French Natural Beauty
With the luxurious, warm l’arrivée du printemps (Spring), the blossoms burst into bloom, the bees were humming a pretty little ditty, and those that suffer from allergies were sneezing like there’s no tomorrow.
After living in the centre of big, bustling cities for so many years, these days I marvel at the more obvious signs to the seasons changing around me in the gorgeous French countryside.
The natural beauty of plants and trees in the garden coming to life again, or meandering through the local farmers market to see the latest fresh produce on offer, all puts a spring in your step after the cooler months of the year. Delicious red strawberries and white asparagus are the most recent newcomers to the rustic, market stall tables, and I can’t wait to be able to offer our guests the ripe, juicy melons that will soon be rolling in.
Bright purple wild flowers popping up between the rows of surrounding vines would have to be one of my favourite sights. With a little too much enthusiasm, I made the silly mistake of sending one I’d plucked from the garden back to Australia in a birthday card once. Needless to say, it didn’t make it after the quarantine department sniffed out the scent.
The Bordeaux vineyards have also started to bud into life, which is a beautiful thing to watch, with teeny weeny bunches of grapes already beginning to form. It’s difficult to imagine these delicate little things, hanging low on the vines, in a few months time as plump, dark grapes or, even more so, that they could be a smooth, red wine in years to come.
The tasting notes from last year’s harvest have already begun, with the arrival of en primeur week in Bordeaux in April, where the cycle of a grape’s life continues. The idea is to provide investors and wine buffs with the opportunity to pre-order a certain vintage at a discounted price, before it’s bottled and ready for commercial sale.
That’s a lot of pressure on your tastebuds, combined with a vivid imagination, to foresee the style and flavour of wine in years to come. With the amount of swilling required to make all of those big decisions, you can probably guess why en primeur is also known in some circles as ‘black teeth week’.
It’s not just the surrounding flora that has started to transform and dazzle my senses. Animal life has bounded back into the garden at L’Autre Vie, with an adorable young deer strolling into view last week, rubbing its little horns on our fig tree at dusk.
We also had another welcome visitor that hopped into the garden to pause for thought just a few days ago, and all I wanted to do was give it a big cuddle. Sadly, it was too quick for me, and the soft, grey, white-tailed hare bounced off into the distance.
With such beautiful creatures, and gorgeous, vibrant colours all around me, is it any wonder that I have embraced the natural signs of seasonal changes that go hand in hand with Bordeaux wine country living?
The hum of an inner-city bar or restaurant spilling out onto the street was once the true nod that warm weather was upon me. Some days I miss that, but then having a traditional apéritif in the garden, with fruit trees and a lush vineyard all around me is pretty hard to beat.Image credits:
1. Wild flowers in surrounding vineyard
2. Grape vines starting to sprout
3. ‘en primeur’ week. Via theyounggentlemensguide.com
4. A deer in our garden