125 Days into our EU Austerity Drinking Tour, we leave Avignon reinvigorated for Lyon (see last Monday’s EUADT post).
Highs and low punctuate the experience. We nearly miss our train because Avignon has not one station, but two. Yet we catch the last bus to the TGV speed train. It flies up the gorgeous Rhône Valley like a whisp of a cloud on the wind.
The vineyards of Cornas and Crozes-Hermitage sprawl everywhere. In little time our train deposits us in Lyon. The city is an urban sprawl. It renders Avignon quaint, parochial. Children beg and grope as we swap to the Metro. However, our Lyon apartment is spacious and the kitchen wonderful. We try to go out. Then it pours.
The Mediterranean’s sun has left us. Cool, continental Beaujolais and Burgundy sit north of Lyon. We can feel the change. To test our unscientific theory, we try the nearest Rhône valley wine under 10 Euros:
Cave de Tain, Syrah, Crozes-Hermitage, France 2009. €8.40
Tain grows its own Syrah in the Rhône’s famed northern region of Crozes-Hermitage.
Appearance: It looks a clear, medium ruby purple. Aromas: Young (in 2012), medium intense aromas of Whisky barrel and vanilla and caramel lead, followed by classic white pepper, and cranberry sauce. Palate: It feels dry, with tell-tale cool-climate medium plus acidity, medium tannins, medium alc 12.5% all of which lead to a medium body. Flavors: Tain tastes of tart cranberry and red apple. Something a bit leafy, salty, and lean emerges…plump, spicy, Chateauneuf du Pape this ain’t. Oak only shows mildly on the medium length finish. Conclusions: So Cave de Tain is good quality (3 of 5), correct to type, lean Syrah: so we’re not in Kansas anymore.
The next day the funicular takes us to another tour through antiquity. We must suffer a helsinki syndrome for Rome, having left the field of archaeology years ago, we still visit every ruined theater, temple, and sewer in striking distance.
Feeling guilty, we skip the museum. However, wandering the Odeon, Theater, and adjacent temples and market stalls (still bearing bright yellow and red fresco) transports us. We jump to the 19th century Notre Dame de Fourvière Basilica. Inside, riotous mosaics trace Lyon’s religious history with psuedo-anthropological yet Hollywood-ian flair.The view doesn’t hurt either…
We then tumble down the hill into old town. A myriad of medieval alleyways intersect and open onto Saint-Jean-Baptiste Cathedral:
It has extremely old blue and red stained glass and a great collection (vestments from Napoleon’s wedding, columns from Constantinople, really old books). But the real treat is Lyon’s Astronomical Clock replete with 1400s automaton:
Tune in Next Monday for the birth of film, bubbly Burgundy, and a orange wine from Jura.