Pageviews last month

Thursday 18 January 2024

A new year with wine - a post for everyone, not just wine buffs!

Solutré, near Macon

Some of my friends are not really interested in wine and tend to skip these blog posts.  So before you  do that this time I will just add a note about the fascination for me apart from the stuff in the bottle or glass.  As you  can see from the photos, scenery is one of the many attractions.



 Wine exploration has shaped our visits to France ever since we started regular trips here 30 years ago.  If you look at the map of France, relatively small physical areas are taken up by vineyards, and you are much more likely to find yourself in logging forests or endless of cereals and grass, like the open horizons and rolling slopes of the northern plain we drove through on our way to England at the end of last year.


But we hunt out the vineyards not just for nice wine but for the interesting people and scenery we discover, get to know and love.  I think of the beautiful villages just near us in Lunel or north of Montpellier around the Pic Saint Loup; or of the vineyards of the Entre Deux Mers area south of Bordeaux - the two 'seas' here are the rivers Garonne and Dordogne as the flow northwards to join together as the Gironde at Bordeaux; or of the cossetted iconic hilly  country of Beaujolais and the Côte d'Or in Burgundy and the breathtaking rocky beauty of the Rhône valley, whether near the great river at Condrieu and Crozes Hermitage just south of Lyon or, one of our favourite places, Beaumes de Venise tucked under the Dentelles de Montmirail, once best known for its fortified sweet muscat wines but now among the best red wine labels.


While I always liked wine, it was meeting people who were and are involved in making it that has captured our  attention.  Jean-Michel and Christine Jacob have just retired from their Hauts Côtes de Beaune vineyard and J-M will doubtless now have more time for his beautiful  art/sculpture, two pieces of which adorn our hallway.  Jean-Philippe Servières, our best local winemaker near Lunel, would probably like to retire, having had precious little chance of a holiday over the past 20 years; and Benoit Viot of the wonderfully-named Chemin des Rêves north of Montpellier has gone from small beginnings - we bought our first wines sitting in the kitchen in Grabels - to becoming president of the prestigious appellation Pic Saint Loup.  


We have got to know many other landscapes in the Languedoc, Rhône valley, the Diois (where twinning opened our interest in the Rhône Valley and beyond), or the wide variety of landscapes we have explored across the south - the wild hillls of the Corbières, coastal étangs around the Mediterranean where Picpoul de Pinet is produced, or tiny appellations with unusual grapes like Fronton north of Toulouse.  We discovered Seyssel in the far north of the Rhone valley towards Geneva thanks to musician friend and mentor Stéphane Fauth (and his wife Chantal whose cooking helped to 'oil' the many music courses we  shared).  And we have started to discover the Loire Valley, one of the longest river courses in France which always confused me because the river flows north a long way, just a short distance from the south-flowing Saone and Rhône, before turning left and west at Orleans towards the Atlantic; we got to know various bits of the river - Sancerre, the Touraine, a stretch towards Angers, on various drives south from different channel ports and thanks to good friends Sue and Ian who have a house south of Tours.


No comments:

Post a Comment