Petit Courselle goes fishing…for tadpoles !!?

With Auntie Janine and our pals we decided to go fishing for tadpoles in the pond at the bottom of the garden. Topped and tailed with hats and wellies and armed with our buckets and nets, we set out to look for these tiny beasties which, they tell me, eventually turn into frogs.

To catch these fantastic critters we had to prepare our nets during the winter months: by finding a strong stick in the woods, then keeping the string bags from the oranges that mummy bought, and assembling the two with great care.

Flat out on our tummies by the edge of the pond we had fun together splashing about under Auntie Janine’s watchful eye. Some of us were more adept than others at catching tadpoles. The sun warmed our backs, and above all lit up the clear water.   Suddenly, I could scarcely believe my eyes, I saw a sunken treasure sparkling in the depths.

I stretched out, everyone rushed to help me and I finally managed to grab hold of it. This is my treasure and I’m going to be able to give it to mummy on Mother’s Day, tomorrow, I shouted.

“It’s a bottle of wine” Auntie Janine told me, “and it’s full!”

I look at it, turning it in every direction. It’s attached to a string, tied to a branch. Oh the deception! It’s not treasure after all but a bottle put there by the vineyard workers to keep it cool for their midday break.

“We are going to taste it now!” say my friends excitedly. I hesitate, Auntie disapproves … and in any case we haven’t got a corkscrew.

Oh well. At least we still have the tadpoles to look at. We can’t wait to see them turn into frogs.

Do what pleases you in May*

What pleases me the most is to hang about in the cellar, with roller skates on my feet. Twisting and turning between the wine barrels, zigzagging at full throttle between the pallets, trying out impossible manoeuvres on the concrete floor.

Starting at the far end and skating the length of dad’s cellar, turning slightly right into the winery, being careful to miss the metal doors of the vats, and the cardboard boxes and sacks of corks in the bottling room, and to brake at the end so as not to crash into the big wooden door of the tasting room … I could practically do it with my eyes shut.

Most important is to do this on the quiet when Papa is out in vineyard because he says is too dangerous – pooh! In May I can do just what I want!

* En mai, fais ce qu’il te plait, is a French proverb equivalent to ‘Never cast a cout till May is out’. However the literal translation works better in this anecdote.

Happy Birthday to Le Petit Courselle !

anniversaire

Le Petit Courselle is a year old! One year! I’ve been among you for a whole year!

I have just blown out my first ever candle with my “two sisters” (les deux soeurs), Marie and Sylvie (Courselle) who everyone tells me, are “Epicurean winegrowers” (vigneronnes épicuriennes). What is that supposed to mean?!

Of Course I invited “Les copains” and “les Copines” but my ‘well brought up’ friend (“le bien-élevé“) is also at my birthday party … you know, this wine that languishes for ages in barrel until it is just right for your taste buds? What a lazy-bones – I certainly won’t be running about in the fields with him!

And finally, all my aunts and uncles, from France and elsewhere are also here … what a crowd!

Fortunately my house is big … my house? Gosh, how silly am I? I’ve never told you about it … my house is Château Thieuley, right in the heart of this magical Bordeaux wine region! You don’t believe me? Well you know what they say at playtime? “If you lie you go to hell … ” and that scares me, so to show that I am telling the truth, here is some rock solid proof!

Generation III” is the wine made by my big sisters at Château Thieuley! He has just joined us and I am delighted to have him alongside! Get acquainted quickly, because thanks to him the family is finally complete.

Le Petit Courselle discovers le bourru*

vinbourru

The grape harvest had been underway for two weeks. I knew that the white grapes were picked first, then the red.

Every evening after school, I went through the same ritual: I’d pull on my boots and dash to the cellars. There was always something to clean, machinery to oil or some hoses to connect to the vats. After a while Papa would send me back to do my homework. Hmmph! Even though I loved school I preferred working in the winery.

While I practised conjugating verbs with my text book on the kitchen table, Mama would be lovingly preparing a mushroom omelette and at the same time making me recite these confounded irregular verbs. The atmosphere was studious until mama asked me “would you mind going to find a bottle of bourru?” I leapt from my chair, grabbed the plastic bottle Mama was holding out for me, a flashlight (it was starting to get dark and I wasn’t comfortable otherwise in the winery) and ran to the vat room.

Papa pointed me to Vat No.7 while he rinsed clean the last hosepipes. I took the stepladder to reach the little tasting tap and let this mysterious juice trickle out.

Mmmm, it smelled of fresh fruit, sweets and it frothed in the bottle … I couldn’t understand why, when friends came to get some every evening, my parents would say “Go easy, this juice can be a bit treacherous”. Once out of Papa’s sight I tasted this grape juice, once, twice, and so on …

it fizzed, it was sweet and the freshness of this perfumed juice really tickled my taste buds. In a word, I adored it!

When I gave the half empty bottle of bourru to Mama, I felt my head spinning and I then understood that this interesting beverage had something magical about it: it made us merry!

 

* Le bourru is slang for fermenting grape juice. It only exists for a few days each year, while the alcohol is around 3-4 %. The unfermented sugars make it taste deliciously sweet. It’s cloudy, it doesn’t keep and it doesn’t travel, so it is an entirely local delicacy … and one with mildly laxative side effects.