Harvest time in the Languedoc

I don’t know about you but I can scarcely believe we are already into September.

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We have been blessed with the most gorgeous summer but now it all seems to have gone in a flash. Not that the weather is anything but lovely still – and the odd flash storm with heavy rain for half an hour or so followed by intense sun again means that the wines for this year are going to be good – or so I am told by our wine making neighbours in our village.
 
The Languedoc-Roussillon is the largest wine making area in the world. Until the 1980s, the wines were largely rustic, pretty cheap and seemingly of little interest to the export markets –but this has all changed. We live in an area which is sun drenched and fertile, ideal conditions for wine making. These days the Languedoc wines are riper, more textured and more sophisticated. We are always amazed to see wines from little villages we know for sale in London bars when we go back there, priced for about five times more than they are down here! The export market is large now. Today’s best Languedoc wines have a high content of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. They tend to be darker and more refined than they once were. Certainly we are spoilt for choice when it comes to buying a bottle or two: we are literally surrounded by the stuff!
 
Personally I love the wine harvest or vendange. This has started this week all around us. Yes, one needs to be a little patient on the roads when momentarily stuck behind one of those high sided vehicles, tailor made to skim down a couple of rows of vines. They remind me of transformers! Then there are the tractors with trailers full of grapes trundling along. The colours are extraordinary: either deep purple mixed with maroon or creamy pale green is probably the best way to describe it. You can actually smell the grapes – lovely!
 
Of course September is also the time for la rentree – the kids going back to school. The shops are full of shiny new text books, paper and pens and most of the children in our village are back this week. I have always thought of September as being like a new beginning somehow. It’s not the start of the year but because the new school year starts, it still has a feeling of “let’s make a fresh start” somehow. If this is how you feel too, this would be the best time to come down to the South of France: prices are cheaper, there are less tourists and the colours and light are truly at their best. Oh, and did I mention the wine?

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