Saturday, October 25, 2014

Road trip

Ken, Callie, and I took a short road trip this week to northern Burgundy, very close to Chablis. We rented a small gîte (vacation house) in a small village for three nights and spent a couple of days touring around and tasting wine. We didn't have the best weather, but it wasn't a washout, either.

Just a glimpse of central Avallon. I don't know who the kid is.

The drive over took us about four hours. We set out in the morning and arrived in Pouilly-sur-Loire four lunch, then drove on toward Chablis. We stopped in a couple of towns for a look along the way and to give Callie a chance to stretch her legs. The town in this photo is the Burgundian town of Avallon, built on the heights above the river Cousin. After driving through the historic center (very slowly), we spent about fifteen minutes in a small park on the ramparts. The view is from the park back into town.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Le cabanon

You've seen this one before. It's the stone storage shed in the vineyard behind our house. It's one of what I imagine are hundreds sprinkled throughout our region. They were once used for tool storage and as a refuge for vineyard workers in the days before it was easy to hop in the car and go home for lunch.

This old shed is made with a mix of stones and concrete blocks and has been patched and shored up over the years.

Most of the cabanons du vigneron that I see around here are more or less abandoned and not used for much anymore. This one is closed and locked up; others are left open to the elements and wildlife. Those are grape vines planted around the shed. They produce grapes (but they're not harvested for wine), and the growers prune the vines back every year.

Thursday, October 23, 2014


I recently mentioned how, when the leaves change color in the fall, I can clearly see where one grape varietal ends and another begins out in the vineyards. Around us there is a mix of the varietals used to make Touraine wines. Among them are gamay, cabernet, and côt for the reds, and sauvignon blanc, chenin, and some chardonnay for the whites.

White grapes on the left (probably sauvignon) and red grapes on the right (I don't know which).

Here and there you can also find, if you know what you're looking for, local grapes like grolleau and pineau d'aunis. They're grown in lesser quantity and are used mostly for blending, although the pineau d'aunis makes an excellent dry rosé which is one of my favorite wines.

From a distance, you can clearly see the transition from one varietal to another.

Throwback Thursday has taken today off.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The last of summer's flowers

Not many summer wildflowers make it into the fall. The notable exceptions are the whites of the wild carrot, or Queen Anne's lace, and the blues of wild chicory, pictured here. The flowers open when they're warmed by the sun. Otherwise, they stay closed up.

Wild chicory grows in and around the vineyard.

Even the wild carrot is mostly brown among the drying grasses these days, but there are still white blooms here and there. They should persist through November.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

More from the fall vineyard

I suspect that, now that we're back to normal fall weather, the changing of the leaves will accelerate a little. For now it's mostly the leaves on the grape vines that are showing off, but there are subtle signs of change everywhere.

The vineyard road winds back and forth through this view toward the west.

Some of you may recognize this as the view we have from the west side of our house, but I wasn't in the house when I took the picture. I was out "in" the view itself. These are the vineyards that we walk through daily with Callie.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Funky feline fotos

Here's Bert sitting with me on the deck on Saturday. The weekend's weather was very summery and we enjoyed being outdoors. It may be the last time this year as the weather is predicted to go back to normal starting today.

Bertie the black cat. Boo!

I often see Bert late in the afternoon sunning himself in the driveway. He curls up next to the log pile and snoozes. As the shadows chase the sun away, Bert shifts his position until the shadows win, then he heads out to find another spot.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

It's beginning to look a lot like autumn

We're enjoying a brief, but welcome, spell of warm weather. T-shirt weather in mid-October. Very nice. But it won't last much longer. The days are shorter, the sun is lower in the sky, and the leaves are turning and falling. The vineyards are putting on a show.

Fall colors in the vineyard.

And, because it's Sunday, it's a hunt day. I have to get out and back with Callie before nine o'clock. That's when the hunters show up. We want to be well out of their way.