Harpers Interview – Mathew Lyons talks to Stephen and Jeany about the wine’s success due to its excellent food-pairing qualities.
A gold medal is a big thing in the wine world and there are many competitions held all year round. But… (to borrow a line from James Bond): ”there are ‘gold medals’ and ‘gold medals’… This is the latter…”
If you’re out on a Provenςal road at three o’clock in the morning and see bright beams of light cutting through a vineyard, don’t worry. It isn’t someone crushing the vines with a 10-ton John Deere, or a truck attempting a u-turn after missing his turn-off.
Mistral – what a cool name. ”A strong, cold north-westerly wind that blows through the Rhône valley and southern France towards the Mediterranean” – according to the Oxford Dictionary. Which is precisely where Provence is situated. The air is dry, the sky bright and clear and the temperature usually gets a lot cooler.
If you’ve been to Provence you have surely driven past many of these houses. A Mas is a traditional farmhouse, largely self-sufficient with its own fruit, vegetables, grain, milk, meat and sometimes silkworms. It was constructed with inexpensive local materials; stones or wood from the area.
It is a nice and sunny day and everyone seems to be in a good mood. There is lively banter from the stallholders and if you need to sit down for a bit then have a drink at one of the many bars along the square and sidestreets. Overshadowing everything are the old buildings which are worth a visit themselves.
We received a call from the Cotignac Wine Club about two weeks ago. Their meeting place in the cellar of Didier’s wine shop was getting rather cramped, and they were hoping we could help them out by allowing January’s get-together to be hosted in at Mirabeau.
It is December now and you could be forgiven for thinking that it is winter – the season of festive cheer; cozy fireplaces to ward of the chill of long nights and the possibility of snow ever present. Here in Provence the weather can be rather cold as well, with long periods of rain, but mostly the mid-afternoon sun manages to warm you just enough.
Not just any wine-tasting event, but something rather special for the village. I found myself shaking hands with the mayor, his wife and a number of rather influential people from the area and the evening was held in aid of fundraising for the school.
Belle, a 1979 Citroën Acadiane in original blue, it is the company mascot and the epitome of a French delivery-van from the 70’s with a history dating back to the 2CV. This particular car has been ever more sparingly deployed onto the road and always with extreme hesitation for delivery duties. The reason? Reliability.
While we were there, we learned about what Mirabeau is doing, and wanted to be involved. We got thrown into the deep end. With no French to speak of (pun intended), a bare minimum of knowledge on the subject and a crash course on the brand, Stephen & co couldn’t have asked for more enthusiastic workers! After all, what better place to learn about wine than from people who make their own internationally-recognised wines?
Restoring the interior of a four-hundred-year-old building takes time, delicate handling and long hours. Plastering of the vaulted ceilings and walls was done by a true craftsman, reviving the building with more than a casual nod to keeping the original structure and character of the building intact. And with great success.