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Showing posts from August, 2009

Madiran - the best fete des vins ever?

Having spent most of yesterday at a Citroen garage in Aire sur l'Adour waiting to find out how long it would take to replace the gearbox after it seized just outside Termes d'Armagnac, we were probably more receptive to light relief than usual but this was one of the great wine fairs. The reason was plenty of seriously good wines - all Madiran and Pacharenc - mixed in with some great entertainment including a bunjee-trampoline for the kids (and quite a lot of people who should have known better after tasting all those wines) and some fabulous live music. One band consisted of a singer equipped with a megaphone, a guy with a snare drum, another with a tuba and one with a guitar (there was one more - I can't remember what he did and the photo doesn't help much). Their version of Jumping Jack Flash made the Stones look and sound extremely amateurish which, of course, they were. My musical highlight of the year! Lots to do around the village too although this all cost mon

Star gazing in Gaillac

Tonight we are staying in Cordes-sur-Ciel, one of the "100 most beautiful villages in France". It lives up to both this tag and to its name, rising into the sky as of from nowhere. Cordes is about 20 minutes north of Gaillac, itself a very attractive town, and is surrounded by many other stunning sites. We are at a campsite just outside the village and the sky is perfectly clear. The youngest two boys have just gone to sleep but out oldest son has asked to stay up to look at the stars. He could not have chosen a better night for it. In the thirty minutes between 10 and 10.30 we must have seen as many shooting stars. The sky is lit up like a fireworks display. Absolutely incredible. I found out later that this was a rare meteor shower which would have been visible from the UK if the skies were clear (apparently they were not) rather than this being a regular occurance but we did see more shooting stars over the next few nights so we were in the right place at the right time.

Domaine Rotier, Gaillac

Having missed Alain Rotier of Domaine Rotier at Gaillac on Saturday, I was curious to see how his wines would stack up against those I did taste at the fair. The estate has been "in conversion" since the start of the year so will obtain organic status from the start of 2012. This seems to be a common theme amongst the better estates of the region: we came across this at Haut-Monplaisir last week, for example. After a tour of the winery (which as Alain said, is fairly standard except for his use of 400 litre barrels - the standard is 225 litres), we got down to the wines starting with the "entry level" white "Initiales". This is 40% each Mauzac and Loin de l'Oeil with the balance Sauvignon and is one of the most acidic whites I have tasted for a while but it is pitched perfectly for salty seafood. The oak-fermented "Renaissance" white is very different, made from older vines with good Loin de l'Oeil character on the nose (the Sauvignon

31st Fête de Vins, Gaillac

Another day, another wine fair! Better organised than the Cahors wine fair a couple of days ago, each of the estates represented had its own shack. Interesting to see, therefore, which ones were difficult to get to. I had an appointment to see Alain Rotier on Monday morning and thought I should introduce myself. Even on the quieter Saturday there was no chance of this as his stall was constantly packed with visitors – not surprising really given his reputation as the best producer in Gaillac (whilst writing this I am sipping on some of his 2006 “Renaissance” Doux which has 155 grams/litre residual sugar, a simply stunning wine. Better organised for families too: a magic show in the afternoon and various games and rides for when they – and you – need a few minutes out of the fair. The wines? A mixed bag: some really good fruity wines offering superb values and some tannic brutes (lots of Syrah for the top reds mixed in with the local Duras and Braucol grapes) some of which had pot

25th Fête de Vins, Puy l’Eveque (Cahors)

Puy l’Eveque is one of the stunning villages in the Lot Valley, the region which used to be known as Quercy (check out agneau de Quercy , the local lamb, best cooked simply with just a little salt and pepper to appreciate its superb flavour). Each year the village hosts one of the strangest wine fairs I have ever attended (this was my second consecutive visit). Strange because of the way it is arranged: one table for local white, rosé and sweet wines (fair enough) and two for the reds, around 80 wines altogether. The problem is that no estate may enter more than one wine so everyone is putting forward the wine they think will impress the most. Usually this is the blockbuster cuvée of old-vine Malbec with, perhaps, some Merlot to soften the blow (they tend to be very young wines so very tannic, especially once you hit double figures) or some Tannat (usually around 10%) which adds a fragrant cassis character. Bear in mind this is taking place at the start of August, the hottest time of