© Number 10 B & B 2016
It was a glorious day of unbroken sunshine with temperatures in the 20’s when Richard had an appointment with the anaesthetist. The weather was a real bonus for the third week in November so we decided to make the most of it and bunk off and enjoy lunch in the sun.
What could be nicer than a lovely drive out through the golden autumn countryside to the little town on Monein in the heart of the Jurançon wine region.
Himself is very fond of the sweet whites of this region, so it was an easy decision to have a glass before lunch. At the first sip his eyes closed with a smile of pure pleasure – this was a particularly delicious experience.
So it was that after a pleasant lunch at L’Estaminet, it seemed fitting that we went to find the vineyard that produced it. Domaine Nigri is not a large, perhaps intimidating chateau but none the less produces some lovely whites.
Created in 1685, it has been in the Lacoste family for four generations, producing 70,000 bottles from its 10 hectacres. Jurançon is best known for its sweet whites produced from grapes harvested late in November. However there are also some dry whites, from grapes picked earlier in the year towards the end of September.
In a outbuilding surrounded by golden bottles, we enjoyed a degustation sipping our way through their entire range, guided by a lovely lass who bizarrely hailed from Granada. It was difficult to make a selection but in the end we settled for:
Jurançon Sec “Pierre de Lune” (80 % Gros Manseng- 20% Petit Manseng)
Jurançon Doux “Pas De Deux” (40% Petit Manseng; 60% Gros Manseng)
Jurançon Doux “Prélude” (50 % Gros Manseng- 50% Petit Manseng)
Apparently they are all good wines to lay down for up to 10 years – not much chance of that happening!
The unseasonably warm weather brought to us by this wind continued. I had already started wearing a fleece while walking the dogs first thing each morning and on some colder days had been glad of my gloves.
So it was a bizarre experience to suddenly be walking the dogs in shirt sleeves breathing in the scent of a summer hay meadow. The verges had received their pre-winter cut and the grass drying in the warm air took me straight back to bale bumping many summers ago.
I know I am aging myself here as nowadays it is all done with machinery but they were good times I look back on fondly.
Added to which I cannot see ‘Elf & Safety allowing you to ride out to the hay field bouncing along with your legs swinging over the side of the trailer. No more than it would it be permissible to return perched high on the load.
Ask anyone about stereotypical French attire and the beret, along with stripped Breton jumpers, will probably spring to mind.
The South West is certainly home of the beret and we have seen more worn locally than anywhere else in France. Oloron Sainte-Marie has a factory still producing berets the traditional way. While in the town of Nay the beret is celebrated with its own museum, Musée du Béret.
However it is never worn at a rakish angle as favoured by artists and film stars. It must sit firmly on the head with sufficient over-hang to ensure it not only keeps the nose dry in the rain but shaded from the fierce summer sun.
Once again I was out walking the hounds, when a tall rather distinguished gentleman, sporting a fine ‘French’ moustache and large beret, approached from the opposite direction.
Imagine my surprise when he did something so quintessentially English and doffed his beret as he wished ‘Bonjour’. From previous experience I had been led to believe that a Frenchman’s beret has to be surgically removed each night – assuming of course that they do not also use them as a nightcaps.