Le Baou d’Enfer – Artisan Wine

We have reached our second week in the vineyard and have now mastered the art of the morning picking.

Steve is a porter and Deb is a picker, team Porter and Picker at your service!

20160920_104131.jpg

The 5 hectare boutique vineyard we are working on is situated in the Mole Valley in the Var region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur in South Eastern France, close to St Tropez and Le Lavendou. Le Baou d’Enfer is a small family business owned and run by Colin Clement who has nearly 2 decades of experience as a grower and producer, although his vineyard is not an AOC he is passionate about delivering a great quality wine to all his customers. He works a very traditional process where the harvest is done manually and all steps are personally overseen by him to ensure the wines are of very high quality.

20161029_203512

You will not see his wines outside of France unless you happen to buy them and take them home and you will often see him selling his wine at markets throughout the region.

So what wine does the vineyard create?

20161029_205230.jpg

Le Baou d’Enfer makes 5 different wines.

20160922_173336 - Copy.jpg

  • Le Baou d’Enfer – La Cachette – Red

La Cachette is the heart of the vintage, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in oak barrels. It has a dry, medium smoked oak taste with an undertone of vanilla, blackcurrant and cherry and compliments red meat, game dishes and strong cheeses.

  •  Le Baou d’Enfer – La Cachette – Rose

Grenache and Cinsault produce a lovely summer wine. With aromas of red berries, strawberry, raspberry and hints of red cherry with a fresh dry mineral taste. Perfect for Summer BBQ’s, grilled foods, fish and white meats.

  • Le Baou d’Enfer – Red 

Lighter than La Cachette, it is a distinctive blend of Syrah and Grenache. Aromas of black cherry and hints of pepper and spices. The taste is dry and rich bodied with silky tannin’s that easily compliments any pork, chicken, lamb or lightly spiced dish.

  • Le Baou d’Enfer – Rose

A light, dry, fresh wine for lunch or aperitif. This is a blend of Cinsault and Grenache with fruit aromas of peach, apricot and nectarine, ideal for a light meal or evening drinks.

  •  Le Baou d’Enfer – White

Ugni blanc grapes handpicked from 30 year old vines help produce a fine, dry, balanced wine. Aromas of citrus fruits, grapefruit and hints of pineapple. Excellent compliment for asparagus, seafood, fish and fresh goats cheese.

The vineyard sells to local restaurants too, this is where we 1st saw the lovely town of Cavalaire-sur-Mer whist helping drop off a delivery. It’s a lovely village with a bit of everything, beach, marina, some lovely looking restaurants and the usual shops and all at reasonable prices for the South of France.

l4

We just happened to be lucky enough of arrive on the day of the jet ski competition. We had never seen so many jet skis race off together from the beach and race around the bay. 1st were the adults and then on to the children’s races, then time for some amazing free style tricks and stunts before we headed back off to the vineyard.

We also need to mention a great evening we had this week, we were invited for aperitifs at the home of a french couple who helped during the picking.

We arrived at a beautiful open-plan house with a gorgeous garden and pool and were met by our hosts with an array of fabulous finger foods and got to sample a typical french drink called Floc de Gascogne, a fortified sweet wine made of 1/3 of armagnac and 2/3 of fresh grape juice both from the wine area Armagnac / Cote de Gascogne, with hints of almond, jasmine, honey, black fruit and rather nice. Then we go on to taste some very special Kirsh that was hand made by our hosts Grandfather that was around 50 years old. Super strong stuff, shame Steve was driving, so just a little taster for him!

The evening was lovely and went so fast and before we know it it’s 22:00 and we really have to go. We felt like teenagers creeping back into our room and trying not to wake anyone from our newly adopted vineyard family.

Only a few more days picking and then we are off to Monaco for a couple of days, super yachts and super cars here we come!

Live Happy

Debs And Steve

edited_1475574746353.jpg

So Here we are, Our Very 1st Workaway.

We’ve arrived!

So here we are, our 1st workaway.

This is where you work in exchange for board, lodging, learning new things and experiencing the local way of life.

Yes, we may be older than the usual gap year kids but midlife gap year people do have a lot to give. We have a lot more wealth of skills and experiences and we seem to have a lot more stamina than the young ones.

We turn up earlier than our estimated time and are greeted by a couple who appear really happy to see us.. Colin and Nicki. Another workaway had also just arrived, he was called Alan from Hamburg, he was staying a couple of weeks to help too. We quickly get settled into our room in a static mobile house situated on the 3 hectare vineyard and before you know it we are drinking wine to celebrate our arrival with another couple of friends of Colin and Nicki’s.

US.jpg

It’s so quiet and peaceful, apart from all of us chatting and laughing, then off to bed as it’s a 07:00 start to start the picking.

Suddenly the alarm goes off and it’s time to start our 1st day. Think you call that a good nights sleep!

vines

Off we go down to meet the team, we find ourselves meeting another workaway called Kelcie, a sommelier from Canada, she is with the owner from a different vineyard up in the mountains who comes to help us. Grape picking is a community affair, everyone mucks in, the guests from last night arrive to help too.

Next day, once we have finished down in our vineyard, it’s off up in the hills in a 4×4 to go and help the vineyard who helped us. The 2nd day turned out to be a long hot one but we were rewarded with beer, wine and a huge lunch.

