September 29, 2009
It is the month of September, and actually it is the last day.
What has happened here in Gevrey?
The month has been wonderful. I do not remember a month of September that has been this warm and dry. The weather has been beautiful.
Now after the weather report I will move on.
What has Keith done this month? HE MADE IT TO THE TOP OF MONT VENTOUX (on his touring bike).. I had written in a previous Blog (April's) that he tried the climb in April, but was stopped due to snow. Well last week there certainly was not any snow and he went to the top. YEAH. He did not have his photo taken at the top, but he took this photo.
Now, I will tell you about the vendanges (grape harvest). It has its’ own word in french. The word "vendanges" only refers to the grape harvest.
This is a significant event in this region or any region where wine is the principal business.
The date the harvest can start is posted (ban des vendanges). Each region is different of course due to the difference in climate. This custom goes back to the Middle Ages, and why not. Grapes have been grown here for over 1,000 years.
Before this (usually around July here in the Cote D’Or) the winemaker bottles wine that is ready and cleans all his equipment to get ready for the new harvest.
Then they wait, hoping for sunny days in August to increase the sugar in the grapes and pray that there are no major storms with hail. As the date of harvest nears, an analysis of the grapes is done to check the sugar and acid levels. Workers are hired (the vendangeurs) and the winegrower sets a date to start the harvest (within the ban).
Many grapes are picked by hand. The Grand Crus are certainly picked by hand (oh there may be one or two who use machines, but it is rare). Most Premier Crus are also picked by hand. Here in Gevrey, even village wine “Gevery-Chambertin”, and “Bourgogne Rouge” may be hand picked. There are winegrowers that strongly feel that machines ruin the grapes and are hard on the vines. There are others who look at the advantages of harvesting by machine, therefore each winegrower makes his/her own decision.
This year the ban was posted for the Cote for September 10th. Many winegrowers waited until the 12th (the weekend) to start.
And then IT starts. There are trucks and tractors everywhere. It is not a time to be in a hurry on the small french roads, with tractors and trucks continually going back and forth hauling grapes from the fields. There are even warning signs posted, “ATTENTION VENDANGES”. The hillside is dotted with trucks, tractors and vendangeurs. Did you know that the good grapes are the ones at the bottom?
I went out with a friend on a Sunday morning to take photos of the harvest. We started here in Gevrey at the vines that are Chambertin-Clos de Beze. This is the probably the most respected red wine from Gevrey and it is known worldwide. The variety grape here in Gevrey is Pinot Noir. That is the only grape grown. We took some photos in the early morning light and talked to the person who was sorting the grapes. He gave us some grapes to taste. They were sweet, juicy and our hands were covered in sticky syrup. The Pinot Noir grapes are small. It surprised me the first time I saw them.
Size of grapes- this is a regular size business card
After Gevrey, we went to the Clos de Vougeot, but the workers were coming in from the vines for a break. So we turned back in the direction of Gevrey and stopped in Chambolle-Musigny. Here there were lots of workers in the field. It was a sunny day, a wonderful day for a harvest. August had been generous with lots of sun, and the winegrowers are very happy with the potential of this years harvest. The workers are equally nice, even posing for photos. As we were taking photos, one group of vendangeurs finished with the harvest. When the vendangeurs are finished with the harvest, it is time for the paulée (the big party). They hop on the trucks and tractors, drive around honking the horn to signal that they are done. There is a small part of the custom that I was not aware of, prior to this beautiful Sunday morning. The truck was coming down the small vineyard road, honking and the occupants were standing in the back celebrating and shouting. Hmm now I know, they throw grape bunches at everyone (the rejected grapes). SMACK... I got one juicy sticky bunch right on my hand. It really explodes!!!!
I have photos here from our Sunday morning outing.
I took a video with my camera of the workers dumping grapes. I took it while my camera was set on high quality. Not sure how to upload. 21 seconds was going to take more than 5 hours. ANY HELP?? Write me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org
At pottery last Thursday, Christine’s husband is a winegrower (Christine is the pottery instructor). She gave us some of the first juice to taste. Zowie... it was really sweet. The sugar content is very high this year, and the winegrowers very happy indeed.
