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Friday, June 24, 2005

Dambach-la-ville 

The second stop on my weekend excursions around the province was Dambach-la-ville, only one stop up on the one-car train pod from Selestat. Dambach has no historical importance that I know of; it has been a major producer of regional wines for centuries.

If there were a town that I could show you pictures of right now, it would be Dambach. It shows almost no signs of modern construction. Hugging the Vosges Mountains, the town is surrounded by fields of vines. Much of the medieval wall still stands, as do the three portals. The timbered houses, mostly in good repair, are painted red; underneath all the windows are boxes that overflow with flowers. Every bit of exposed ground has flowers. The streets are narrow. I could not walk more than a few feet without encountering another wine maker's cellar. And although it is arrestingly beautiful, I felt that I had the town to myself. I walked more than fifteen minutes from the train station to the center of town without seeing another pedestrian. I never saw more than ten people at one time. Clearly tourists have not discovered this mecca of wine and blooms.

I was also disconcerted not seeing anyone. Nothing was open, save for a restaurant in the center of town. I hiked out the other side, through the northern portal, which led up to the Chapelle Saint Sebastien among the vine covered hills. A small Romanesque edifice, it had an intricate wood alter. I believe that the chapelle is not in use; it needs restoration.

A path leads up farther into the hills. I started to hike the path. but the day was too hot to get far (this was the first day of the oppressive heat that continues today).

Back in the town, I did what I anticipated -- I tried some wine. I went to three cellars and tried three or four vintages at each. They were what I expected: fruity Rieslings and sweeter Gewurtztraminers. I also tried Cremant for the first time: Alsatian grapes put through the Champagne process.

I stopped at three. Why? I bought three bottles, and they already weighed me down. Plus I was anxious to see another town. If I had kept going I would have died. However, I would have died in heaven.

Next stop, Disneyland Obernai.
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