August 15, 2012

A MIDWEEK PUZZLE

night puzzle1

I wonder if anybody knows what this is.

I took its photo after dark.  There were several of them - I counted up to a dozen on consecutive evenings.  They were just below the château walls on Rue des Ramparts and it’s the first time I have noticed them in the village.

 night puzzle2This is not a daytime photo but the same as above taken with the flash switched on.  The thing in the first picture is also in here somewhere.  Can you spot it and what is it ??

August 10, 2012

WINETASTING

Winetasting is something we really enjoy on holiday and we have become much braver about it over the years.

In our early days of touring France we would spend ages selecting a vineyard with a friendly looking shop, pluck up the courage, shyly enter and enquire very humbly if we could possibly have a degustation.  We were nervous of choosing one where the proprietors didn’t speak English and we were terrified of either looking like complete idiots or being taken for a ride.  Mostly the winemakers we inflicted ourselves upon were patient and helpful (although it must be wearing to have to deal with English twits who know next to nothing about wine) and, to the best of our knowledge, we have never been ripped off.  The experience can be quite intimidating.

winetasting 1

Patricia Denis greeted us and showed us the steel storage for wines in the very smart and modern winery at Domaine de la Renaudie.  You can see Bruno breaking off from his work and striding towards us in the background.

Gradually we have learned more about wine and especially the wine we like so we are much more confident when we go wine tasting these days.  Being able to speak more French helps a lot but it helps even more if you take with you a friend who is fluent !!  So it was an absolute joy to visit the vineyard of Patricia and Bruno Denis, Domaine de la Renaudie. at Mareuil-sur-Cher.  Ken made an appointment for us to visit the vineyard in early July and he came along with us.

winetasting 2 Patricia and Ken share a joke as she fills his containers with wine.

Some of the grapes for the Brunos’ wine are grown in the vineyards behind Ken and Walt’s house.  Walt showed us the vines when we took Lulu and Callie for a walk before we set off on our wine tasting trip and I was impressed how large the vineyard was.  Not all the vines belong to Domaine de la Renaudie, of course, but the whole thing stretches far into the distance beyond the house.  Perfect for dogwalking.

winetasting 7 Lulu enjoyed her walk in the vineyard.  Callie was busy exploring and nowhere to be seen at this time.

winetasting 3

Lots of wine in boxes, white, rosé, and various reds.

At the winery you can taste and buy everything sold in the bottles but they also sell a lot of wine in boxes and even fill your own containers using something like the nozzle you find at petrol stations, straight from the steel vats.  The only wooden casks around were used for decoration.

 winetasting 4 The very smart tasting room.

Patricia spent a lot of time with us, allowing us to taste several wines and making suggestions.  She talked for a long time with Ken about how difficult a year it has been so far, the weather being far from helpful since early spring.  The weather was not looking promising for any winemaker at the time we visited.  I don’t know if the slight improvement since then has made a difference – I hope so.

winetasting 5

The stainless steel vats of wine.

It was a most enjoyable and educational visit.  Patricia was charming and helpful and speaks very good English, although we did our best to speak as much as possible in French, letting Ken take the lead.  In those situations we find we can follow what is being said quite well – well enough to understand most of it.  But when it comes to joining in the conversation we come unstuck, the words and phrases are simply not forthcoming quickly enough and we falter and stutter.  At least we are slowly improving – we think !!

winetasting 6

We bought several different wines and are enjoying them at home in the UK right now.  We will definitely be going back for more some day.