Arriving at our usual winery just a little past the precious French lunch hour, I was hoping Monsieur Cartier would still be there to hear my knock. He trotted in from the garden, wiping a doubtlessly excellent ‘p’tite sauce’ off his chin with a linen napkin, excusing himself and explaining that they were eating early. They were all starving as they had started picking the grapes that day and the mistral made it hard work.
“No ,quite the contrary, monsieur! Excuse ME for arriving at your meal time.”
“Etes-vous en panne?” he asked, a smile teasing its way out of the side of his mouth unencumbered by remains of his midday repast.
Literally translated in the average French phrasebook under the motoring section as “Have you broken down?” here it obviously meant ‘have your supplies of wine run out and are you therefore unable to function normally? I can fix that for you. Don’t you worry’.
I was on my way back from another Domaine, the ‘Domiane du Mourchon’ , where I had just had a very exciting meeting. It has always been my dream to start a festival of music in the vines, and indeed to twin it one day with one in California. Suddenly last week, having sat on the idea for the last four years, keeping it nice and warm, I knew it was time.
My colleagues in the orchestra leapt at the suggestion like convicts suddenly allowed to run naked in a garden because, to tell the truth, we were all feeling a little spiritually and musically ‘en panne’. Months without the opportunity to have one’s own unadulterated response to the music, months without the right to one’s own gesture and being contracted, essentially, to follow the gesture and the interpretation of the section leader who, in turn, is following that of the conductor was starting to depress us. But that’s playing in an orchestra, and we know it. Rather than gripe and grunge, it was, we decided over a weizenbier, time to take responsibility and to de-panne ourselves.
The McKinlays were very enthusiastic. My suggested dates in April correspond exactly to the launch of their rosé and it will be just the kind of publicity they need. We will play Haydn quartets amongst shining stainless steel vats of maturing Séguret, and have the apéro looking over the new year’s crop. Maybe there will be an aioli too.