By David Gill
|Jack and Dee Leuscher|
|David Gill and Elizabeth Loos|
|The Dunnery, who dreamed of being on this cruise, so appreciates the willingness of David Gill to share his experience with our readers. His expertise as a connoisseur of fine wine and food is well known to us, as is his skill with a camera and words. A Happy, Healthy and Blessed New Year to you all, Jeff and Suzie at The Dunnery|
Special to The Villager
Imagine a craftsman/winemaker so confident in his work that he is willing to submit it to a side by side comparison with acknowledged leaders in his field.
Such was the case when Sam Pillsbury, and Eric Glomski, Arizona winemakers, were invited to host an AMA Waterways Rhone River wine-themed river cruise in southern France this past November.
Accompanied by their families and about 80 guests who made the week long journey from Arles to Lyon, the winemakers lectured and entertained during shipboard events and on field tours that included historic sites and renowned vineyard tastings.
Sam alone shipped 9 cases of his highly touted Diva, Roan Red, Viognier Private Reserve and Wild Child Red and White wines to France for tastings and pairings with regional cuisine expertly prepared and presented by AMA Waterways’ on board Austrian chef.
Eric shipped another 15 cases of his wines. While all meals were superb, the most memorable was the dinner paired with the Arizona wines.
As the riverboat MS AMADAGIO made its way up river through a series of locks, highlights of the trip included visits to the Cathedral of Images in Arles and the Pont du Gard near Nimes.
The Cathedral of Images features a truly inspirational audio-visual presentation on the uneven contours of the stone walls of an ancient and voluminous quarry.
Almost two acres of walls form the backdrop for projections of some of the world’s greatest Impressionist art (Van Gogh and Gauguin, among others), celebrating the importance of the Provence light to that era’s artists who traveled and worked in the region.
One is humbled by the vast array of colorful images projected by 70 choreographed projectors, 3D surround-sound acoustic presentation of classical music, and the massiveness and history of the quarry galleries.
Pont du Gard, one of France’s greatest archaeological sites, is an ancient Roman aqueduct and technical masterpiece built in the 1st century AD.
The bridge was the principal component in a 50 km long aqueduct that supplied the city of Nîmes with water.
Adjoining the aqueduct’s historic site is an underground museum that conveys how well organized the project was, and the part that water played in the daily life of the ancient Romans.
After seven days of visits to the historic towns and vineyards bordering the Rhone River, we arrived in Lyon, where the Rhone and the Saone Rivers converge. As we toured Lyon on our last day (November 14), we came to realize that we were there on the eve of the 2012 Beaujolais release.
Lyon was abuzz with excitement as the city prepared for its midnight festival, and watering holes displayed their signs announcing the arrival of the new product.
There we enjoyed our favorite tasting experience: the visit to the vineyards of Pascal Gayot, a Beaujolais winemaker, who together with his wife entertained our group with stories of winemaking followed by a tasting of his three wines accompanied by local sausage and cheese.
Sam and Eric both were attentive listeners to Monsieur Gayot’s techniques and methods, always seeking to learn and improve their products.
After seven glorious days of extraordinary meals, excellent wines, cheese tables, vineyard tours, on board entertainment and fine service, we said our goodbyes to the friends we had made, and contemplated the AMA Waterways 2013 Danube River cruise to be hosted again by Sam and Eric.
Village travelers included David Gill and Elizabeth Loos, Bill and Fran Levengood, Jack and Dee Leuscher and AMA Waterways’ own Denise Kelly.