Virgile's Vineyard: A Year in the Languedoc Wine Country

Virgile's Vineyard: A Year in the Languedoc Wine Country

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by Patrick Moon
     
 

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Inheriting a badly neglected house in the south of France, Patrick Moon sets out to discover how the Languedoc has managed to transform itself into one of the world's most exciting wine regions. Virgile, a young winemaker passionately devoted to perfection, offers to initiate Patrick into the mysteries of each season's work. At the other extreme is Manu, Patrick's

Overview

Inheriting a badly neglected house in the south of France, Patrick Moon sets out to discover how the Languedoc has managed to transform itself into one of the world's most exciting wine regions. Virgile, a young winemaker passionately devoted to perfection, offers to initiate Patrick into the mysteries of each season's work. At the other extreme is Manu, Patrick's dipsomaniac neighbor, a diehard traditionalist producing a private wine-lake of unspeakable rouge. With Manu as his self-appointed guide, Patrick embarks on a series of lively encounters with growers as varied as the wines themselves. In between these bucolic expeditions, the author struggles to deal with his dilapidated inheritance—an unfamiliar and unpredictable world where the brambles are as tall as the olive trees, the water supply has dried up, and a ferocious animal lies in wait under the roof tiles.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
These two offerings could very well encourage tourists to seek the road less traveled. Virgile's Vineyard is the amusing and very personal account of Moon's adventures in the wine country of the Languedoc region of France and his efforts to restore a rundown house he inherited. Various characters weave their way through his life, but none is quite like Virgile Joly, a vineyard caretaker who becomes a major factor in Moon's efforts to salvage his olive and grape plants. Of course, we get an intimate glimpse into the everyday life of the colorful Languedoc and the lives of the equally colorful characters who inhabit it. A love of Italian hill towns those remote, walled-in places that are the devil to get to brought Yeadon and his wife to the Basilicata region, located in the arch of the Italian boot. An accomplished travel writer and skilled artist, Yeadon sketches rather than describes his adventures, infusing them with a warmth and personality that no photograph could capture. The Yeadons soon discover that residents of Italian hill towns enjoy their remoteness almost to a point of being wary of outsiders; once the couple accepts the limitations of life there, however, and the somewhat pagan practices of the inhabitants, they are warmly received, and the reader is left to bask in the incredible beauty of rural Italy. Both books would make great additions to a public library's travel section since they go beyond the typical attractions to focus on areas that are generally overlooked in tourist itineraries. Joseph L. Carlson, Allan Hancock Coll., Lompoc, CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
An Englishman crosses the Channel to spend a year in the vineyards of France. Overcoming the traditional Briton's bewilderment at sunshine, he learns a bit about the quaint locals and an awful lot about oenology. No, it's not Peter Mayle, but erstwhile lawyer and first-time author Moon, who inherits Uncle Milo's place in the southern region of Languedoc. The house is picturesque in a derelict sort of way, the vines neglected. The neighbors are sufficiently-as always-colorful to have been cast in an old Ealing comedy. Meet Manu, an imbibing, poaching rascal, and his fierce spouse. Waitress Babette is comely and bright. English historian Krystina teaches our pioneer some local history and seems quite eager to make some more with him despite his lack of enthusiasm for a bit of a romp. Virgile, the earnest winemaker, teaches the author what must surely be just about everything, from grape to glass, about the art and practice of viticulture. Virgile, in his cave, is immersed in wine-and at one point quite literally. He pulls out all the corks in relating the manifold tests and tribulations necessary to produce a product with exactly the right nose and body, a wine far different from Manu's dreaded house red. Tastings include Virgile's Carignan, Syrah, and Grenache Noir, then samplings of the local Picpoul, Mourvedre, and Cincault. With truffles, trout, snakes, bees, and the Occitan language as adjunct studies, the author's principal course in wine lore covers varietals, the vendange, and the sometimes baleful influence of the zodiac, the Romans, and the Appellation Controlee authorities. None of it is enough to faze Moon in his report on what he did on his vacation. With all the focus onFrench wine aesthetics, this isn't designed for teetotalers or Francophobes (see John J. Miller and Mark Molesky's Our Oldest Enemy, above). Seasoned with wit, though, it has legs enough for enthusiasts who may be thrilled to learn that there's actually a Grenache Blanc. (Map and line drawings)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780719565175
Publisher:
Murray, John Publishers, Limited
Publication date:
03/28/2004
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.04(w) x 7.72(h) x 0.74(d)

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Virgile's Vineyard: A Year in the Languedoc Wine Country 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
While this book has some independent literary merit, it is as an introduction to the culture and history of the Languedoc and particularly, its winemaking practices, that it is best judged. In the clever guise of an entertaining account of a sabbatical year in the Languedoc, Moon simultaneously provides a guide to the region and its traditional winemaking techniques. This is clearly by design, as his vividly drawn cast of characters and fortuitously timed exploits are too well crafted to represent a literal narrative of his stay. As the tale begins, Patrick has just inherited his uncle’s home in a small village near Montpelier. He soon meets his neighbor, Manu Gros, a sociable everyman who invites him over to sample his wines early in the morning and offers to show him around the local vineyards (more as a way to escape his wife’s watchful eye while sampling the product, it appears, than for the sake of educating Patrick). Patrick also quickly attracts the attention of a wealthy divorcee who happens to be a local history buff. As these two compete for his attention, the stage is set for adventures that introduce him to the leading appellations and producers in the area, as well as teach him about the local history. Patrick also soon meets Virgile Joly, a small struggling local wine producer who believes in organic viticulture and is of course in need of an extra pair of hands.  Between the days that Patrick helps Virgile in the vineyard and winery and the days that Virgile and Manu assist Patrick in restoring his uncle’s vineyard, olive grove and gardens, we learn all the basics of traditional vineyard management and winemaking techniques, as well as a good deal about the local climate, soils, pests, grape varieties and other crops.  The well-spun tale with its lively characters keeps our attention and allows us to understand both the physical and mental challenges of pruning, harvesting, winemaking and marketing that a small producer faces. The book provides a useful introduction to the Languedoc-Rousillon region that will benefit any traveler to the region, especially those interested in learning about its wines and winemaking traditions.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago