the world. With 17 different AVAs within a relatively small valley, Napa is able to grow an impressive assortment of grapes, producing varietals of exceptional quality, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sauvignon Blanc. The uniquely “Mediterranean” climate, affording a longer growing season with warm days and cool nights, combined with the fact that 50% of the world’s known soil types are found in the valley, result in a winemaker’s paradise.

Norte Dame in Caudebec-En-Caux

Norte Dame in Caudebec-En-Caux

Bordeaux, by contrast, is eight times the size of Napa, and has produced wine for thousands of years, since the Roman Empire. Tried and true, its wines are of similar excellent quality, generally with less fruit forward and more mineral characteristics. We were able to sample this first hand, tasting a Merlot from both regions. Though the soil is not as diverse as Napa, Bordeaux produces a variety of wines also, including Medoc, Sauterne, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Caudebec-En-Caux

Caudebec-En-Caux

Speaking of wine, AMA has treated us to a different French red and white each evening at dinner. Today we have arrived at Caudebec-En-Caux and will take a bus to the charming seaside village of Honfleur.

Be sure to check in with us tomorrow on the WineStyles blog, where you can hear it through our grapevine!

 Cheers,
Tiffany & Micheal Reynolds
WineStyles Greensboro, NC

French Wine Cruise – Paris to Vernon

Escargot! Bon Appetit!

Escargot! Bon Appetit!

Bonjour to our WineStyles family!

After a fabulous day and a half of eating, drinking, and sightseeing our way through the romantic city of Paris, we were warmly welcomed aboard the river cruise ship AMALegro.

The Louvre at Night

The Louvre at Night

We checked in to our beautifully appointed stateroom, and, after meeting Captain Franck and his crew, dined with new friends, enjoying a 6-course welcome dinner including a salmon and crayfish appetizer, Normandy mussel soup, grilled fillet of butterfish and prawn with Pernod sauce and saffron risotto, and, of course, a glass or two of Beaujolais!

Shimmering Eiffel Tower

Shimmering Eiffel Tower

After dinner, the ship set sail on the Seine, pausing at the Eiffel Tower for us to watch a delightful light show, as thousands of bulbs affixed to the tower lit up the nighttime sky over Paris in synchronized splendor.

Seine River at Night

Seine River at Night

Despite a chill in the upper deck air, our hosts kept us warm with “vin chaud” (hot wine), roasted chestnuts, and their gracious hospitality.

Bartender Plamen with French Varietals

Bartender Plamen with French Varietals

We ended the evening with a glass of Prosecco at the piano lounge, where we got to know the most important person on the ship besides the captain, our Bulgarian bartender Plamen!

On Friday morning we found ourselves well into Normandy Provence, marveling at the precision with which our floating hotel was navigated through the narrow locks system on the Seine.

La Roche Guyon - Romme's HQ

La Roche Guyon – Romme’s HQ

On river right, before arriving at Vernon, we viewed La Roche Guyot, complete with castle ruins and the stately residence which at one time served as the German General Rommel’s headquarters during the Nazi occupation of France.

Barry Wiss of Trinchero Family Estates

Barry Wiss of Trinchero Family Estates

After a briefing from our Cruise Director John on the many exciting excursions planned for our journey on the Seine, we were treated to our first educational wine presentation from Barry Wiss, Vice President of Trade Relations for Trinchero Family Estates in Napa Valley, California.

Fruit & Cheese from the Galley

Fruit & Cheese from the Galley

His opening topic addressed the important role aroma plays in the enjoyment of wine, and how to most effectively sniff and swirl in order to identify primary, secondary, and tertiary aromas.

We got to practice on two very nice Napa selections, Gott un-oaked Chardonnay and Sea Glass Pinot Noir.

Riverbank Chateau

Riverbank Chateau

Presently, we are off to visit Chateau Bizy in the riverfront village of Vernon, our first port of call.

Griffin at St. Michael's SquareBe sure to check in with us tomorrow on the WineStyles blog, where you can hear it through our grapevine!

 Cheers,
Tiffany & Micheal Reynolds
WineStyles Greensboro, NC