28 September 2012

Into the press

Yesterday we took a little road trip with California friends who are visiting for a few days. It was a southern route and included stops at Montrésor, La Corroirie, Montpoupon, and Chenonceau to see châteaux and other ancient monuments.

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.


  1. Ken, try transfering the bernache to a Badoit bottle [or any for "eau petillante"] and leave it for 24hrs then put in the fridge to chill... it makes a great "blance sparkly".
    Only warning... don't forget it is in there... the Badoit [or similar] bottles are pressure designed... but not extreme!!
    Are you still happy with the Archos by the way? [We are thinking of getting one...]

  2. For "blance" ... please read "blanche"

  3. I've encountered a few bugs and annoyances with the Archos, but they don't have to do with the radio. Right now I have it hooked into my amplifier in the living room and we are enjoying listening to Nostalgie Chansons Françaises.

  4. Is this winery the one where I bought a 'carré de Betz' a few years ago?

  5. I'll bet it's nice, autumn weather, too, eh? Enjoy your visit!


  6. The wine box, or cask as we call it, was apparently invented here in Australia.

  7. Yes, CHM, that's the same winery. No cheese on sale there yesterday though.

    Andrew, you don't call them BiBs?

  8. Bought some Bernache yesterday, at their other outlet in Civray-de-Touraine. Love it--it is such a taste of Autumn :-)

  9. We got to see the entire process at the Torres winery just outside of Barcelona. Not to mention a fantastic lunch and a free bottle to take with us.

  10. Ken, reading your blog regularly has re-ignited my love of France. Once I get the darned knee replacement done, and walk off a few pounds, I'm doing a driving tour of Les Beaux Villages. Thanks so much for your blog posts that give us a view into your life in France.

    Lynn in Oregon

  11. Thanks, Lynn in Oregon. I hope you enjoy your travels when the time comes.


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