Posts Tagged ‘Hermitage’

Walksweeks Your Way

June 3, 2015

Some contrasting images from a recent Walksweek with three guests from Minnesota and Oklahoma.

We set off on a blustery morning for our first walk together above the little village of St Basile.

Our first glimpse of the Château of Maisonseule

Our first glimpse of the Château of Maisonseule.

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We were invited to take a private tour of the castle, with Kate acting as interpreter.  It is truly impressive . . . .

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IMG_7992 (800x600)From the Renaissance West facade . . .

to the powerful Medieval defensive towers.

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Inside there were welcoming fires and we heard fascinating stories about the castle and its history.

A few days later we were in the vineyards of the Côtes du Rhone.

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Our hiking route took us through the famed Crozes Hermitage and Hermitage parcels, with frequent stops at information panels.  There was a quiz at the end and our Walksweekers scored highly and won a little prize!

The weather had definitely warmed up and after a good day’s walking, winetasting, shopping and sampling delicious Valrhona chocolate, we rounded things off with a glass of bubbly at a spectacular viewpoint.

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On another excursion our intrepid guests set out from les Sarziers towards Boucieu le Roi with instructions to “Hunt the Hamper” for their special picnic lunch.  They found it in a shady spot by the river and after a restorative break continued to the station, where they boarded their vélorail pedal car for an exhilirating ride down the Doux Gorge which turned out to be full of thrills and surprises!

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With a visit to the market in Lamastre, convivial dinners at les Sarziers and a varied choice of hikes and activities each day, it was a great week.  Our guests had chosen a Walksweeks Your Way and we have decided to concentrate exclusively on this formula for the future as it gives great flexibility to plan the week and enjoy the very best of our very special area …. your way!

Late grape harvest and the endless struggle with nature

October 3, 2013

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Bossing nature about is the key to all the wonderful vegetables and fruit that we find in the garden, on trees and bushes and finally in the markets and supermarkets.  But sometimes plants don’t like to be pushed around and want to feel weak and feeble and ill and to give up the ghost.  You can be nice to them, learn their first name, weed all around them, give them some medication – but when they want to feel sick, they want to feel sick and they often do it fast when your back is turned.

That was certainly the case with the Morlanche vineyard this year.  The team had pruned the vines carefully, weeded around their feet, tied them to the wires, kept the unwanted shoots under control

and then . . . .

from one day to the next, BLACK ROT arrived on its black horse with its evil spells and turned the vineyard into a leper colony.

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Quick medication in the form of sulphur did save some of the grapes, but we already knew in July that this year’s harvest would be done in half a day – which will admittedly give us much more time to eat and drink than in other years (quite a challenge!)

IMG_1190 (800x600)The only consolation is the fact that 2013 has been a very strange year for French wines.  With the awful weather in May, the growing cycle of the vines was delayed by two to three weeks.  Even when the sunny summer finally arrived the grapes never managed to catch up and in all vineyards across the country the harvests are one to three weeks late, an event which, according to Ministry of Agriculture statisticts has not happened since 1988.

This year the grape picking and general festivities at Morlanche will be on October 12.  Never, since 1990 when we first started to be part of the Morlanche vendanges, have we harvested in October.  What the same statistics predict is a harvest below average in terms of quantity.  Better to make a mistake in a bad year than in a good one!

Now for the good news. In June, the beatiful Hermitage hill,  where we usually take our Walksweeks visitors for a walk followed by a winetasting, was listed as a French Heritage site.

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Here is a good place to observe how humans have succeeded for generations in bullying nature with the help of a horse or two, manpower and a bit of bouillie bordelaise and sulphur.

We are not quite there yet at Morlanche – need to find a horse first!

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Wine Tasting at les Sarziers

June 19, 2012

Markus has started a new initiative – a “dégustation” in our own wine cellar at les Sarziers. Here he takes us through the local Gamays and Syrahs right up to the noble Hermitage from Tain whilst also adding, for comparison, a Riesling from Alsace and a couple of Burgundies.

The intimate and atmospheric setting is ideal for appreciating those elusive aromas and flavours and for sharing impressions in an informal way. And later on, the Hermitage was just perfect with the cheese course at dinner.

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