Let me be really up-front about this… this guy is raving bonkers (well, he is Australian so that should explain it, I suppose!)
He likes wine; nothing wrong with that. And he’s got a Solex. Well, that’s almost a motorbike.
However, in an attempt to answer some questions about the French wine industry he, in a pragmatic Australian way, decided to get to the bottom of the issue…… by riding on his vintage Solex motorbike from Chablis in the north to Sablet in Provence!
On route he planned to talk to winemakers and see if he could “feel” what they are talking about and, in the process, also hoped to discover that the road less travelled does make all the difference and that you don’t have to be a millionaire or a wine geek to enjoy great wines.
As he says…”It shouldn’t be too hard. Most French winemakers are part-time philosophers, and love a yarn. And I plan to meet all types: the conventionals, radicals, artists, peasants and myths.
The trip will take me through Chablis, Burgundy, the Mâconnais area, Beaujolais and the Rhone valley. Names like Vosne-Romanée, Corton, Condrieu, Cotes Rôtieand Chateauneuf du Pape spring to mind.”
But don’t let me spoil it; take a look at Vines on a Solex – a slow trip through France’s vineyards and find out for yourselves.
During the trip he managed to write a book about his travels. It starts in the following manner….
Arriving by car from the wide Rhone valley to the west, you take the long bend (on two wheels if you live down here) and cross the bridge over the Ouveze. Sablet is right in front of you, on its breast, the technically correct term in France for a little fortified hill, a mamelon. Or you can approach Sablet from the south, keeping the long forest and vine-covered ridge from which the breast stands apart to your right. Head up to the nipple and you arrive at Loic and Rebecca’s pizza bar. Come just after nightfall to meet their band of habitués.
I rode my Solex up there one warm night this last spring.
“What’s that?” someone asked.
Loic grinned. “It’s cool.”
They stood in a circle around it. “My Mum had one,” someone said. “Everyone did back then after the War. Black though. This one must be a copy.”
“This,” I said proudly, “is my Solex. It’s original, made in France in 1966. They made a few red ones then. And next month I’m going to ride it down here from Chablis.”
I can’t really improve on that – for once I’m speechless.
All the best