Monday, 31 May 2010

Portes Ouvertes

Vignerons de Buxy“Portes ouvertes” are quite frequent events around here. The words literally mean “open doors” and most businesses choose one weekend a year to open their doors to the public, let the public sample their produce and generally have a good snoop around. It is a nice way to see a business, but usually you can sample their produce any other time so what is the big deal? The Vignerons de Buxy (the place we buy most of our wine) had an open day last weekend. Having worked in the food industry for many years, the thought of seeing lots of stainless steel vessels, pumps and pipework was not something I really needed to do, particularly in a crowd, but Cees persuaded me to go.

We arrived in Buxy and the place was heaving. There were two huge catering tents outside and a band was playing very swingy music. There were stalls selling local produce, cheese, honey and a basket weaver making and selling baskets. It was one huge party. We arrived just after lunch to avoid the crowds, not realising that you could have lunch in these tents, for a VERY reasonable price. Ah well, that was one culinary experience we missed out on. So straight into the cave itself. We were handed a glass as we entered and a little map of the tour and down we went into the cellars to follow the arrows.

Wine barrelsAs we entered the basement, we were given a piece of paper, which had various questions on it, a bit like a treasure hunt and off we went to find the first answer. The first part of the tour was in the very dark cellars with all the oak caskets, they were massive, I had no idea they would be so big. Then on to the stainless steel tank room. Again all much bigger than I had expected and then on to the grape handling areas, where grapes are crushed, separated, tested and mixed to give the right juice and also where the first fermentation took place. What really made it interesting were the signs that had been put up all over the place explaining what happened when in the process.

At different stages on the tour there were red wine, white wine, rosé and crément sampling points. There were small cookery demonstrations, food sampling, a large display of all the flavours that go to make up wine, vanilla, blackcurrant, mushrooms and many others that I can’t remember. All of this had been put in place to enhance your perception of the flavours when tasting the wines and to demonstrate how certain food complement and even alter the taste of the wines.

Basket weaverWhen we had answered all the questions on the treasure hunt form, we posted it in the box at the exit, there was one magnum an hour to be won, but no on has been round with our magnum yet!

After all that, there was a mini-bus tour of the vineyards, but the queue was too long by that time, so we didn’t bother to wait. I think you have to be early if you want to do that.

The doors opened at 09.00, lunch was available from 12.00 and in the evening there was a concert which started at 20.30 after which a simple evening meal was served. Bravo to the Vignerons de Buxy, they really pulled out all the stops for a very interesting and fun day.

Buxy is in the Côte Chalonaise region but the Mâconnais, Beaujolais and Côte d'Or are all very near here, so we will be keeping our eyes open to see when other caves in the area are having their open days, these are “portes ouvertes” well worth visiting.

To have a look at the website for our gites click here.

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