On Friday I arrived in Bordeaux after a 12 hour train journey (with 6 transfers—and everything was on time! European trains are amazing!). I spent one night there to get settled and explore the city a bit before heading out to Chateau Laurelie in the Bergerac AOC (AOC = appellation d’origine contrôlée – the French equivalent of DOQ). I am staying in le pigeonier – the old pigeon house – that has been beautifully renovated. Vignobles Dubard is a large family operation with many different components, so though I will be staying and working in the cellar here at Chateau Laurelie, I spent Saturday and today at Chateau Nardou helping cut grapes (Merlot and Malbec) for the Rosé Cremant de Bordeaux (incidentally the wine that I purchased from Michael at Fremont Wines when he told me about the Dubard family and suggested that I contact them!). These grapes have to be cut by hand in order to meet the requirements for the Cremant classification, but much of the harvest is done here by machine (something that would be impossible in the Priorat!). It is hard work but punctuated with incredible lunches that last for a couple of hours, allowing your back to recover enough to finish out the day. Tomorrow will be my first real day of work in the cellar (as of now I’ve just been observing here and there), so I’m looking forward to that as well!