Virgile's Vineyard: A Year in the Languedoc Wine Countryby Patrick Moon
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 inheritancean 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.
- Murray, John Publishers, Limited
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.04(w) x 7.72(h) x 0.74(d)
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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.