After a delicious lunch we head off again, this time I ensure I don't miss our disembarkation. We’re heading for our first wine tasting session, at the delightful Château de Rully between Mercurey and Chalon-sur-Saône. The house has been in the same family since the 12th century, the family name has changed with cessation through the female line and we were lucky to have our guided tour by the very personable Comte Raoul de Ternay. As he comes over to greet us the foreboding clouds are blackening over his imposing castle.
We duck inside just before the heavens open and we get introduced to his ancestors via their portraits plus he tells us stories and his interpretation of some of the earlier ones. There’s a beautiful wooden staircase that the Comte assures us doesn't creak as he used to be able to sneak back into the castle without waking anyone when he was a boy. We see the delicate, ornate furniture and original mirrors in one of the salons they rarely use because of the fragility. The oldest mirror is in six pieces as these were the largest size mirror could be manufactured in the 17th century, the latter, when technologies had improved in the next century, was made in two pieces.
I loved the tale of his great grandfather falling into the dry ditch that was formerly the moat, so he filled it in. And his ancestor Marie Ferdinande Agathonge de Vaudrey who was born in 1740, and married when she was only 16. She was widowed at 32 with 15 children to look after. During the French Revolution she was imprisoned as an aristocrat but the local people were fond of her, stormed the jail demanding her liberation. Eventually the authorities cave into the protestations and her release was probably one of the most instrumental factors in keeping the château in the family.
Surrounded by these verdant vineyards, unsurprisingly wine is very important the family, in the dining room we are shown a special enormous wine glass that could accommodate an entire bottle that another ancestor would always carry on his travels. In the corner of the room we espy a curious Italian nativity scene with slightly sinister looking cherubs brought back from travels.
Our final room is the fabulous kitchen with walls hung with copper pans, bowls and moulds and dominated with an enormous fireplace. The Comte demonstrates a substantial spit roast and explains the etymology of the word “barbecue”, it sounds plausible though I thought the origination was Caribbean, there’s no doubt, however, you could whip up a substantial meat feast here.
The rainstorm has brought down the temperature a little but we were still grateful to descend into the cave for the wine tasting part of our visit. It was a fascinating château, family home and vineyard, oh and some delicious wine.