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A taste of the sweet life

Winter Motorcycle Rally - Minervois

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It's that time of year again in the Minervois, Languedoc-Roussillon - it is winter and the local motorcycle club, Les Picrates (meaning a bad quality red wine, almost vinegar), host their annual rally in Azille.  At the end of February, not for the week of heart, only the hard-core, real 'bikers' will dare to come...sometimes they line their bikes up in the snow and cold, arriving from as far as 2-300 kilometers away for a weekend of fun!

line-of-bikesUpon arrival, you will register, pick up drink/meal tickets & the 2015 Picrate pin (to add to your collection, of course) - setting up your tent should be next on the agenda and then the evening begins with drinks at the bar, surely to warm you up after the long ride.  Dinner follows and live rock-n-roll ends the very late night.

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Wake up (or not) to a warm breakfast giving you the courage to get on your bike to take a tour, set up in advance by the Picrates.  An apertif with oysters & drinks offered to everyone, then trophies are passed out for the oldest, youngest, furtherest traveled bikers (among several other) all precede lunch (also included in your entry fee), then 'back on the road again", as Willie Nelson sings!

Put it on your calendar for the 28th of February and contact me for the registration details

Happy Riding!

 

Happy New Year 2015

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Happy New Year !

to all our friends, family & past, present and future guests.
From the two of us her in Azille, Minervois, South-of-France

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Best wishes for the new year and we hope to see you all in 2015!!!!!

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CANAL DU MIDI at sunset - photo provided by Alexis

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Wine in the Minervois - Massiac wines

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massiac-summer-cottageRemember last week, when I introduced Chateau Massiac and its passionate & creative owner, Bernard Boudouresques?

Well, there is so much more to say about him and his wines.

With approximately 20 hectares of vineyards, Bernard has chosen to plant the Azille side with his AOC vines due to the location, and the Rieux-Minervois side is IGP (pays d’oc) where he is able to plant more of what he prefers…

 

Bernard produces only a few different bottles, so he concentrates on the quality of the vines and their fruit.

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Massiac’s whites are expressed with single varietals sauvignon-blanc & viognier.

Her reds are created with Marselin (a crossbreed of Grenache & Cabernet where the flowers inter-marry giving a great structure for this climate), Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre.

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The younger vines are irrigated when water fall doesn’t get above 250mm per year, but when it hits 450mm all is good at the domaine.  Bernard's Grenache vines are still quite young…but all the vines produce well at about 4,500-5,000 hecta-liters each year.   Bernard is respectful of organic production, however, he also wants to produce great wines, so he is thoughtful of chemicals used, and experiments with keeping the vines healthy using different herbs/grasses planted between the vines to see what works the best as a natural herbicide & pesticide.

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Enter into the cave & the wine-making process. Bernard has an older style cement barrel system for his reds. Each being numbered according to the hectoliters it holds, so that each vineyard can be vinified on it’s own and separate to be blended afterwards. The white is vinified in low metal tanks, making it easier to blend the ‘lys’ back into the fermenting wine.

Bernard exports up to 24,000 bottles, leaving us with only a few bottles to savour, but worth the sip! As the fermented wine will remain in the cuves for slightly over a year before being bottled in spring, we are offered 2012 bottles to taste.

massiac-viognier-glassThe Viognier is a pale yellow in color with specks of gold, and at 14.8% the high alcohol content gives it a slight sweetness. With a green edge the cooked apricot & peach fruit taste comes through making it a good match to buttery dishes, creamy cheeses & seafood – 8€ a bottle purchased directly from Bernard himself.

Massiac's Sauvignon-Blanc is clean, clear & light in color at 13.5% alcohol.  Bernard's Sauvignon is similar to a Bourdeaux Sauvignon-Blanc, and with low acidity is just enough to provide a crispness to this floral white wine. A great fruit palate tasting peaches, apples & a subtle tang of passion fruit makes a great match to asian cuisine and very ripe chèvre or camembert cheese - also 8€ a bottle at the domaine.

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The AOC Minervois is a deep ruby in color with 14% alcohol. Bernard’s blend on this year’s Minervois, is 80% Syrah 15% Carignan & 5% Mourvedre. A robust red with flavors of very ripe cassis, pepper & spice, with supple & ripe tannins pares well with tapenade & many local, Mediterranean dishes.

Bernard’s Sentinelle is an ‘export-only’ unfortunately, so no tasting available this year. And with passion he plays around with a late, naturally sweetened white he calls “Ambre” for aperitif & desserts as well.

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Wine in the Minervois - Chateau Massiac

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Here in the Minervois, we could talk about wines for years and still not touch upon them all, nor taste everything out there without falling down drunk (even if you spit) !

However, I can talk about what I know and what I've learned about those in my large neigborhood. So stay close and come visit our regional Chateaux with myself and Wendy Gedney on our local tours.massiac-vines-rainbow-domain

Close to home, literally, is Chateau Massiac. Between Azille & Rieux-Minervois – from bell tower to bell tower as Bernard Boudouresque explains it to me in his local French accent - are the limits of Domaine de Massiac sitting upon a ancient Mediterranean hill. Bernard purchased the Chateau in 1988, which was abandoned in spirit as the previous owner had all but forgotten the domaine and let it all go downhill…the vines, the basin, the equipment, the animals all in ruins.

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Over the last 25 years with Bernard's love & passion for the domaine, its earth & its fruit, he has turned vines into fertile, well-producing plants and is bottling the wine production rather than sselling loose production wine to large, local wineries.

He has come to understand the soil and all it’s properties using nature to his advantage. Bernard-Boudouresques

 

The soil is full of grés, a clay-limestone, which when the vines’ roots hit they spread outwards instead of growing deeper. This creates many challenges for a typical vineyard, at the same time there are also many advantages. The grés in Massiac’s land is not as hard as some and allows the soil to drain well, avoiding too much water around the roots. On the other hand, the vines are not as stable with the strong winds we have in the area, so they must be cut in a non-traditional fashion so that tying them to the wires allows the wind to flow easily through the rows, not taking them out of the ground.massiac-hand-gobalet-vines

 

 

 

The traditional goblet style of the vine has been turned into a 7 fingered open-hand with Bernard’s creative touch.

The hill where the grapes grow is also an advantage as the wind flows easily through the vines to keep them from becoming humid & the sun warms them during the day producing tastier and more aromatic grapes.

 

Next week I'll explain Bernard & Massiac's wine and vinification process with tastings detailed out to entice you to explore the domaine yourself - TO BE CONTINUED...a bientot!

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Autumn in the Languedoc-Rousillon

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As the fog slithers in amongst the houses & just below the rooftops in our village of Azille, on an occasional autumn morning in the Languedoc-Roussillon, we know that winter is on the way.

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But before we resign ourselves to heavy sweaters and wool coats, there is still a season to be appreciated here in the South-of-France; turning leaves in the vineyards, Mediterranean waves washing onto the shop-lined beaches,

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and the freshest of seafood right out of the nearby salt waters tasting ohhhh sooo sweet...

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...plus the "orsins de mer" (sea urchins) and just look at the mountain of leftover oyster shells !

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Finishing an amazing lunch with an ever-popluar, cafe gourmand and a walk along the beach...ahhhhh Autumn!

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