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Once upon a time, I worked in a lovely hidden gem of a wine store in Atlanta.
 
Don't you love stories that start out like that....you know it is going to be a fantastical story.
 
I was working in the evenings surrounded by delicious Old World wines, listening to the classes, teaching a few classes and learning even more wine than I already knew. Sitting in on the afternoon meetings, I would listen to the distributors explain the wine and why the store should have it on the shelf. That gave me a different viewpoint than what I had read in "Wine Spectator" or from a wine expert who had written a book.
 
One afternoon one of the distributors called me and in a very resolute and determined voice told me that I needed to quickly get myself to the store so that I could meet the vineyard owner of one of the wines we carried.
 

That meeting turned into a wonderful friendship that has carried on for years. One of my reasons for being in France was to see their operations first hand. I mean really, be here in the heart of Bordeaux and not visit a friend's vineyard?!? That would be committing vino treason!

Jean Thomas came to pick me up the morning that his mother had an hour to spare to show me around the vineyard. He mentioned that she was a bundle of nerves about our meeting, what she didn't know was that I was even more nervous. I do like impressing a friend's parents at first glance and I knew that our language differences wouldn't make it easy.


Driving up to fields of grapes, as far as the eye could see, and the Belle of the Vineyard ball, the Chateau itself suddenly made bold and out-going me feel about the size of a butterfly. Instantly.
 
The Chateau was built in the days when the world was thought to be flat and our country only a faint possibility in the Pilgrim's imaginations. It towered in front of me; Dominique smiling warmly greeted me at the gate.
 
We instantly hit it off and she started pointing out a variety of treasures, from the lemon trees to flowers, the architectural details to the landscape. As a designer and wine lover, I was in heaven and kept prying for more.
 
We started down the dirt road towards the fields of vines.  Happened upon Bernard, her husband, and stopped the two of them for a picture. And continued along with the one who probably knows the lay of the land better than any other...the family dog.

The detail to nature and the care they take with the vines showed through as I looked across the landscape. Instead of burning the pruned off pieces of vine, they have machinery that chops it into mulch and reenters into the soil cycle providing more nutrients for the dirt.
 
The vine stock. The mother that provides all of the succulent grapes that go into the creation of the nectar of the gods. I snapped picture after picture. The bare elegance of it, vacant of the leaves and grapes, showed the texture and strength. The dormancy required to tend to itself and prepare for the next season.
 
And a place where many a worker gets lost in meditation while tending to the grapes, the tractor. I know that from experience, I grew up on a horse farm driving one of those around in circles after we had baled acres and acres of hay bales.


As we finished up the tour, I spotted my favorite sign of a land-loving gardener....a pair of wellies. This chateau was such a warm and inviting home.
 
She finished up the tour by uncorking a bottle of the Entre-Deux-Mers, my favorite of any white wine that is produced. Her favorite from having grown up surrounded by the vines and learning exactly how to tweak the essences of the juice to create the perfect bottle.
 
There is more to show you of Chateau Vignol - the architectural elements that caught my eye and their wines. Keeping reading the articles to find out more!

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copyright 2011-2017 Loxley Browne

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