Thursday, July 28, 2016

France: Impressions of a Visit to an Organic Winery

Back on one of the early onboard days, we had an excursion to Oingt and a Beaujolais organic winery. Vins Biologiques.

First, though, our guide gave us a lesson in pronouncing Oingt: Start with the beginning of the word "one" or "would" or "wah" (baby's cry) : "oi". Then finish with an "ng" sound at the back of your throat. Make it short: "oing"! Oingt.

The village of Oingt, only 30 km from Lyon, is a restored mediaeval village in the Pays des Pierres Dorées, the area known for its use of local limestone containing iron oxide for building and giving structures a lovely golden hue.

Nearby, a vineyard

The owner gave a brief talk about producing wine, then it was indoors for what we were all waiting for: wine tasting!

One of the couples on our tour were owners of a winery in Eugene, Oregon

Afterwards, while everybody was struggling over which wine(s) they would buy

 I looked around at the various collections. 

Des Outils Agricole (Tools)

Des Sabots

Des Panniers

Wondering what on earth that old macrame is all about - so wide! and what for?

Below is the macrame in use - placed strategically over the team of oxen so that the fringe would help keep flies out of their eyes.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

France: Impressions of a Truffle Farm and an Olive Grove

Truffle Farm

There was this dusty road with a view...

and this field.

Nearby this was growing, so you know what the climate is like.

The trees on the farm are a mixture of evergreen oak and white oak and underground around them, well mainly under the white oak, truffles grow. In the past, pigs were used to hunt for truffles because they love them so much that they become efficient truffle hunters. The problem is then to retrieve the truffle from the pig who would rather not give it up. Nowadays truffle farmers train dogs to do the same job and reward them with a dog-friendly treat. For these dogs, a click from the clicker and a ball.

The dogs and their handler truffle-hunting

The first truffle they found was quite small but in just a few minutes they found some larger ones too.

Afterwards, we headed into this beautiful farmhouse

for truffle tasting and a glass of wine. The truffle was shaved into generous slices and served with some bread and olive oil. It tasted nutty and I thought it seemed a bit woody texture-wise. 

Meanwhile, the dogs were chilling out.

Olive Grove

We were treated to and enjoyed a talk by the owner of Moulin Calanquet about olive trees, the killing frost of 1956, terroir etc. Olive trees can grow for hundreds of years, but a frost is one of the things they are particularly susceptible to. Two-thirds of the trees in Provence that date from the 1950's and before died in the frost, but regenerated  as shoots from the ground up so that what used to be a single trunk became 5/6 separate trunks.

Modern press, immaculately clean, above 
and the old way, decommissioned, below

The olive pits are ground up and then used as fuel or fertilizer so nothing is wasted.

Moulin Calanquet was set in a lovely garden...

...with its own wildlife...

See it?

We enjoyed an olive and olive oil tasting (on bread), comparing some of their popular kinds and then were pointed in the direction of their well-stocked shop where some serious damage was done by our enthusiastic group. The olive oils were available in different sizes and formats. The cans were perfect for putting into luggage. They had lots of decorative items as well - all attractively displayed to seem irresistible ;)

After shopping, there was time to enjoy the garden on a beautiful day