The Premier Nose

Today was all about wine.

Vin en Vacances is the name of the company that we went on THE. BEST. WINE. TOUR. ever!  I’ve popped the link to their website right up the front because I want anybody coming to this region of France to use them…. and especially to ask for:

Kate Wardell

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Kate, our guide extraordinaire is actually English, but has lived all over the world and has now settled in her favourite region of France – the Languedoc-Roussillon.  It has great wine and food; it’s close to the skiing magic of Andorra; it’s not too far from either coast for a bit of seaside action;  It’s close to Spain, and who doesn’t want to be close to Spain?

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The best thing about Kate was that she didn’t try to baffle us with wanky wine jargon.  She read the vibe of our group perfectly and simply joined in.  We learned things about wine and the wine industry that we’d never heard of before and Kate made it all make sense using analogies  such as:

“Bottling a single grape wine is like cooking a chicken without any herbs or spices – it’s still a wine, but it won’t be as tasty as a chook smothered in salt and thyme!”

or

“Growing Sauvignon and pinot in the south of France is like leaving a redheaded person out in the desert.”

It just all made sense, plus Kate is quite hilarious which made the trip all the more enjoyable.

The first winery she took us to was a local place called Chateau de Rieux

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During the summer the winemaker, Emmanual sets up these barrel tables and invites the locals down for food and wine on a Friday night.

Just a little snippet of information here…. see the slope on the left hand side of the building?  That is built like that on purpose, because when the grapes are picked, the truck drives up that side to drop the grapes into large vats on the inside, and by dropping them from a great height, the grapes smash into each other, taking away the need to squish them which gives the wine a different texture/flavour.  I’m not sure I’ve explained that very well – but that’s about the gist of it.

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Here is Jason speaking his best French with the wine maker, Emmanuel (Kate only had to do a little bit of interpreting)

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These are the old barrels that were used in the old days, but they found that it was very difficult to regulate the temperature for the fermentation….. if it got too cold, they would light a fire underneath the barrel, effectively cooking the wine.

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Now they use these fibreglass vats

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We learned that only a special vintage, where all of the wine gods – the god of rain and the god of good soil come together with the god of just the right amount of sun and said, “Let’s give them a good year” will go into these oak barrels, cause they’re quite pricey to purchase and they will only last about 2-3 barrellings (I reckon that’s a word)

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Then after all the hard learning – it was time to taste.

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Kate didn’t let us off completely though – there was more learning to be had whilst tasting.

You look at the colour, checking for the lightness or darkness of the meniscus – a telling sign if the wine is going to taste of red fruit and berries or darker fruits and cherries.

You take in the premier nose – the first sniff.

You have a think about what you can sense.

You swirl your glass around, aerating the wine, then you take your deuxième nez – the second nose and go crazy over how the aromas have changed since the premier nez.

Then you taste.

You take a full swig letting the wine fill your entire mouth, covering all the senses on the tongue.

If your saliva glands are activated, this means that this is a good wine to have with food.

So much tasting and learning was rewarded with a picnic lunch….

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Catered by the lovely Petra who spoilt us with a homemade 4 course extravaganza

Check out Petra’s website here

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We had homemade pate/terrine; pork with a beautiful coleslaw, baguette (of course) and then a homemade pannacottary style dessert in a jar.  Plus, more wine – It was divine!

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After our luncheon, Kate took us to our second winery – Chateau Coupe Roses in Minervois where we tasted some more amazing wines.

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  This is Carolina, who was a great sport and cracked out all the big guns for our tasting.  There was one particular wine from a perfect wine growing year that we loved and luckily they had 3 magnums left….. which we relieved them of.

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Kate was so awesome that we insisted that she join us for dinner later in the week, which she did!

We love Kate 💕

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