Having spent an extremely pleasant 75 minutes or so at Dégustation Melting Potes 2, it was time to say goodbye to my friend Peter Gorley and for Bernard and I to make a dash for our hotel in Marseillan. After a quick shower, there was no time to lose before heading off to Montpellier, for the launch party of Vinifilles. This is an organisation which exists (as the name suggests) in order to promote and further the cause of the many female winemakers in the Languedoc and Roussillon regions. You can read a fuller description of Vinifilles and their aims on Juliet Bruce Jones' Tales From Languedoc Wine Country blog.
The venue for the party was the Jam club. Due in no small part to the chaotic (i.e. largely unfinished) new road system in this suberb of Montpellier, we had the Devil's own job just finding the place. Despite the best efforts of our TomTom satellite navigation device, we spent a good 20 minutes circling the venue, without managing to get closer than about half a mile away! And when we did actually find it, the parking situation was, to put it mildly, a nightmare. After what must have been another 20 minutes-worth of circling, we eventually did what every normal Frenchman would do in a flash, which was to park on the only spare piece of car-sized ground we could find and trust to luck that our hire car would still be in one piece (or at least still there) when we returned.
By the time we walked into the venue, it was around 9 pm and the party had been in full swing for ages and a band was busy playing in the main room, which consisted of a bar, hot buffet and a stage with literally hundreds of people milling about. It was certainly hectic (as was the wine tasting area in an adjacent room) but there was a great atmosphere, and it was good to see so many people there to support the event. Although Bernard and I hadn't eaten since arriving at Peter's house in the afternoon, we didn't go hungry, as there seemed to be an inexhastable supply of hot buffet food to dip into. Several small portions of delicious spiced chicken and pork and noodles went down very nicely, in the absence of a proper evening meal.
The 18 members of Vinifilles, relaxing with a drink, before the party kicked-off
(image courtesy of Louise Hurren)
The tasting room was thronging, with a huge table in the middle of the room laid out with what must have been in excess of 100 different wines available for tasting. It was a bit chaotic, at least by the time we got there, and it was basically a case of helping yourself to whatever wines took your fancy. Naturally, I took the opportunity to taste the ranges from the two members of Vinifilles whose wines I sell, namely Laeticia Pietri-Clara of Domaine Pietri-Geraud and Véronique Etienne at Chateau La Dournie. Laeticia's Banyuls wines are especially noteworthy, whilst Véronique makes wonderfully expressive, terroir-laden Saint-Chinians - and, it must be said, very feminine wines. Not that all of the wines on show were made in such a feminine style - in fact there were a good few wines which (to my palate, at least) came across as rich, ripe and pretty full-on. Maybe it was just that we were at the end of a very tiring day (which began around 20 hours earlier, remember) but I came away with the feeling that, whilst some of these ladies are making some really elegant(and even feminine) wines, others are making the sort of wines that will be appreciated by lovers of the big, bold, super-concentrated style. All-in-all, an excellent event, and a nice way to finish a very busy day! For the full list of members of Vinifilles, see the Vinifilles website.
Incidentally, it was also nice to meet up and have a quick chat with Ryan O'Connell, of O'Vineyards, who is doing such excellent work with his Love That Languedoc video blog. Keep up the good work, Ryan!