After 26 glorious months of living in the Languedoc it is time to return to the UK. Temporarily.
It has been, without question the happiest time of my life. I love the region and all it has to offer. We have been made most welcome by local people, friends and neighbours. Martin and May Colfer have become the closest of friends despite me persuading them to pick grapes one day.
Afshin and Denise Hosseiny have also become great friends this year and, together with Jill McGregor (another grape picker!) have been very generous in allowing us to store things in their homes. And that is the guarantee that we will be back. The house hunt continues and it is our aim to have a home here as soon as possible.
Most of all though this has been the most wonderful opportunity to learn about wine, vines and the people involved. The local winemakers could not have been more helpful but, of course it is the team of Mas Coutelou who have become my great friends. The wonderful Michel, the most generous, kind and lovely man. Julien, shy, good fun and caring. Vincent, knowledgeable, witty and kind. Carole, who took me under her wing when I first arrived during the vendanges of 2014 and taught me so much. Charles and Thomas both youthful, energetic but welcoming to this old man. Cameron and James, two Australians who became friends and who earned everyone’s respect with their hard work and humour. Priscilla, Tina, Céline, Brice, Jérom, Karim, the Rugbymen and so many others – thank you. Friendship makes life worthwhile.
We were also fortunate to get to meet Jean – Claude and to pass some lovely times with him, he will stay in our memories.
During that first few weeks I remember Jeff telling me the story of the Chaud Doudou, a fable about the need to work together and support each other. It is a story which embodies him and the people who work for him. Jeff is the most generous of men who loves nothing more than sharing his passion for nature and wine. When Vincent Pousson described him as the last of the left wing vignerons he was referring to Jeff’s sharing and low prices. And it was a most apt description. Pat and I cannot begin to recount the number of kindnesses he has shown us and the care he has taken of us. He is the truest of friends and we love him. He goes to the last drop of his energy to make his wines the best they can be, they reflect his energy, vitality and generosity.
And, of course, there is the most beautiful dog in the world. Icare.
From planting to pruning to picking and pigeage I have been fortunate to see and have a go at it all. And, best of all, to taste and revel in those peerless Coutelou wines.
This is not the end of the story, we shall be back in January for a few weeks and then for a few months in spring. Jeff’s motto of «Grapes, Work and Love» will continue to motivate this blog which will continue. It began as a way for me to record my experiences, it has more than achieved its goals. Thank you for reading it, there are now readers in 131 countries at a rate of up to 12,000 per day, way beyond anything I ever imagined.
At present I have a heavy heart at leaving this beautiful place, but Mas Coutelou and the Languedoc will draw me back.
With special thanks to Pat for allowing all this to happen and for falling in love with the region as well.