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Great wine, amazing people… and how I like my tea (day 4 of The Grape Escape)

Today’s blog is really about our visit to David and Valerie, the lovely couple who run Domaine de Valmengaux. But I think it’s only fair that I give an overview of the day as well (i.e. talk about myself!!).

I awoke quite smug, considering the success of the tenting operation. Full of bravado, it was operation tea making next. At this juncture, I’d just like to clarify that with regards to tea, I’m most definitely, certainly and always a “milk later” person. I think there is something inherently wrong with “milk first” approach to tea. And I will have trust issues if you add milk first.

Just saying … just so you know ...for when we have tea together.

Just kidding!!

Operation tea making was a success as well. Sweetened with an almond croissant for me.

Alas, the smug feeling didn’t last very long. Operation “taking down tents and folding up all paraphernalia” was a complete, total and utter disaster. It took so long that we had to postpone our meeting with the lovely David and Valerie by 2 hours.

And I’m sure by now you’ve figured out that humans were definitely harmed in this operation – only verbally though!!

Anyways, onward and upwards from there. We rode to the lush and beautiful Domaine de Valmengaux. Valerie heard our bike and directed us to the front of the house, and David was kindly waiting for us.

They have an amazing story, a story of following your passions and pursuing your dreams. And that struck resonance with us. It is exactly the same as the story of Riding Wine Co, where we are striving to live our dreams and passions.

David worked as a Financial Controller for many years and about 3 years ago, he decided that it wasn’t what he wanted to do. He had a passion for wines and so he started researching and looking at his options. He spent some time at a vineyard, learning the ropes and ensuring that he really loved being a winemaker. Convinced that this is what he wanted to do, David and 50 friends got together, formed an agricultural land grouping called Les Amis de Valmengaux and embarked on this new adventure.

David works the land himself, with very little help. His philosophy is that he wants to be close to his vines, he wants to understand them and work with nature to grow the best grapes he can. Which then he will turn into the best wine he can. He wants the wines to reflect the terroir, without the use of chemicals, to provide pleasure and emotion.

Note: Terroir is the French word for land, coming from medieval Latin terratorium. It means the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography and climate. It also refers to the characteristic taste and flavour imparted to a wine by the environment in which it is produced.

We saw the pressery and the aging casks. And David, very interestingly, is experimenting with the jarre. Which is wine aged in clay pots. This is a bit different from the Georgian qvevry, where the pot is totally immersed in the ground for wine fermentation and storage.

David is using the clay pots for ageing and the pots sit besides the ageing casks at Domaine de Valmengaux.

And David believes he will be using more of this method going forward.

Currently, David makes wines which are 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. His dream is to be able to make white wine, which was the original objective he started with.

We tasted some lovely wine, different vintages and different ageing methods i.e. cask and jarre.

They also have some fig trees, from which Valerie makes confiture. We didn’t really manage to taste any of the fig confiture this time; but we’ll definitely be asking her to save some for us on our next visit.

David and Valerie recommended we stop over at Sarlat le Canada; a beautiful town in Dordogne. We followed their advice and headed over and just before Sarlat, we took a wrong turn.

Oh, and what a beautiful wrong turn it brought us into Domme. One of the most beautiful villages of France, it occupies a splendid position high above the Dordogne river. The village is lovely and the views are breathtaking.

Being in Domme is like being in a picture postcard – beautiful architecture, paved and cobbled narrow streets, shops, restaurants and cafes.

And the people, so friendly, so charming, so sweet. Every experience we had with the people of Domme, touched my heart. First was the fellow biker who rode with us halfway to the hotel because we were unable to navigate and find our way through the multitude of one way streets. Then Julian, who helped with the rest of directions and took us for a lovely, spicy meal. Plied us with wine and cognac and lots of interesting chat.

We walked up to the hotel to end the day, our stomach filled with food and wine but importantly; our heart filled with the love, hospitality and experiences we had all day.

The world is full of amazing people; and I was grateful to meet some of those amazing people today.

Oh and just to make it clear – the world is also full of amazing wine :)

Signing off for now …come back for more and live The Grape Escape with us.

We are @ridingwineco on Instagram !!


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