An idyllic winery setting with Mont Ventoux as a backdrop.
Last week, on my very hurried way to a pre-wedding wine tasting I’d organized for a young couple from Australia, I had a feeling I needed more wine. You see, the numbers had increased the night before and it was a hot morning plus the theme was rosé and I only had two to pour. So, reaching the lovely rolling hills of the Ventoux, I caught site of a winery name on the side of the road that struck a distant chord in my cluttered brain so I screeched to a halt, did a 360 and turned up a steep mountain road.
A classy, salmon hued rosé made from Grenache, Cinsault and a bit of Syrah.
After several kilometres of tight hairpin turns and realizing my time was running out, I ditched the initial destination and turned into the first winery I happened upon, Domaine du Tix. This small 12 acres winery was started in 2001 by Philippe Danel and his wife as a way to escape the noise and pollution of Paris and live the easy-going life of a winery owner. Of course he admitted to me that he’s never worked so hard but he wouldn’t give it up for anything. We had just a bit of time to chat; just enough to learn he used to coach hockey and once went to Canada with a team.
I found a great, refreshing yet complex rosé that ended up being a hit at the tasting and a new domain that I am sure I will visit again soon.
One of my favourite pastimes during the long, cold winter months of our three-year stay in the interior of British Columbia consisted of dreaming about the amazing farmers markets I’d left behind in France. Our thrice weekly forays to the local supermarket were always an adventure — at least until we traded our bikes in for a car. The thrill of navigating through slush and snow on two wheels wore off quickly once the shopping began. Greeted by row upon row of uniformly tired, sad-looking fruits and vegetables, my mind wandered often to the warm, colourful, scented markets I’d known in France and I felt instantly soothed.
And now that we are finally home in our very special village, I can confirm that the reality is even better than my reminiscing. The local market has almost doubled in size and attracts huge summer crowds every Friday morning.
Delicious unfiltered grape juice
But it’s not full of the gawking tourists who frequent the more trendy Saturday Uzes market. There are some to be sure but the core users are villagers who want to support local farmers and at the same time catch up with friends. On Tuesdays there’s a more intimate producers only market with several excellent organic growers.
This morning I was up by 7 am to get to the market early. The sky was a deep, clean blue and the air crisp. Many merchants were still setting up their stalls, all the while joking or sharing a coffee with their colleagues. An air of lively anticipation of big crowds and good sales seemed to float about effortlessly. Another good day to be sure. The only customers this early were older, retired locals who get their shopping done before the crowds and the heat arrive.
Always time to chat
The whole scene took me instantly back to all those early mornings several years ago when I sold wine five times a week at markets throughout the region: the routine of packing the truck the night before; the piecing pain of those 5 a.m. alarms followed by a lonely drive in pre-dawn half darkness. But the hard part was quickly forgotten once I got set up and that same anticipation kicked in. A kind of perpetual optimism that kept us coming back for more regardless of the days outcome.
So what makes my market and any good market so much better from a sterile North American supermarket? Well you buy your veggies from a farmer who picked them just hours earlier and your meat from a butcher who greets you by your first name. Christian, the honey guy always has a good story or two.
Solange, lets me taste her wines and at the same time she brings me up to date on the latest news in the wine business. The recession has brought about a lot of closures, lower prices and slack sales but she is optimistic about the future. With this years harvest her Mas Mouries will be an official organic wine. Crises come and go but these tough, resilient people always find a way to make things work. I can’t wait till next Friday.