A Little Learning. A lot of Wine Tasting.

Saturday June 27th,

Latelier de Cuisine Gourmande:

Earlier this week on Tuesday I went to a resturant in town Toulouse for my morning class called Latelier de Cuisine Gourmande. It was a little place that took in groups of people and showed them how to cook and prepare a tradition French meal. The food we had prepared was nothing like what we had seen in resturants, but we also hadn’t found very many tradition resturants in the Capital of Toulouse. My cooking group was put on desserts. We were given the recipe to prepare a muffin like dessert called a Madeleine. I had had chocolate and vanille Madeleines from the vending machine at school but the one we were making was not quite as sweet. The ingredients were eggs, flour, yeast, shredded cheese, blue cheese, and walnuts. 

  Chef Morgan and I baking our Madeleines.

It was certainly an interesting combonation of ingredients for me, but I found it to be quite tasty. It was really fun getting to be a Chef for the day and pretend like I knew what I was doing in the kitchen; now if they would have put me on anything besides the desserts then people probably would have came up sick in a few hours. Cooking is certainly not one of my strong points. Although last night I managed to make some pasta.. boiling water and throwing in noodles can’t be that hard, but I figured I would mess it up somehow. To my surprise it came out great. There’s one more thing to add to my short list of things I can cook, that is add it to things like grilled chicken, hotdogs, and cardboard pizza. 

Château Plaisance:

Yesterday we visited the Château Plaisance winery and vineyard located in Vacquiers, France. This was certainly different from the rest of the tours we have been on so far. The operation has a total of 70 hecters of land for growing organic grape vines. They don’t use any chemicals or mechianical machinery in the fields when prunning or harvesting the crop. This was our first time at a vineyard that was ran organically and it was very much so an educating one. The farmer was a very sweet, older gentleman who cared deeply about his wine. He grows several different varieties of wines and prefers the more original amoras and flavors then the traditional Merlot, Chardonney, and Cabornet that you can find just about anywhere. 

  

The hands on learning that I’ve recieved here in Toulouse has been amazing.

I feel in love with his Rosé wine. I can’t drink dry wine and generally prefer a wine with a more fruity flavor and one that isn’t quite as persistent as dry wines typically are. This rosé wasn’t as fruity as what I was used to but had a better balance to it. It wasn’t overly fruity, and it wasb’t dry but it was something inbetween that hit my taste buds just right. And the best part was that the bottle was only 6.70 euro.. I mean you can’t complain about a price like that when it comes to French wine. Sure you can find wine for 2-3 euro but it certainly wouldn’t have the quality nor character that this one did. I walked away a happy camper after that wine visit and tasting.  

 
 

Château Mémoires:

Château Mémoires is a lovely small family ran winery located just outside of the city of Bordeaux. For those of you who do not know, Bordeaux is the wine capital of the world with very famous wine cellars and wineries located in and around the city. I have been lucky enough to have been placed at an internship in the regional area where Bordeaux wine is produced. Now back to Château Mémoires, it is a new winery when it comes to bottling it’s wine on scene. It used to ship it’s wine to a different location to be bottled but in the last 10-15 years it began bottling it’s own wine. They sell most of their wine in Bordeaux where it goes global and is sold all around the world from the US and Canada to other countries in the European Union. 
Next we visited the nusery that was just down the road. There are very few nurseries in France for producing baby vines which has become an issue since the past couple years a lot of farmers are on the cycle to regrow their vineyards in plots and the nurseries are able to keep up with the demand for new vines. 

 The winery is one of few to use glass corks as seen pictured in the middle left photo.

This process was new to me so I’m going to try and explain it to you. The vines are not just put in a pot, grow, and send off to the farm to be transplanted into the vineyards. After the disease of Phylloxcpa swept across France in the 19th century, killing 90% of the vines in France the french started grafting their vines. French grafting is when they use an American woodstock for the roots and shoot to protect the plant against disease, and then graft the french vines into the woodstock to produce a new baby vine. This is a very tedious process for the people in the nursery, and even with all the precautions they still can only keep 80% of the vines grown in pots and only 50% of those grown in a field. A wax is put over the grafted woodstok and plant to help to grow into one through the growth time of 18 months in the nursery before the vine gets sent out to the vineyard to be planted.

   

 The nursery where they grow vines, they even had a good ole John Deere.


Vignobles et Chais:

The next winery we went to was Vignobles et Chais, a gigantic wine operation in Bordeaux. I have never seen anything like the cellars, tanks, and storage systems that they had at this place. It was so amazing to see a huge factory operation like this in real life. We had to get rushed through our tour because we took longer than planned at the other two places so we didn’t learn a lot of statistical facts about this place but I think you will see that the photos that I have speak volumes for the winery.  

 This is just one wall in their 1st cellar of barrels, ost of their wine is stored and fermenting in steel drumbs that hold over 800 HL.

Preview & Updates:

Classes at Purpan finished up yesterday with our last final for the term in Viticulture which is my class on winemaking. Today we had the day off to go explore Toulouse, shop around the markets, and get any last minute neccesities before we all go our seperate ways and start our internships in the wine industry or animal production. Today was also the national day in France where everything in department stores goes on sale so the girls here all went shopping for some fun “French clothes” for a cheap price. 

I’m sure many of you have heard that there was a terroriist attack on France yesterday, it happened at an American-owned factory in Lyon which is far, far away from me here in Toulouse. No one has really said much about it so I don’t think it will affect me in anyway which is a good thing. 

Tonight I will be up late (around 3 am France time) to stay up and watch the Miss Blueberry Pageant that is going to be occuring back home at Argos High School at 7pm. I’m very excited to see who I will be passing my crown down too, and I can’t wait to be getting updates and Facetime footage from my Mom during the pageant. Then I will be getting up and leaving for Queyrec, France tomorrow at 1pm. I am really excited to be living and working with the Uijjttewaaal family on their winery. I met my host family’s daughter, Elise, yesterday which was really exciting. She is also 20 years old and will be living at the home this summer so we will be able to hang out and get to know each other, and the best part is that she speaks English! She told me that her home is 15 minutes from the ocean and that they have a swimming pool at their house, and to think that I thought I wasn’t going to get any sun this summer. I can’t wait to start this next chapter in this little book I like to call my life in Europe. Many more updates on my host family and internship to come.

-Bre

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