Monday, September 14, 2009

Manna From Heaven?

We went for a mini break to the Loire and Burgundy when we were staying in our Normandy house this summer. One very interesting place we went to was where they produced Cremant, champagne from Burgundy if you like. Normally wine producers keep their barrels in their own cellars or caves, but this particular type of "bubbly" was made in a different way, in Caves de Bailly, which was under this hill.

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The farmers delivered their grapes at the top of the hill where they were dropped down a shaft of some sort and then assisted by a screw, pulled down into this gigantic cave (system). When you approached the cave there were not many signs to direct you, but as you got closer you saw a big hole in the limestone hillside and just drove in.

It used to be a quarry but was now dedicated to the making of sparkling wine. During the war however, the occupying German forces used it for military purposes, hence the rusty old tank greeting you.

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Then parking the car was easy and since it was a very hot day we appreciated the rather cool 12 degrees C, which made it particularly suitable for storing the five million bottles.

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The farmers left their harvest at the top of the hill and collected their bottles several years later. The grapes rained down the shaft like manna to be turned into that wonderful, sparkling liquid. Mmmm!

There is a guided tour which is very interesting, if you understand French that is. Otherwise you just have to wait until you can do some tasting and buying after the tour.

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Since the limestone is rather easy to work, sculptors had been invited to carve something out of the stone. Some works of art were somewhat more intriguing than others. The first one is not difficult to understand, but what did the artist have in mind when he created this second piece of art? Any ideas?

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4 comments:

Protege said...

Beautiful pictures! What an exciting excursion into a cave.;) I love to visit wine yards in France and have been at a few over the years. I never tasted champagne this way though.;)) Very interesting.;)

swenglishexpat said...

Protege - You have to go easy on the wine though when you are driving!

Veronica said...

Great story! Seems like the second sculptor may have tasted a little too much of the bubbly!

swenglishexpat said...

Veronica - Thank you. I think you might have found the answer!