Tag Archives: vintage

Les Vendanges – La Rentree

14 Sep
Lilas in the vines
Checking the grapes, the night before school goes back
lilas with a bunch

a bunch ready for the picking

It only seems like yesterday that Lilas broke up from school and started the Summer holidays at the beginning of July.

And then before I knew it, we’d been on the Naked tour, my family had come and gone, the Olympics and Paralympics ended with a bang, the Fetes de Villages had packed up for the year, our Summer friends had all been and gone…

Summer 2012

Summer 2012

…and suddenly the grapes got ripe for the picking! (‘Les Vendanges’):

VENDANGES EN LANGUEDOC, Societe des Cartes Postales APA-POUX, ALBI - 'AS DE COUER'

‘Vendanges en Languedoc’ (AS DE COEUR)

– and the new school year (‘La Rentree’) 2012-2013 started.

la classe

la classe

Come September, a different kind of ambience sets in around here.  The tourists (or most of them!) have left en masse, the weather softens and jumpers come out for nights on the terrace, the markets no longer have ‘bouchons’ (traffic jams):

Carcassonne market

Carcassonne market, August

…the local pools have shut their gates:

– and tanned bodies (just not ours) post ‘les vacances’:

skin!

Lola and Lilas

…get ready for some WORK!

following a tractor during the harvest

You often get stuck behind these people during the harvest!  Time to slow down and have some respect…

Les Vendanges a La Liviniere

‘Les Vendanges’ in La Liviniere

Les Vendanges is one of the most important events on our local calendar (most people in our village own or have some family connection/ investment in grape vines) – and each year, come September, there is the most wonderful buzz in the air.  The village hums with expectation and excitement over the ‘recolte’ (harvest) – it’s time to pick the ‘fruits’ of a long year’s labour.

Lilas and a bunch

check it out

And harvest always coincides with the kiddies going back to school after two months’ of holidays.  I still can’t quite get my head around this school ‘year’ here.  In Australia our school ‘year’ begins around the beginning of the calendar year, in February – after Xmas and at the end of Summer.  Here, each school year ends in what I would call the middle of the year, July, and then recommences in September.  And because of this schoolbooks, labels etc name the school ‘year’ as ‘2000-2001’ etc.  This year for example, is ‘2012-2013’.  I know I’m rambling.  Maybe it’s because I’m from ‘down there’ that I’m confused.

picking an apple for school

Picking an apple for tomorrow’s ‘gouter’ (afternoon snack) on the first day back at school

Anyway, back to the grapes.  The reds are just getting under way, but Benji has been picking for a couple weeks’ now as the whites here ripened earlier.  As for how this year’s harvest will be?  It’s looking good so far – relief!  The weather has been almost perfect for the grapes these last few weeks – a lot of sun and no rain – and so it all needs to come in NOW!

It will be the biggest week yet – 4am starts, working through until 6pm, 7/7.   Another couple of weeks of this, then it’s finished for the pickers and machine harvesters in the vines, but full-steam ahead in the wine cellar – managing the tanks and their juice.  Benji will maintain this crazy routine for a few more weeks yet – until the end of October.  And then it will be time to think about HIS holiday!…

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A lovely old oven

2 Jun
my beautiful FAR oven

my lovely old girl

I shouldn’t go any further before introducing you to this beautiful lady.  She is one of the pride and joy’s of our kitchen and has withstood many a gas bottle change-over (the door on the left conceals the blue butane gas bottle, hooked up by a rubber hose to the elements, which we change over at the hardware store on average every three months).  This ‘cuisiniere’/ stove has had her bottles changed since the 1950’s!

We found her sitting all shiny and alone in an Emmaus (charity shop) many years ago and apart from the crack in her bottom drawer’s handle, has aged so gracefully and remained a very loyal friend in the kitchen.  I love her!

Her name is FAR and I spotted Catherine Deneuve cooking at a single version in an old French film once and got very excited.  And then I came home with this cookbook folder from a ‘vide-grenier’/garage sale the other day, and guess who features on the cover…

the butcher's cookbook folder

The ‘Service Book of the Butcher – 7/7 a recipe!’

I’m not letting her go anywhere!

the grapes are GO on Boulevard Napoleon

15 Oct
the grapes have arrived at the cellar

grapes fresh from the vineyard, lined up waiting to be de-stemmed

Well that’s it for picking this year.  All the grapes are in, busy fermenting, creating heat in the tanks and Benji can breathe a sigh of relief.  We’ve had good amounts of sunshine and wind, no hail, no rot – now it’s time to leave the grapes to do their stuff in the winery and see what sort of juices evolve.

