Monday, 1 September 2008

The village fete

While we were in the tourist information office in Miramont we picked up a leaflet advertising a summer fair at a nearby vineyard. We were looking for something to do the following day and so decided to cycle out to it. The leaflet was in French and English but I must admit the whole thing did have somewhat of an English feel to it. The entrance fee went to support a charity and stalls selling local produce were promised.

The following day was warm so we set off on the bikes in the morning and got to the vineyard at about 2.00pm. Things were just beginning to take off.. We started with a long conversation with the man selling tickets. He had been a keen cyclist and had organised bike races and events in his home town in Lancashire for most of his life. He had also driven the press car for the Tour de France and had once picked up some cyclists from the airport only to realise he had 5 Tour de France winners in the back of his car! After a pleasurable conversation we parted with our 4 Euros and went in. The farmyard was set out with various stalls with arts and crafts, second hand products, books, paintings, tombola, 'fish the grapes out of the bucket' game, and a food and drinks stall selling quiches, salads, ice cream etc. We got a plate of salad and sat at the tables set out in between the vines to eat (and overheard the resident English contingent discussing how busy they were what with the line dancing classes and art class there was just no time for them to go to their French lessons!). After eating we wandered round the stalls. There was a young English chap there who had set up one of the first free-range pig farms in the Dordogne, raising English pigs and selling English sausages made to a recipe he got from the Heston Blumenthal book (Two shelias take note!). He had a whole pig roasting on the spit for an evening hog roast and was selling sausages and home made pork pies and had already been written about in the French Press, as the English farmer showing the French how to develop the free-range market! Unfortunately as we had our bikes with us we couldn't really try the wine but were offered a proper tour on another day. We cycled off with thoughts of strawberries and cream and Morris dancers floating around our heads!

The following day it was raining and I wanted to buy some wine so we decided to take up the offer of a tour and drove over in the van! I expected a half hour tour and a quick tasting, but no.. we got the full 2 hour tour and explanation of the history of the vineyard (bought by an enthusiastic English IT consultant who invested in setting up his own wine making shop and was now forced to work back in the UK to pay for the investment). The vineyard was going organic and the enthusiasm and commitment from everyone was apparent in every detail. The cuves were spotlessly clean and our guide (the owners father, a former chemist) knew exactly what was in each barrel and at what stage it was at. We then got to taste all the wines. I am no expert but I have to say that they really were well worth what they were selling them for. They are not filtered, use no chemicals in the processing and are made with love and enthusiasm from an Englishman the in the wine growing centre of Duras! I bought quite a bit and I must say I can recommend them as they are available via their online store at not much more than we paid for them in France.

You can find out about them here!

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