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For the love of wine: A ride through the French countryside

I recently wrote about our stay in Bergerac, France. Our trip continued with a biking adventure through the French countryside.

To give this ride some context: While I was thinking about French bread and butter, it seemed the rest of the bikers were preparing for the Tour de France. I hate being last, and I was last every day, but I never gave up. We biked more than 100 kilometers and rowed about 18 kilometers, as well.

Our first day felt like we conquered the French Alps. We stopped at the top of a mountain for a picnic lunch (which, fortunately, included a little wine).

After lunch we biked down to the beautiful town of Tremolat. What a pleasure it was, going downhill for several kilometers. When we arrived in town one of our GPS experts said we made a mistake, and that the hotel was back at the top. I thought it was a joke, but it wasn’t.

Back up we went, and after several twists and turns we found La Métairie. I survived, and more wine and excellent food awaited us. This was a wonderful opportunity to get to know the other bikers in our group. We had wine at the pool and more wine and dinner at the hotel’s quaint restaurant.

We got back on the road the next morning, heading toward Les Eyzies de Tayac.

Each little town was more beautiful than the last. We stopped at a store that only sold fois gras. We bought some to enjoy later with baguettes I found at a little bakery.

We rode for several hours and the group hiked up a steep ravine. My wife and I took a side trip into a charming village that felt straight out of “Beauty and the Beast.” We found a wonderful little restaurant and split a half bottle of delicious red wine, and had one of the best experiences of the trip.

After lunch we rode back to meet the group for a canoe trip. Little did I know that I would row for four and a half hours, non-stop. There was no turning back. Thank God I was paired with Lar. He coached me through the entire trip. (I figured I was safe because Lar is a doctor.)

We were all extremely tired and made it back to our hotel, Les Glycines. We enjoyed the fois gras and bread with two bottles of wine we bought earlier, and our dinner was one of the best I’ve ever had. The wine was amazing too.

The next morning we headed to our hotel in Sarlat, the Plaza Madeleine. The biking was behind us now. I was so happy. Sarlat was a larger town than those on our journey, and we found delicious food and plenty of good wine. On Saturday the main road is closed for a street market. We had such a good time shopping and eating our way through town.

We rented a Peugeot for a trip to Bordeaux, and stopped on the way to see 40,000-year-old cave paintings. My favorites: the amazing painting of bisons.

Haut-Bailly reprise

With so many wineries, it’s rare that we would visit one twice. But a few months before my friend Bob Wilmers passed away he called one Sunday evening to invite Karen and me to come back to Haut Bailly and stay in the Chateau. We were excited to be invited.

After his passing, I received an email from Véronique Sanders, the winemaker, asking if we would still come for a visit. She offered to host our group for a wine tasting and lunch. It was a mind-blowing experience; as always, the wine and lunch from Haut-Bailly was fantastic. When I met world-renowned wine critic Robert Parker, he cited Haut-Bailly as his favorite meal in Bordeaux.

A recent treat

I have written many times about how well Pinot Noir goes with salmon, and a recent night proved it yet again. Cooked with a sous vide, it’s perfect every time. With it we enjoyed a 2007 Williams Selyem Pinot Noir, purchased seven or eight years ago and aged beautifully in my cellar.

Warren T. Colville is publisher and president of The Buffalo News.

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