Benji and tractor at la cave (the wine cellar) on Boulevard Napoleon

Benji at ‘la cave’ (the wine cellar) on Boulevard Napoleon

These photos show the last of the grapes from the harvest – the Grenache – coming in.  We hung around for a couple of hours to see the action. It might sound nerdy, just hanging around and watching grapes go into a machine for processing, but really, it was quite exciting!  Really!  There’s something about the odour, the colours, the satisfaction on the faces of the grape growers seeing their fruit finally picked and about to perform their transformation.

As I’ve already said, the harvest is a wonderful time to witness.  And it was just great taking in the blokes’ excitement in the cellar.

ready to unload

ready to unload into the crusher

Yves emptying the grenache grapes into the crusher

Yves emptying grenache grapes into the crusher

Benji and Pierre ready for the first delivery

Benji and Pierre waiting for the grapes to come through from the first delivery

Pierre photographing his fruit

Pierre (le viticulteur) photographing his babies

les filles in the 'sandpit'

les filles keeping busy in the ‘sandpit’

The grapes were carefully emptied from their ‘caisses’ (box/basket) one by one into the de-stemmer/crusher (yes, it does what it says, plucks the berries from their stems and sorts away the leaves)  which then drops the glistening little purple ‘beads’ (they look like jewellery) onto the sorting tray.  They are dropped down into another tray, with a huge turning ‘screw’ and then pumped up through the red hose, straight into the tank.  Some of the grapes were collected into buckets and emptied directly into wine barrels (second-hand, so not full-blown wood influences on the juice).  A small experiment to develop different flavours.

If the wine is as delicious as the berries tasted, everyone will be happy!…

stacked and waiting to go

stacked and waiting to go

coming through

coming through

viniclean

viniclean

the factory line

the factory line

into the tank

up into the tank

Grenache

100% Grenache

first taste of the juice!

first taste of the juice!

Jerome passing by

Jerome passing by

Bleu Blanc Rouge

Bleu Blanc Rouge (thanks Mat!)

cleaning up

cleaning up

Allez, les jolis tracteurs!

15 Sep
getting ready for harvest

getting ready for harvest

They’re off and running!

Everywhere you look in our village there are all sorts of machines and tractors bringing the grapes in.  The weather’s holding up and La Liviniere is in a flurry of activity.

While La Liviniere’s reputation as a quality wine producer is still on the ascent, the region isn’t  new to wine production by any means – the Romans planted vines here over two thousand years ago.   The original name of the village was ‘Cella Vinaria’, indicationg wine in its title, becoming ‘Livineira’ in 1069 and then ‘La Liviniere’ in 1688.

In 1999 the area was awarded as an ‘A.O.C’ title (appellation origine controlee) – A.O.C. Minervois-La Liviniere.   The main varieties of grapes cultivated here are Syrah, Mourvèdre et Grenache (representing about 60%) and you also find wines comprised of Carignan (I love this variety!), Cinsault (Benji’s rose made of this is delicious), Terret, Piquepoul et Aspiran.

Victoire a Bacchus

“Victoire a Bacchus” – I spotted this in the village for the first time only yesterday! A rather timely find…

On ya va!! let’s go…

'la vigne' image alain gree

‘la vigne’ image – alain gree

renault tractor

Renault tractor

dog and his tractor

dog and his tractor

machine harvester

coming home for lunch

tractor in the village 2

break time

not quite your usual load during harvest

not quite grapes in that one…

storming the vllage for grapes!

On my morning walk I had to make way for this harvester.  An impressive sight up close!

tractor la liviniere 3

ready to go in the morning, just opposite Lilas’ school

this one was raring to get out of its cage

This little guy was raring to get out of his cage! I saw him locked up behind some gates looking very sorry for himself while all the others were letting loose.

Massey Ferguson

Massey Ferguson

old blue tractor

now I’ve got to say that this one isn’t in our village, but I love it!

green and red tractor

la liv tracteur

la liv tracteur 2

from Alain Gree's  'La Ferme'; Editions Casterman, 1965 - 'la grande aventure de la vigne' alain gree

Inside Lilas’ book… even the kiddies have stories of the harvest and wine production in their picture books!  Thought this was a good addition to the post!

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