terroir

the place where we are currently living is a very specific wine region called faugères. faugères is known for full bodied, deeply fruity mediterranean wines. but mostly it is known for its substrate of schist, which flakes and shatters and splits like what you see in the image above. the roots of the vines feel their way into those cracks, and dig deep for water in this dry region, and pull up lots of flavor and mineral character. sometimes we feel we are digging in deep here too, and pulling up some very authentic flavors, that will make it hard to tear ourselves loose, and head back to minnesota.

schist

autignac, france

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seasonality

they keep predicting the end of the mushroom season here as soon as “the cold arrives,” but we haven’t gotten below freezing yet, and there’s been plenty of rain. take your time, end of mushroom season. we can wait.

a colleciton of mushrooms from the garrigue

autignac, france

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one-of-a-kind gift

these are little bundles of vine stems that get tied together, and placed inside the wine vats during the fermentation process. they are positioned right behind the faucet that lets you drain the liquid from the vat. without these twigs as a filter, the grape skins would clog the faucet, and you couldn’t drain the vat. when they are removed they are stained with red wine, and smell like fermented grape must. there was a pile of them in the corner of the balliccioni winery after the vendange was over this year. “do you want those?” asked véronique. “you can use them for grilling and they give off a scented smoke.” not even steve’s french was good enough to express just how much, indeed, we wanted them.

grape vine trimmings

autignac, france

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les fleurs du mal

have you ever read a better description of that urge to flee somewhere beautiful, where the cares of the world don’t exist: “see the ships sleeping on the canals, in a vagabond mood. they have come from the ends of the earth to satisfy your least desire. setting suns cover the fields, the canals, the whole city, with hyacinth and gold . . . there all is order and beauty, calm, luxuriousness, and exquisite delight.” -Baudelaire, L’Invitation au Voyage.

chardon marie

autignac, france

  • Sylvia says:

    Amazing what a good translator can conjure….poor Cyril Scott, whose version currently inhabits my bookcase, was not up to the task.

    reply
    • You must never tell this to my husband, who already hears too often from our neighbors that he “speaks very well, the French.” But he was the impromptu translator of that passage at about 11:00 at night, after a couple of glasses of wine. Someday I will tell him what you said, and it will make him inordinately happy.

      reply

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letting nature speak

sometimes i work too hard to interpret what nature is trying to say in my images. sometimes, she says all that needs to be said. this little branch says eucalyptus from its tip to its base. in person, if you hold it under your nose, it is even more eloquent.

eucalyptus branch

cessenon-sur-orb, languedoc, france

  • Maria Hellberg says:

    Hello,

    This image is amazing, is it possible to have a high res image file for it?

    Looking forward to hearing from you!

    Best,
    Maria

    reply
  • Maria Hellberg says:

    Hi,

    We love this image, is it possible to have a high res image file for this?

    Many thanks,
    Maria

    reply

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