Salt & Old Vines

By Richard W H Bray

A real taste of winemaking - true stories about a wine, the people who make it and the place it's made

Monday, 8 February 2016

Winemaking in January part 1

I’d never flown to Beziers before, but it was the only airport in the region that I could get to from London at this time of year. Like the houses around these parts, this corner of France closes its shutters in the winter.

The flight was full, but no one told the airport that, and the door to get in was locked. A sheepish looking lady ran to unlock the entrance to the terminal as the border guard in the passport cubicle tried to pretend he’d been there all along. He wiped a crumb from his moustache and looked at the glass like he was looking in a bathroom mirror after splashing water in his face first thing in the morning. 

He stamped me in and I waited there for my bag, first off. It was just a small glass partition between me and the folks waiting to greet whoever they knew off the plane. No blue queue for passengers from the EU. Just an open door. 

My bag appeared and there were no signs of a burst haggis or shattered bottle. A small cafe separated arrivals from departures and the full flight dissipated quickly to once again reveal the small emptiness of the airport. 

It was mild outside. Cool but not cold. Folks smoked and waited for their rides. I listened to podcast of Neil DeGrasse Tyson interviewing Alan Rickman and smiled sadly.

Andy and Theo picked me up and we stopped for a few cans of beer to drink on the way back to Collioure. A couple of Estrella and a couple of craft tins, one of them from Corsica. Had no idea they brewed beer on Corsica. Andy drove in the night and we caught up on the world between vintage and then. The wines were good. The new house was good. The kids were good. Theo played with Andy’s iPhone in the back seat. USAP were playing terribly but the Dragons were having a good season. Everyone’s giving up on union, moving to league, just because the team is more into it. The Sola’s closed for January. The Templiers is still mental. 

The house is up above a bunch of other houses on a cliff, along one of those roads that goes back and forth as it goes up because it would be too steep to go straight up. It’s towards the top and the end. The garage has 20 foot ceilings; you could make wine in it, if you wanted. Up two flights of stairs and the house is there, the Med before it, stretching up north towards Argelès, Canet, and Montpellier, their lights twinkling along the coast like jaundiced stars.

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