A visit to the Touraine area isn't complete without a stop at a winery, and we chose the growers' cooperative called Les Caves de la Gourmandière for ours. It's located in the village of Francueil, just across the road from the Château de Chenonceau.
Bunches of white wine grapes being conveyed into the press at La Gourmandière
There was a lot of activity at La Gourmandière yesterday afternoon. A truck full of boxes of wine was being unloaded into the sales room by forklift. The wine box (called a "bag-in-box" or a fontaine à vin) is a small cardboard carton with a spigoted plastic bag inside, holding five or ten liters of wine. Nearby, a load of hand-harvested grapes was being put into the press to make juice that will be fermented into white wine.
A wider view of the unloading of grapes into the press
Another reason for all the activity at La Gourmandière was that the 2012 bernache has just gone on sale. La bernache is the local name for the grape juice that is in the first stages of fermentation at harvest-time, and it's an autumn treat for grape-growers and the general public alike. This was Sauvignon Blanc juice, and it was pleasingly sweet, tart, and only mildly alcoholic (3% to 4% alcohol, the man told me — the finished wine will 12% alcohol).
Bernache is sold in recyled mineral water bottles. In other words, they fill plastic bottles from the fermentation vat and punch a hole in bottle lid so that the gases produced by the ongoing fermentation process won't make the bottle explode. We bought some (two euros for 1.25 liters) and enjoyed a glass or two before dinner back at home. Here's an article about bernache that Bertrand posted on wineterroirs.com.