A little bit of Italy in the South of France
So it seems that there is a fair bit of Sangiovese being planted in Italy. I wonder how this will turn out. I have had a few non-Italian sangioveses over the years, including Australian and Californian (Cal-It) wines, but probably the best one I have tried is the Sangiovese from Errazuriz in Chile. Definitely on the chunkier side of sangiovese though.
Errazuriz Single Vineyard Sangiovese, Don Maximiano Estate, Aconcagua Valley, Red, Chile http://bit.ly/l78Wkm
Dominic, The Fareham Wine Cellar.
Amplify’d from www.decanter.com
See this Amp at http://bit.ly/mrJSLh
Orange Alert In The Department Of Herault ! http://newish.info/167452-orange-alert-in-the-department-of-herault
WWOOF#1: Valleraugue, Languedoc Roussillon | 14-22 July 201
And so begins my summer in southern France! My WWOOFing adventure starts in Valleraugue, a small hamlet in the Cevennes mountains in the south of France. Landing in Lyon by plane, I took the train down to Nimes (40 euros), a pleasant ride past the rolling hills and farms, sort of what you’d imagine France to be. From Nimes, a bus that took me along the river Herault that runs through the valley. Then, my host picked me up and we drove the rest of the winding road to arrive at Valleraugue: a quaint 16th century village and home to the organic garden of Katharine and Patrick.
A village of mostly small agriculteurs, Valleraugue has only 1 boucherie (butcher) though two boulangeries (bakeries). An almost sleepy town throughout most of the year, Valleraugue bursts in vivacity in the summer with what my host calls “the summer people,” vacationers coming to the south for the sun. And who wouldn’t? The quiet charm of a hamlet by the river, surrounded by the woods.. it was almost straight out of a picture book.
Valleraugue consists of a strip of small artisan shops on the main road that goes to le Vigan (the closest medium-sized town). Then you’d cross over the bridge to find the church, the mayor’s office, and then a cluster of homes along a network of alleys. My home for the week was a bit further out of the village by a paved path, just big enough for one car, that slopes up slightly as one moves away from town. Then, at the end of a narrow gravelly driveway lined with wild blackberries we find the house, perched by a small brook at the foot of the mountain range: an old silk farm of four floors, and now home to a retired couple and their vegetable garden.
Katharine and Patrick spend their summers and part of autumns in the village, away from Parisian life. Patrick listens to classical music and reads Le Monde in a recliner under the tree. Katharine takes care of the garden: some roses and herbs, but also salads, potatoes, leeks, aubergines, strawberries, and sweet onions (a regional specialty). My job was to weed and water: we worked in the mornings from breakfast to lunch, then I’d have my afternoons free. I slept in a cozy room on the top floor.
How I love the country life! Breakfasts were an elaborate affair of orange juice and coffee and sugar and bread with honey and butter, quite a change from my habitual grab-a-bagel-and-coffee-to-go. We ate our lunches on the patio, under the shade of a great lime tree. We’d talk about World War II over wine and cheese, and sometimes they’d have people over for tea. In hot afternoons we’d swim in their pool, in chilly afternoons we’d read - they gave me to read an English manuscript of a French short roman, Nine Young Women Who Did Not Want to Die. At night we went out - a jazz concert in le Vigan - or stayed in - a movie (we wanted to watch Baisers volésbut the DVD didn’t work so we watched Another Country instead, a story which Katharine remembers from her Cambridge days).
Of course, in the Cevennes, a National Park and a heritage site, I also attempted some exploring. We went on short hikes along some trails, which Katharine knew by heart, and on an especially sunny afternoon, I biked along the river to see more of the valley. We also went to some surrounding villages, like Ganges and le Vigan. But I think I liked most Valleraugue itself: the way everyone smiles and says bonjour, and, probably my favourite part, the weekly market where our neighbour sells her homemade gauffres (sugar waffles).
As WWOOFing goes, I did work. By the end of the week I had cleared their driveway of obtrusive blackberry branches and cleared the garden of (most of) the weed. We dedicated an entire day to attack a field of mimosas that was beginning to encroach on the beds. But alas it was time to leave for my next farm as my journey around the south of France continued. I drove to Nimes with a friend of Katharine and Patrick’s, back along the winding road, and left the wooden shutters and blossoming geraniums behind.