Thursday, September 22, 2016

Visit to F. Oudard winery

Today the sun came out for awhile. This butterfly got stuck in the bathroom window briefly, fluttering madly around before finding the exit.

Spent time coloring another shot in sequence 17, otherwise, but at 2:50pm, Laetitia and Karine drove us to a local champagne winery...

F. Oudard is a champagne winery about 10 minutes by car from Camac, on a hill (not everywhere is flat, here). Mme. Oudard gave us a tour of the grounds. Our timing was right - the "grapers" were out handpicking grapes during the brief, 10-day harvest season. We tried snipping grapes from the vine using the pickers' cutters/scissors, and then watched them speed their way through the process much faster than us. These are 50-year-old, still fertile vines. Their usual lifespan is 25-or-so years.
Here, too, nuclear towers silhouette the sky, this time over vineyards.
Here they are doing their thing. Paid by the kilo, divided equally amongst team members. Slow snippers are relegated to the outskirts, I guess kind of like the last kids to be picked for basketball sort of thing.  Karine said that everybody does some grape picking in their youth, because you earn good money, and it's a temporary gig, so you can get back to school after the season is over. It's backbreaking work, of a different sort than sitting in front of the computer, but you know, you're outside, and these grape snippers seemed to revel in that fact.
The credo here is "everything by hand", or "we do it traditionally". F. Oudard grow their own grapes, crush them, bottle them, and market them.

 Here is the wine press - grapes are pressed four times before they are swapped out for a fresh batch of 4,000 kilos worth of white or red grapes. After the wine press, we saw the big steel vats where the juice was separated from the skin and pulp, and fermented (if I remember correctly). Mme. Oudard warned us not to stay too long in the vat room because the fumes would make us drunk. I lingered, but unfortunately did not become inebriated.
We were taken down to "la cave", where champagne goes into hibernation for at least 10 months. In the case of of (?) (already forgot the name), it can remain in bottle for up to five years, but champagne is different from regular wine in that it does not, apparently, improve with age past a certain point.

 A patron saint of the cave.
 Good use of a wine bottle.
Another angle of fermentation.
And of course at the end of the tour, we bought a few bottles. Champagne is the result of adding an enzyme to the wine to create the "bubbly".

What impressed me the most, perhaps, was the fact that a small crowd of local people showed up at the wine presses to watch the process, some with babies in tow. What a great aspect of of the whole process - community event!

With dinner, tonight!

 A few more images, courtesy of Ann (this one, here), and Feng Chen (the ones that follow).

We had a good time.  : )

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