The Languedoc Tinkerbelles

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TinkerbellI first came across the label ‘Tinkerbelle’ when visiting a winery in Provence last summer. It’s a term that’s occasionally being used in France for female winemakers. To begin with I was not sure it was complimentary but in fact I’ve discovered that it is intended to be. Tinkerbelles are sprinkling their fairy dust around the vineyards and wineries all over Languedoc and producing some top class wines in what used to be a very male dominated profession.

I work with a lot of female winemakers and although none of them would like to be known by this appellation alone. They are proud to be winemakers and proud to be women. Take Nicole Bojanowski of Clos du Gravillas who has been producing top class wines for over 14 years from magical terroir. This ‘Tink’ is no common fairy, she works with great thoughtfulness and care producing wines with style and charm. Bridgette Chevalier of Domaine de Cébène in the Faugères appellation is living up to the Tinkerbell name by producing mystical wines that I am sure will become legendary and Katie Jones of Domaine Katie JonesJones who has been making wine for a few years now has also received great acclaim. However hers’ is no fairy tale, she has had to battle against people in her community who are afraid of the change she and her like are bringing to wine making.

Millésime Bio

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Millesime BioThe Vin en Vacances team is growing, we now number 6 wine crazy people and last weekend 4 of us headed for Montpellier and the organic wine show Millesime Bio. To make sure of an early start we decided to stay the previous night so where could a team of food & wine nuts head for dinner?

Kate had the answer and I’ll let her tell the story…

Castelmaure – no Ordinary Co-Operative!

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1409_Castelmaure Co-operative_083People who know me and my taste in wine know that I am not a big fan of co-operative wineries, although I respect their reasons for existing and accept they are currently part of the Languedoc wine scene. My preference is for small to medium sized producers who deeply respect the terroir they farm and make wines with great care and passion. OK you have to pay more for this type of wine but that’s just part of accepting a quality product. Wine consumption has changed enormously over the last 25 years and for many consumers, wine has entered their lives as a beverage and for others it has remained or has become a deeply interesting subject as well as a liquid to taste, discuss, compare and in some cases fall in love with..! I fall into the latter category and so it was a great surprise to my friends when I suggested a trip into the Corbières to visit a co-operative winery.

Grenache Day September 19th

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In some parts of the world Grenache is not a deeply appreciated grape variety but this is not true in Languedoc-Roussillon or the Rhône, Provence and of course the country where it hails from, Spain where it’s known as Garnacha. Luckily many people around the world are keen fans of this succulent grape and for the past few years it has been celebrated annually with ‘Grenache Day’ which this year is Friday 19th September.

Cassoulet & Carignan

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CassouletA steaming bowl of Cassoulet is brought to our table by Bridget who made it in her bijou restaurant that was once the school in this tiny Languedoc village. We are sitting in the old school room that still has the blackboard but instead of the lesson it displays todays menu. But we take no heed of that for as usual I have ordered Bridget’s delicious Cassoulet for my clients who have signed up for the Saint-Chinian & Minerve vineyard tour. The comforting white bean stew cooked in a garlicky sauce comes in a terracotta Cassoulet and hidden inside is the preserved duck, duck confit as it’s called here. Dotted around are succulent sausages and sprinkled on top are the breadcrumbs baked to a delicious crunch. Its rich and hearty peasant food and its like has fed the people of the Languedoc for centuries and today my customers are tucking in with gusto.