Deb just had to do it again, she loses her designer prescription glasses somewhere in the vineyard. Luckily she remembers when she could see and when she couldn’t. After a quick look we couldn’t find them. The locals are really kind and mark the line of vines with a stone and we continue the picking as you don’t want the grapes to get too hot. Once we are all finished and before lunch, everyone walks up the vineyard in search of my lunettes, (Deb learns a new French word for glasses) Deb is super lucky and Kelcie gets the biggest hug for finding them.

peeps.jpg

Lesson learnt. When you are picking grapes, don’t wear your best glasses and take your jewellery off! You can’t all be as lucky as Debs was. AND always remember your hat in case you are out in the sun longer than you plan to be…
hat.jpg

At the end of the day Debs and Steve are flagging. Deb ends up in bed fighting off a migraine, too much sun and no hat! Meanwhile, Steve tucks into and over fills his belly with Nicki’s homemade meatballs and pasta to the point that he is going to burst and some of Colins wine from the vineyard.

Debs is much better the next day and up early for the usual coffee and croissant before the pick starts. Sometimes we have some of the customers from the vineyard come to help, amazing that their ages varied so much. Oldest was a lady of 83, men in their 70’s and a lovely couple who were 69¾. So inspirational, they are so fit and healthy and do so much, must be all that good living in the South of France.

20160919_111402.jpg

Each day after the morning pick was complete and the equipment washed down we would all join on the terrace for nibbles and wine. It’s traditional you know! We even got to taste someones homemade Pastis.

Some days a man comes and tests the juice in the back of his car so the vineyard knows the alcohol content and other levels required to make good quality wine.

We could write away forever on what we are learning but time to have a shower and clean up so we can go off and start exploring this area.

In our next installment we will tell you all about the wines produced at the vineyard Le Baou d’Enfer.

Live Happy

Debs and Steve

bye.jpg

 

It’s Been a While… We are Still Alive

It’s been a while since we updated our blog due to the wonders of modern technology.

We have been struggling with the internet and WiFi connections in France and have been unable to upload our blog and photos on a secure connection, so we will send out a few updates in close succession so we catch back up with ourselves.

Troyes.jpg

Although it feels so long ago we were in Troyes it is in fact only 5 weeks ago. We stopped here for lunch and a walk around before our onward journey to Beaujolais.It’s a very nice medieval town with some lovely houses, with narrow, cobbled streets and colourful half-timbered houses, dating from the 16th century.

wine-beau

We turn up at our next stop and have the most amazing view. Our bed and breakfast is in a vineyard owned by a single lady who does an amazing job of running the vineyard, museum and the Auberge Les Hauts de Chénas, whilst also looking after her young daughter, Séléné, who is a very lucky girl who even has a wine named after her!

She produces 5 different wines in total.

  • Chénas – Cuvée Tradition
  • Chénas – Cuvée Prestige
  • Chénas – Cuvée Coccinelle
  • Chénas – Cuvée Séléné
  • Macon Villages Vieilles Vignes

The vineyard had been passed down from her Grandfather and has an amazing museum next to the Cave with many of the items coming from the families past generations, more tastevins than Deb had ever seen and they even had an old Hail Cannon. We had never heard of one of these but now we have and so have you now 😉 It creates a shock wave that is used to disrupt the formation of hailstones in their growing phase and protects the flowers and grapes from damage.

hail

After our one night stop, cheese and bread bedroom picnic and of course not forgetting our wine tasting, off we head to our additional stops due to the harvest being delayed. This means we get to stop off in 2 extra areas to have a look around, Pont-en-Royans and Gordes.

Royan.jpg

Pont-en-Royans is a medieval village from around the sixteenth century and is famous for its colorful houses that sit on the edge of the rocks and is situated in a gorge near to the Parc Naturel Regional du Vercors. There is a water museum and a water bar containing over 900 bottles of water. This was our base for a couple of nights. The hotel we stayed in was in a great location for exploring although we can’t say much more than it was “ok” , as for the water bar, the staff really need to have lessons in customer service. Deb did try her best French but as soon as the staff realised Deb was English, (which was quite soon after she said her 1st words!) The women said “I’m French END OF!” waved her hands and walked off. So this was the end of our water bar experience… Knew there was a reason why we like wine more 🙂 Next day we went on a paddle boat up the Isère river. The scenery is beautiful in this area.

So where were we today?

Postman.jpg

No, we are still in France! A crazy postman from 19th century , Dinand Cheval, he spent thirty-three years of his life building Le Palais ideal in Hauterives, he collected stones whilst on his post round and built an amazing building based on all the postcards he had seen. Definitely worth a visit if you are in the area.

Next day and a few hours later we were at our final stop before the grape picking work away.

Gordes.jpg

This time we found ourselves in Gordes which is listed as one of  “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” (The Most Beautiful Villages in France) we didn’t realise this when we booked as Deb just did a “Google it” of the area we were going through to find a nice place to stay and indeed she did! The B&B was called Au Alenti du Lierre and was lovely, just opposite was a super little local restaurant too called La Fleur De Sel. The hosts were really nice and rarely got people from the UK, we found the same in Pont en Royan. Seems people from the UK really aren’t great explorers. Just happened that in talking to our hosts they once owned a vineyard in Sancerre.

Restu.jpg

Now it’s time to head off to the vineyard to meet our hosts and start our workaway as Vendangeurs ( Grape Pickers)

Speak to you again soon to tell you what it’s like to be a grape picker in the South of France.

Live Happy!

Debs and Steve

happy .jpg