There can be few more pleasurable ways to spend a September Saturday afternoon than soaking up the sun and sounds at the Stade Aguilera in Biarritz. Fortified by Pascal & Isabelle Labasse’s Bearnais brunch where we feasted on local specialities of cooked Bayonne Ham, Andouille (spicy tripe sausage) and Piperade (tomatoes & chillies), washed down with increasingly aged and delicious canons of sweet Jurancon Selecion Domaine Bellegarde (the 95 was extraordinary), we zipped back along the A64 from Pau for kick-off.
Biarritz were hosting Toulouse (a re-run of last May’s European Cup Final) and there were some 20 internationals on display, including three Brits – Iain Balshaw and the Lund brothers (Magnus, we decided, would be well cast as the coffin maker in a Sergio Leone Western). To the delight of the home crowd, Biarritz prevailed, so it was on to more eating (of tapas) and drinking (of Irouléguy) at Café Jean in the Vieux Port that evening.
After all, wine buying trips don’t all have to be about Exhibition halls and cold, damp cellars.