On to other things. We got a composter. Last Sept 2008, Gevrey & Commune sent out a letter asking if we would be interested in buying a composter from the community if they bought in volume. We responded with a YES (actually OUI). Then in March we had to choose wood or plastic and pay for it. Finally in August we had a note that we could pick it up September 2nd. So Keith put it together, and we immediately put it to use. Now with the fall yard clean up, it is ¾ full. Also all my kitchen vegetable scraps go in too.
And yes, now it is the end of the garden season and I will have lots more to add to our composter. I am going to miss my garden. I so enjoyed going out for fresh tomatoes every day. And my basil came in really well this year, as did the and beans, carrots (an experiment this year) and of course tons of zucchini. My pumpkin plant did not bear any pumpkins though! My space is small, but I did have lots of good vegetables from the garden this year.
Three weeks ago, I went to get wine with Marie Therese. We went to Buxy as usual and then stopped at Rully . We tasted Jean-Claude Breliere’s 2008 Premier Cru Margotes, white wine. It is a winner. Have to put it away, but it is really a nice wine. Marie Therese already has some orders for it, and so we will have to return to pick some up this week.
On 27th of September the Photo club of Gevrey had an outing to visit Cluny. Maybe you remember that I mentioned that this year and next Cluny is celebrating its’ 1100 anniversary (it is usually stated that the Cluny was founded in 910, but some think it was actually 909). I will not provide a total history lesson here today. But I have to mention that it was the biggest church in the world, unfortunately not a lot survived (St Peter’s in Rome is the biggest church today) It started to fall in the 12th century (financial problems) and the Abbey in Cluny was destroyed by the Huguenots in 1562.
The Photo Club of Gevrey has been asked by the Mayor of Gevrey to prepare an Exhibit of photos of Clunisian sites. So we had our road trip to visit the most famous of the Clunisian sites. All over Burgundy there are other churches and buildings (the chateau here in Gevrey is Clunisian).
We had to leave at 7:15am!! It is about 1h 50-minute drive, and the president of the club thought we should meet at 9am. Joelle and Herve picked me up (Keith is in the Loire Valley working). The weather could not have been better, it was a great day, long and tiring, but great nonetheless. I have some good and some bad photos. My “big” camera was acting up and the photos were dark, but a little Photoshop helped save some of them. I had my little one too, so all was not lost.
With the tour, there was a short 3D film to show the reconstructed model of the church. The size is really amazing actually mind blowing. The height of the ceiling, and the length of the church. I have included a photo of the reconstruction. Note the three towers, two survived and are in my photos .
We ate lunch in Cluny as a group (Sunday lunch is a big meal), toured a little more, then we left to take photos of Brancion, a medieval city. It was a long, but fun day. Arrived back home at 7pm.
So that ends the month.
MY COOKBOOK LINK HERE
RECIPE FOR THE MONTH
This is an easy almost healthy recipe ( a little olive oil ). It is fall now, and the squash in the garden is ready. And this soup is so pretty too.
Use a small butternut. I can get a large squash cut, so I buy a quarter of a squash.
- About 2 lbs of squash (not cooked), cut up in small pieces (about 2 inch chunks) and peel (remove seeds too)!!
- 3 cups of chicken broth (make or buy or use the cubes) I have not tried vegetables broth, but I am sure it would work also.
- 1 small white potato, cut into small pieces
- ¼ tsp minced fresh ginger (Really just a little. If you like strong ginger, make the soup with carrots)
- chopped garlic (1 clove)
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 TBS of olive oil
- fresh thyme
- Salt and pepper
- Saute the chopped onion in a pan with the oil. Add the garlic
- Add the thyme and continue to cook another 2 minutes (the smell of the thyme is fantastic).
- Stir in the ginger
- Add the squash cubes and potato to the onions.
- Add 2 cups of broth and stir well.
- Simmer until the squash is tender (depends on the size of your chunks- maybe 15-20 minutes)
- Using a blender, or food processor blend it all together until smooth.
- Salt and pepper to taste (the amount of salt will depend on the salt in your chicken broth. Taste as you add)
- Return to pan and simmer until the soup is nice and thick.
That is all there is to it!! You could add some cream if you want , but I like it just as it is. I did just look up Jamie Oliver's recipe. Somewhat similar, he uses sage instead of thyme. That would be good too.
Let me know if you like it.