Monday, November 23, 2009

Wine glorous wine

Haven't blogged for ages, no excuse apart from I have been busy and sometimes as my blogger extraordinaire bro-in-law Gaz says, you just aren't in the mood. So, the rule is, only do it when you are feeling funny and/or have a bit of news, otherwise it is boring for EVERYONE, me included. Here's me and Issy after lunch in Villefranche today...we went to Le Cosmo on the harbour with Iain, truly amazing pacific rim cuisine as well as traditional French, fantastic service and hot sunshine in late November (the only bit I can't guarantee.)

Last week I did an interview for The French Paper with Stephen Williams. I realise this doesn't sound that scintillating but stay with me. What Stephen doesn't know about wine, one of my all-time favourite subjects, frankly isn't worth knowing. I think the email from Rachel, the associate editor, asking if I would be interested in meeting one of the world's leading authorities on vintage wine at the Grand-Hotel in St Jean Cap Ferrat, is possibly one of the most inviting I have ever received. (Okay, apart from the Bora Bora job, and meeting Nelson Mandela in Cape Town. And Rio....will stop now.)
The hotel is amazing in every sense. Superb attentive service (I was the only guest but let's not split hairs,) a fabulously decadent facelift which preserves the character of the hotel while giving it a very clean-lines effect and staff that enjoy their jobs and are proud to be in the service industry, which is becoming way too much of a rarity. The general manager Michel Galopin was charming and utterly understated. Stephen arrived with his lovely PR Julie and we toured the Salon des Collections, where some of the world's most valuable wines are stored. There is around £2m worth of wine in this cosy little private dining room, including the world's most expensive white, Chateau d'Yquem, dating back to 1797.

We sat down to chat and the waiter brought over a bottle of 2002 Chateau d'Yquem, a delicious Sauternes that retails at a cool €820 a bottle. I had a personal masterclass in wine tasting from Stephen on everything from smelling it to swilling it around in the glass to finally sipping it. It was glorious. If only every interview was this civilised. Later I stood up a bit too quickly (nothing to do with the wine, reader) and cut my knee on the table, at which point the waiter appeared with yet another glass, purely for medicinal purposes, while his colleague produced a swab and plaster. Now that really is service.

Started yoga two weeks ago with Faye, who is a yoga teacher, funnily enough, and lovely Fiona. We do it at my house after the school run and I wasn't sure how I would find it, although with all the running and tennis I really need something that is a bit more flexible and relaxing in my life. Fi is an old hand while I am completely new to it but the 90 minute session flies by, with me usually falling asleep during the 'relaxation' bit at the end and then feeling spaced out for the rest of the morning. Lovely and competely legal.

Have been watching the floods in the Lake District, which makes the weather here seem all the more bizarre. This time last year, the first falls of snow were covering the Alpes Maritimes and our local resort Greolieres had its best season for 25 years. This year, no snow to speak of yet but 21 degrees and hot sunshine every day. We swam on the beach last Wednesday and will probably do the same this week, it is totally mad and while I'm desperate to see snow, really cannot find it in my heart to complain about still being able to put on a bikini in late November. I seem to remember this is why I left Hertfordshire.

We went to the remembrance day service at Bar sur Loup cemetary on November 11th. It's a bank holiday here - I cannot understand why it isn't in the UK - and the girls know that we (ergo they) have to go. This year, even Lily came too, and given that she and Liv would far rather be at Cap 3000 or in Cannes shopping, chatting to boys and eating at Subway, I was quite impressed. Even more so when everyone sang La Marseillaise and Issy quietly joined in word perfect.

Finally (this is my funny bit) Issy came home today to say that her class had been given the 'period talk' at school. She was horrified (but not as horrified as when I said I would put it in my blog.) With a 14 yo sister, clearly she knows most of it already, and said as soon as it started, the boys were giggling, everyone was blushing and no-one knew where to look. By the time the teacher moved onto pubic hair, the entire class was in a state of shock horror. I would so have loved to be a fly on the wall. After she finished telling me, I said, well if there's any more you need to know, ask away. Cue a very withering look and deafening silence.