July 4, 2015
A Tale of Time and Tunnels
The Matterhorn shown brightly as we awoke in our mountain refuge from the summer heat. A full breakfast and we were on our way down the 30 kilometer twisting road through scenic Alpine villages and a few crazy Italiam drivers. We reached the freeway and enjoyed a peaceful drive through the Aosta region. We finally ran out of easy terrain and entered the land of tunnels. We could ha voided the big tunnels by going over St. Bernard Pass. Peggy knew that if we went that way that we might have a rapidly growing puppy with us. Goldie would be too jealous.
We went through a half dozen two or three kilometers in length. We headed towards Monte Bianca or Mont Blanc in French. We went through a complex series of gates and entries, paid our hefty toll and entered the 12 kilometer tunnel that goes under Europe’s highest mountain. I was expecting to get loaded on a train but we just drove in a tightly regulated way through the nearly endless tunnel. When we emerged we were treated to the valley of Chamonix and a stunning glacier next to the highway. We were in France. The tunnels were mostly behind us.
Notice the Subaru Rally Team. I bet their AC works.
Being Saturday, there were few trucks. The driving was easy despite the endless vacation trailers from the Netherlands it seems that every Dutch family has at least one travel trailer. This being summer, none are in the Netherlands. The big issue for us today was the heat. Without AC you can only feel comfortable for so long in 100plus heat. I kept my focus and we reached Pommard in a little over 4 hours.
We had wanted to go back to Pommard since we were there in 2003. There was record heat then and today is the same. The thermometer says 107 or 39 Celcius. I don’t know if it is coincidence or it is because we are here. They may put up a border warning about us in the future. Our room over the bar proprietor couple are friendly.
The room is held up by 600 year old tree branches. We have a en suite shower and toilette and a 10 inch TV. No AC but a big fan. We had a cheese and salad plate with a glass of the local Pommard wine. It was great with the bread that only the French can make. The wife of the proprietor’s father is a winemaker down the street about 50 meters away.
We headed there first but we were forewarned that Papa might not be open with the heat. His place is across the street from the large Chateau de Pommard winery. It is owned by an American that explains the flag on the gate. It also explains the Napa Valley approach to marketing. I passed on the 15 Euro per person tour. I wanted the old Pommard that I remember.
We crossed the street to a cellar that looked familiar. It was owned by the same family that we had visited in 2003. I asked if this was the same place where Wild William lived. The woman looked slightly taken back. She said her brother and her son were named William. I told her the story about drinking wine that her father called Wild William after his grandson. The connection was immediate. Young William is in wine school in Beaune. Grandpa would be around later after the football matches are over. The wine is still family grown and produced and was delicious.
Peggy and I then poked around in the torrid heat. We found one vintner open. He and his wife grew and made their own wine. Equally delicious. I like the places that are the basement of the house. Of course there was no charge in either of these traditional wineries. This was the nice time warp we enjoyed. Not all of Europe has been modernized.
We bought some handmade chocolate to go with our Pommard. The cacao beans are in the cellar. The machinery is in the shop. It was the movie, Chocolat with no Johnny Depp.