Thursday was full of rest and relaxation aboard the ship, as we had a day at sea. We were poolside early to grab our loungers, and enjoyed a full day of sun, swimming, and cocktails! Dinner on Thursday was at one of our two specialty restaurants onboard, Chartreuse. Classically French, dinner did not disappoint. We started off with escargot swimming in a delicious burgundy sauce that was as rich as it was deep in flavor. It may have been the best escargot I’ve had. We also had a tri-color beet salad on a bed of goat cheese cream – so good! Next was a cream of artichoke soup, also delicious. Dover sole was my main entree (Mark had a beef short rib prepared sous vide that melted in your mouth!). We each tried a different dessert – mine was a tower of meringue with crystallized sugar and crème fraîche. I don’t typically like meringue, but this was heavenly. Great food, great company, great evening!
Today, we awoke to Marseille and some crazy mistral winds! We ventured out for our excursion to Chateau Val Joanis, a gorgeous vineyard in the Luberon region of Provence, about an hour from Marseille. The winery has been in existence since the 16th century, and encompasses nearly 1,000 acres. There, we took a tour of the winery and its award-winning gardens before having a wine tasting and classic French lunch (with three courses!).
We tasted a white, a rosé (our favorite), and two reds. We also learned an interesting fact. For younger wines (up to 3-4 years), the master vintner recommended you open the bottle (red or white) 24 hours before you are planning to serve it. Pour a glass, and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then funnel the wine back into the bottle and re-cork (refrigerate at this point if it’s white wine). This is a way to “decant” or aerate the wine, and it allows the tannins to dissipate. Here’s the part we didn’t know – you should never do this with an older wine, or you will lose the depth, notes, and bouquet that has formed over the years.
Rosé wines in France are nothing like what we have in the U.S. Here, rosés are high-quality wines, rich in aroma, character, and flavor. Another interesting fact – in France, wines are not named after the variety of grape. They are named after the region in which the grapes are grown.
On our way back to the ship, we stopped in the charming town of Aix-on-Provence for a couple of hours to stroll the streets and take in the sights. Lovely town!
We head a short distance up the coast of France tonight, and tomorrow we see Saint-Tropez!