Sunday, 28 January 2007

The Confrerie of Chinon Winemakers

Sunday in Chinon and the perfect day for a parade. Now the French are good at parading at the best of times but there are none better than the Confrerie des Vignerons i.e. the Brotherhood of Winemakers. In order to qualify you need the following:

1. A Vineyard
2. Some wine
3. A red hat
4. A red cape
5. A carved wooden walking stick
6. The latter generally carved with a wine symbol e.g. some grapes, a bottle or in this instance the winemaker himself.

Take all members of the Conferie, add assorted banners, more capes and much jovial laughter and you have a parade. Heading in the direction of the Salle des Fetes and inevitably a large sunday lunch and plenty of Chinon wine.

Sunday is also the day for the riverside brocantes (antique fairs). Not to be missed especially for those with an eye for a bargain. You can enjoy a leisurely stroll along the river and then pop into the Cafe des Arts for a hand warming hot chocolate.

Back home but not before stopping off at the market in Montsoreau to buy cheeses.

Wednesday, 24 January 2007

The World's First Vine Twig Snowman

This morning and all was calm. The sun was shining, well almost and the day looked good for working outside. It's now 4pm and the garden is under thick snow. Six inches seem to have fallen in a matter of minutes and all hints of spring are now behind us.
Time to build the world's first online vine twig snowman.

Friday, 12 January 2007

No Time to Hibernate

We are often asked what do you do all winter? Well apart from building 21 foot scaffolding and sticking my head through the odd roof we have a well earned rest, go on holiday and visit friends and family in the UK. There is never a dull moment.....

This year following on from the re-roofing of The Gate House we have the guttering project in action. As always loyally assisted by Humble and Willow. 8 metres of zinc guttering and it is fiddlier than it looks - just choosing the right parts at the diy store is a challenge. Well this one is up with another 10 metres to be added to The Vine Room next.

Still with a spritely dog walk at the end of the day and an incredible sunset over the vineyard (it's 6pm in January) life is good....

....and Willow seems to think so too.!

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

A Trip to Angers for Haircuts!

Ok so this does not look like a hairdressers but then Xavier the owner is not your normal hairdresser either. He has entirely restored this old wooden fronted building in Angers and renovated all the detailed wooden carvings at Salon Baert. Xavier is a philosopher and keen fly fisherman too. Keeping a conversation going in French about fly fishing is tricky at the best of times. I won't mention the haricut!?!

With a feeling of Spring in the air in January the beautiful florists shops display daffodil and hyacinth bulbs already.

The Fountain of Communication and Discussion in Angers. I wonder if this is where Xavier gets all his ideas? The city of Angers has a wealth of art and sculpture galleries and is also home to the Apocolypse Tapestry at the magnificent Chateau. You can also visit the Cointreau Museum. The shops are also fantastic. Although with so much to see and do who wants to go shopping?

Monday, 8 January 2007

A Surprise Present from Fronton

Willow alerted me to the arrival of the post this morning with a loud bark and a let me get to the gate urgency. The post lady was standing with a large box on the other side of the gate. A present from our friends Sarah and Angus who took over this vineyard Chateau la Crabiere
in 2004 The rose and red 2005 are from their first production and the wines come from the Fronton area of France a lot further south from here near Toulouse. Salut! Sarah and Angus - we can't wait to try them.

A bottle of Chateau Yvonne

Mmm! We treated ourselves to a bottle of Chateau Yvonne this evening a 2003 Saumur Champigny. So this means it is red and produced with the Cabernet France grape. It was well worth the wait - well I had to open it a few hours before to let it breathe. It was delicious, well rounded with hints of liqorice and ainseed. Yum! I think we will definately be paying a few more visits there this year on our Wine Tour schedule.

Thursday, 4 January 2007

A Little Light Pruning

For those of you who might be interested in the intricacies of viticulture then here are a few photos showing the vines in their pruned state. Here last year's growth has been cut from the vine. The pruners are highly skilled and know exactly what to cut and they can work very quickly using pruners that operate with compressed air - less wrist ache apparently!

After the last year's canes have been pulled out the vines now looked as if they are stripped bare. One cane and one spur is left. The cane that is left will be used to tie down on the fruiting wire and it is here that the buds with appear to produce this years harvest.

The old canes are not wasted they are put in between the rows ready for mulching. For us they also make very good firewood and are great on the BBQ for kindling.

The tractor has been along and mulched all the old canes. All they need to do now is the tying down and after tightening up the wires sit back and wait for bud burst! If only it was all that easy.

Wednesday, 3 January 2007

Flooding in Vertou en-route to Nantes

Stopped off in Vertou (muscadet region) to walk the dogs yesterday on the way to Nantes. You can usually walk across the causeway to the pretty restaurants in the background. The river is in high flood and this was as far as I could get.

Perhaps I'll take the boat.....

Tuesday, 2 January 2007

New Year Drinks at the Tresor Belge

New Years Night 1st January 2007. Last night Marc and Andre invited us for aperitifs at their beautiful restaurant the Tresor Belge in Pouancay. Everyone was there including the Mayor and his wife. The champagne flowed and the canapes were delicious.

Outside and everyone looks skyward for the firework display -wooooh! aaaah! woosh!

Monday, 1 January 2007

Happy New Year 2007 from La Grande Maison

1st January 2007 and the first hint of spring in the air. So mild we even spend the day out in the garden tidying up and cutting down the Christmas tree that we put up outside the house.

Sue and Willow build a new bird feeder out of a wine crate and a bottle!!

A couple more shots of the garden in it's winter coat.
Plenty more cutting back to do.
At least the tower is still standing after the New Year's Eve gales we had last night.