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A taste of the sweet life

Minervois Harvest Begins with Muscat

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table-grapes-colorsMuscat grapes are being harvested by machine in the Minervois, Languedoc-Roussillon region as I write.

Pressing, by hand, is a favorite method for the local wine-artist as he prefers to use his muscat grapes in a dry version of the tradtionally sweet, apertif bottles.

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 The fresh, very sweet grape juice is pressed into large fiberglass barrels, then the temperature is dropped to slow down the fermentation process to create a mono-cepage white wine that is smooth & dry. Tasting will begin in the next few months - a la tiens!

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Harvest in the Minervois, starting with Vegetables & Fruit

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It's time in the Minervois, in the South of France, for the harvest once again.  The grapes, white and red, have been ripening and are being picked for the table (as well as the bottle)...

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But let's not forget about all the other wonderful vegetables and fruit in the region of the Languedoc-Rousillon that are coming into maturity, the bounty ready to be eaten at any meal or snack-time and the rest preserved for later this year...if it lasts that long!

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The variety of figs is amazing and several are in their second production for a succulent mouthful of sweet goodness; have them for breakfast and sweet snacks right off the tree - but also perfect for jam on those cool winter mornings to be spread on  warm, grainy breads and baguettes with your aromatic coffee warming you up.

 

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And the peaches, simply called "peches de vignes" - vine peaches...have all been falling off the trees they are so ripe.  The jam is a big hit at breakfast already, won't be any left for the winter!

 

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There are a few fresh grean beans left on the vines, with more drying out in the warm sunshine to be used in winter stews and cassoulets; tomatoes are turning red before our eyes and courgettes, albeit late this year, are ready for some great grilled evenings on the bbq.

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Late squash is starting to get bigger with the pattypan looking pretty & white; winter melons and pumpkins will be ready for Halloween and Thanksgiving, no need to worry!

Gruissan Plage in Languedoc-Roussillan

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In the Languedoc-Roussillon we have the luxury of choosing which Mediteranean beach we want to play on.  Not far from Azille, near Narbonne, are a few sunny, sandy coastlines : Narbonne-Plage, Gruissan-Plage, Gruissan-Plage de Chatelets and the drive-on beach where the Kite-surfing takes place.

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If you want to have a more private day out on the beach, choosing the spot you prefer with less sand kicked in your face and not have to lug all your beach supplies in your arms, I would choose the drive-on beach on the other side of Gruissan 'old town'.

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Access is not easy and it takes a bit longer to arrive, but it is all worth the trek out to have a piece of beach to yourself and be able to park the car right at the spot on the beach that you choose, makes the day out a lot less stressful and fun !Gruissan-wading

 

 

 

 

 

We found this view to the South...

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 ...and this one to the North...Gruissan-beach-1

 

 

 

 

We had all afternoon to play in the cool sea with the sun out bright and shiny to warm us on the sand after each plunge !

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Fins are ready...

 

 

 

 

      ...waves are rolling in.

 

 

 

 

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challenging the waves...

 

 

 

 

...the waves have won !

 

 

 

 Whatever your pleasure, the languedoc-Roussillon will offer you many choices of fun in the sun - Enjoy !

 

La Dolce Vita Cuvee, an original Minervois wine

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An original cuvee, made by Domaine La Parra in collaboration with La Dolce Vita.  This new wine is a mono-cepage made with pure, local Mourvedre grapes in a late harvest style producing a semi-sweet red wine.

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After several conversation with Sonia & Celian Parra last year about options to create a cuvee just for me, La Dolce Vita, we came up with a sweet red wine - coming from ideas about something original and not often found in the Minervois or the Languedoc-Roussillon.  However, I had tasted a sweet red many (many) years ago with a chocolate dessert, and I never forgot that tasting moment, so it was !

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A very light red, I decided to chill a bottle to see how it would taste at the level of a summer wine to refresh the palate . . . the results were a success, a nice chilled glass is the perfect wine for a light salad with fruit for lunch, or have a glass with some salty olives during the evening sunset.

 

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Cuvee "La Dolce Vita" is also a great compliment to a very aged, strong cheese.  Also, a glass with fruit and a salty cheese goes down quite nicely.

 

Don't forget to have a sip, or two, with your homemade La Dolce Vita ice cream as well, especially the chocolate sorbet...

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Currently the cuvee is only available here at La Dolce Vita, so come by for a taste and a bottle for your next adventure...a bientot !

Minerve - more than meets the eye

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I know I've talked about Minerve before, a few times if I recall.  But, each time I visit I learn more and I see the ancient village from another perspective and get excited about sharing with you all, yet again.

A photo show is the best way to describe what this Cathar village is like from many angles and you can see how a walking or cycling tour may be the best way to get the most from this amazing site near Azille - in the South of France.

minerve-above-4From the official parking lot above the village - the tower you see is one of the only original parts still standing from the Cathar days.minerve-cathar-tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tower close up arriving in the village from the only entrance during those days - a real refuge and well protected from the likes of Simon de Montfort's crusade.

 

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View from the catapult launch that took out the water supply for the last of the Cathars - the only way Montfort could finish them on his crusade here in the Minervois.

 

 

 

 

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Views from opposite the canyon, an inaccessible road until the bridge in the distance was built about 100 years ago

minerve-from-belowfrom the canyon below, a home poised on the edge of the cliff!

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An old stone footbridge crossing the Brian river, now a beautiful gorge as the rivers runs mostly underground.

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A surpise carving walking along the gorge below the village.

There is more to see as well, caves etched from the rivers that used to flow heavily down the mountainside, and there even art structures on occasion arranged in the canyons see from the bridge along the lower path!  Enjoy your visit to Minerve and we may even cross paths when next I am there!