What a crazy weekend – first, 2.5 days of intense wine education at Vinea, the wine fair in Sierre. It ended for me and a group of journalists Saturday night late, with an extraordinary dinner at Didier de Courten’s restaurant, 19/20 Gault&Millau, with a lineup of beautiful wines to accompany the meal.
The only problem was that I had to check out of the Chateau Mercier in Sierre and trot down the hillside to catch a 06:22 train from Sierre to Geneva. Not a lot of sleep, but just enough time to buy a bun and a cold coffee drink for the journey. I dozed from Martigny to Lausanne, woke up – and then we sat for 20 minutes near Renens, where they had in fact announced rail works that would skewer the normally fluid Swiss rail schedule.
Of books and wine
I fretted a bit because I was scheduled to catch a boat in Geneva at 09:15 in order to read from my Swiss wine book, Vineglorious! More trotting down the hill in Geneva from the train station to the lakefront, noisy little rolling suitcase filled with books in tow. I was one of 10 authors invited to read and then sell our books on the steamboat.
I was on time, the boat was a wee bit late, and the wheels on the bag stopped going noisly round and round. The day turned serendipitous. The lake was gloriously blue and France in the distance had an elegant patina, the readings were all good and interesting and varied, I sold some books, all to people with whom I enjoyed chatting about Swiss wines.
Ms Hadley on writing well
And then the cherry on the cake, several minutes of listening to British best-selling writer Tessa Hadley, who read some of her work and talked about the writing life – she was enthralling, largely because she is so articulate.
Yes, yes, the wine, I’m coming to that.
On a bubble of love and literature I walked off the boat in Morges and promptly found myself in front of Alexandre Truffer, who was busy selling wine books. We said hello and I moved to the next stand, Domaine de la Ville de Morges wine. Note that the book fair is not a wine fair or even a wine book fair, so a wine magnet must have been tugging me.
“Le Protagoniste” and La Grande-rue, two wines from the city’s award-winning winery, jumped out at me. How had I never noticed them before, with such wonderful literary names, hinting at crime and drama? Marc Vicari, who manages the domain, said hello and assured me these have been around for a while.
I would have bought some but I was tired, and settled for taking a photo. I tugged my suitcase to the end of Independence Park, where my kind man, Nick was picking me up.
All I wanted this evening was to unwind, have a simple supper and a nice wine. Nick made a simple pasta with tomato sauce and poured the wine.
Reading my mind
“Le Protagoniste” – he who had not gone to the book fair had, it turns out, picked up some of this wine at the city winery the other day when he was collecting some wine I ordered. He couldn’t resist a bottle. He bought a “Grande-rue” as well.
The gods of wine are sending me a message about writing, for “Le Protagoniste” 2013 (coveted Terravin Laurier d’Or quality label) is, I discover, a splendid wine that, at CHF14, is unbeatable for quality/price. It’s a beautiful blend of Gamaret and Gamay with a deliciously spicy nose of cloves and black fruits and tobacco, very smooth and easy to drink. Love at first sip. Alexandre Truffer, for it turns out he wrote the wine’s description for them, also mentions cardamom, which I didn’t find in the nose, so tomorrow’s wine task is to sniff some cardamom and remind myself what it’s like on its own.
Spice, beauty, smooth talking, darkly mysterious and totally distracting. Wine is turning out to be an agent provocateur for writing a good novel.