The title's a bit dramatic, isn't it? I suppose it must be my melodramatic side coming out, but it did feel like it yesterday afternoon. Not drowning in rain, but drowning in a sea of people.
I strongly dislike crowds. If I were to be asked in a survey about my feelings towards crowds based on numbers one to seven where one is 'Don't give a shit' and seven is 'Strongly dislike', I'd go for eight 'For fuck's sake, get me outta here!'
So, what the hell was I doing in town on a Saturday afternoon, Dec 1, Christmas shopping countdown, nice weather, etc.? Well, it was the annual Fête du Vin and it's traditional for me to go with pal B from work. So I braved the hoards of overly made-up teenage girls, hoody-clad youths, raving university students and others of a more normal allure.
We started off buying Advent calenders for the boys. Not ones with crappy chocoloate in, or Playmobil bits 'n' bobs, or Action Man or any other completely manipulative attempt to spend even more dosh on our little darlings BEFORE Christmas. No, I found two which relate the story of Christmas, you know, the one with Mary and Joseph. It's difficult to remember the point of Christmas these days...
Having been successful, we then made our way to the wine glasses booth to buy our wine glass and 3 tokens for the princely sum of 2Eur. You're supposed to give a token each time you taste the wine, but many producers allow one token for two people, or even one token for two people tasting their full range! We like those places best!
As night fell, the whole of the Place de la Comedie twinkled and sparkled, not only with the tasteful Christmas lights, but the effect of the wine in people's eyes. The atmosphere was terrific with merry folk happy that they were not being ripped off, happy that they had fabulous wine to taste and happy that they could enjoy themselves outside in a temperate climate mooching from booth to booth without freezing or getting soaked.
We tasted at three excellent booths: Domaine Desvabre at Montferrier sur Lez (just down the road), Domaine Henry at St Georges d'Orques (our fave) and Domaine de Pailletrice at Perols. We also tried some organic white wine which tasted like vinegar so I won't bother to mention them.
Domaine Desvabre had a delicious light red which can be drunk in summer, lightly chilled instead of rosé. I must admit it was very good, and not a poor excuse for a heavier red which you have to chill to take away the bitter taste!
Domaine Henry produces the fabulous Mailhol wine made with ancient cépages using ancient techniques. It's different, authentic and beautifully fruity.
Domaine de Pailletrice was this year's 'find'. Everything we tasted had won a medal and quite rightly too. You have to go their domaine to buy the wine. I gathered that it's not commercialised through wine outlets.
So, having drowned in the sea of humanity, we then pickled ourselves with a tip top selection of wine, and rounded off our fun afternoon with dinner at L'Entretemps, 4 rue du Puits des Esquilles in Montpellier (04.67.58.97.42). We had the menu at 30Eur which was a winner with a varied array of delicate dishes including foie gras, scallops, magret de canard, gazpacho and apple Speculoos crumble. The waitress is an odd looking lass - face piercings all over the place, totally baggy trousers and a Mao-type shirt. Pal B said this meant only one thing... and she did only really address me...
Recommended (86Eur for two including wine and aperitif).