Well, we have done it, our first salon Vignerons Indépendants, at Nice, and very intimidating it was, to be among all those big names – and behind an anonymous stand! But we found our friends from Jura, le domaine Baud, only two places away and Julian Cheminal from Mas Rouge at Vic a few rows in front of us, which made us feel at home.
We made new friends again all around us. So “hello!” to Domaine Deleuze-Rochetin at Uzes. Jean-Michel and Catherine are an extra-ordinary couple, who had the courage to “save the family jewels”, at an age when most are thinking about hanging their boots up and embrace a modern style. To Madame Archimbaud Bouteiller of Chateau de Montmirail, who gave us enormous encouragement and displayed a “sang froid” that we one day hope to possess. And to the young couple of Chateau D’Escot, Medoc, Bruno and Ignes – to whom we wish Bonne chance! A little further away we had two houses of Bourgogne and a Bas-Armagnac. Such distinguished company encourages us to learn from what we have seen and tasted and never lose sight of what can be achieved when you really set your mind to it.
We have many years to go before we can be considered amongst the “old hands”, but we have been very lucky in each of our salons to experience the camaraderie amongst vignerons, which buoys each of us up during quiet moments and allows us to swap notes and tips and even meals at the end of the day, as in Mulhouse.
The salon has strict rules about how you may present yourself, woe betide you if you come out from behind your stand! This is intended to put everyone at the same level, but of course, many visitors referred heavily to their booklet of last year’s VI medal winners, and so newcomers have to try a little harder to catch the eye of the degustateurs. Each town and region has its own style, and we are learning how to respond to that. Our natural ebullience sometimes has to be more restrained. We were encouraged to see that our wines are interesting the restaurateurs as much as a public littered with French, Italian, American, English and of course Russian and Chinese wine amateurs. In fact, we have given our recipes to so many people now that we will be publishing them very soon on the site. But in the meantime, if you see “La Maitresse du Colonel” on a dessert menu near you – you know where it came from!
After the order from the maison Bringel in Alsace for éclat, she will soon be gracing a recipe book for cheese….details to be released soon. The dark horse is indeed shining her light across the culinary stage.
Our green shirts?… we had them on alone for the first day, but once the adrenaline rush wore off, we were forced to admit that the heating in the huge exhibition hall wasn’t winning against the biting cold outside – and put our coats on. But we brought bemused smiles to the faces of our neighbours, who shook their heads in disbelief at our naked forearms whilst they were wrapped in coats, hats and even scarves. We will be looking for a warmer version with long sleeves before we go to Vignerons Indépendants at Lyon and Paris at the beginning of March.
And a last thank-you, To Eric, Laurence and Tessa, who met us each evening in St. Jeannet, with a hot plate of food on the table and the heating turned up to chase the chills away.
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