The last couple of weeks have been filled with the constant to and fro-ing of huge interestingly shaped machines. After a long dry and hot summer the weather turned fickle for the grape harvest and this week has been a mixture of sun and showers not unlike English, April weather conditions. However, this has not deterred the wine growers and the annual harvest has begun. The air is filled with the heady scent of brewing and there is much shouting of instructions over the sound of the machines. It all bodes well, as apparently this has the makings of being a great year for French wines. (I will let you know later, possibly quite a while later, or better still come and visit and sample for yourselves - hic!)
I am hoping that our current guests; three couples and a baby were not woken too early by the thump, thump of the grape crushing machines that started work before 6am this morning. They have gathered to celebrate their friends' wedding in the nearby village of St-Paul-Mon-Petit and you nearly always need stamina for a French marriage celebration. A wedding usually starts at the local Maire for the official part and depending upon personal choice is followed by a second ceremony in a Church or other special place. In between there is pause for canapés and drinks of course. The second ceremony is usually followed by a wedding reception with more delicious food and drink and the popular choice for the cake is a 'Croquembouche,' which is a pyramid of cream filled choux puff pastry balls encircled in caramelised sugar. Deliciously light and crunchy in the mouth. The cake is presented with a fanfare and much chanting for "Le Gateau" and can be huge depending on the number of guests, who would normally be served three or four per person!
The party will go on until the early hours and sometimes includes the guests following the tradition of ensuring that the couple have celebrated their nuptials by visiting the wedding chamber with a special soup, which the couple would be expected to sample. Questionable antics on many counts - not least the ingredients of the soup!
Quite often there will be a wedding breakfast on the day after the wedding ensuring that the guests make their way home with a final few drinks, food and plenty of singing and goodwill. Such a relief that we can rely upon the Vendanges to keep plentiful supplies of wine.