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Allô, allô, Bonjour!

"Saturday evening 13th of October, 8.36 pm. The pickers have left. Our men are wrecked but satisfied as they survey the cuves, now brimming with wine. C'est fini. Chateau la Tulipe de la Garde's 2012 harvest is safe and sound in the tanks."

This was the last line of last month's report on the harvest. What has come of our hard won grapes since then? How are they now?

Allez, on y va!


In this issue of Slurp!

Wine making

Macho mushrooms

New Slurp book

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Wine making

Before revealing these compelling events, I want to clear up a misunderstanding. People often think that the choice of materials in the wine making process reflects the style of the wineboer. Stainless steel is hip, oak is old school. This is incorrect. It's not a case of either/or; most self-respecting wine makers would use both.

Here we go. But beware, because those very same grapes that we have spoilt and pampered all year long while they were still on the vines, will now be subjected to a series of inhumane treatments. Having passed the strict health and ripeness checks at the sorting table, the remaining high-quality grapes are locked into stainless steel vats 50 hectolitres in content.

Tightly packed together they squeeze themselves with their own weight. The yeast bacteria that live on the grape skins have been waiting all year for this moment of weakness. With gluttonous grunts they pounce on the innocent grapes. In their millions they feast on the sugar contained in the flesh of the grapes, to excrete it later as alcohol.

But the red merlot-rascals don't give up easy. Heroically fighting in the darkness of the cuves they resist with all their might. The temperature rises, the mass of juice and pulp and skin starts bubbling and foaming and the cuves are getting hot. Hot enough to be able to feel it on the outside of the tanks.   This battle to the death is called 'pre-fermentation'. What happens after is cruel, bordering on sadism. Slurp readers with a sensitive soul should be advised not to read on. Just go and do something else.

Here it comes, but please keep this under your hat because if this gets out we could get sued by the Grape Liberation Front or the Grape Defence League; if the fermentation process is slowed down, the wine will develop more fruit flavours. You can slow down the fermentation by cooling the juice.   So we have kitted out our cuves with a cooling system. While behind the steel front the combat between the grapes and their assailants rages on unabated, we bring down the temperature to 4 degrees Celsius. To prolong the grapes' struggle with death as long as possible.

After about a week we begin to heat up the tanks. Maliciously to just under 32 degrees Celsius. And not a single degree over, because the bacteria cannot survive temperatures higher than 32?C. Because of this unexpected assistance the bacteria win the battle and the real fermentation can start.   During this slow demise of the grapes we suck all their juice from the bottom of the cuves and pour it back on top of the skins. This so called 'remontage' extracts even more fruit, more colour and more tannins from the skins.

After a series of actions that take about six weeks the fresh wine is released from her stainless steel penitentiary and transferred to French oak barrels.

There, finally free of aggressors like bacteria, oenologists and a mad moustache wearing a beret, they finally find peace. In the timeless slumber of the cellar they are granted twelve months to dream, rest, ripen and grow ever more delicious.


Drink me! Drink me!

The wine we made two years ago, Chateau la Tulipe de Garde 2010, has put all these cruelties long since behind her and has been bottled in all her magnificence. Yearning to be drank you can hear her tapping against the glass. 'Dear Slurp-readers, drink me, drink me, I am as soft as shantung silk!'

Château la Tulipe de Garde 2010 is exclusively available through De Wijnbeurs.

For a box of 6 bottles:
Cliquez ici to order.

For a wooden caisse of 12 bottles:
Cliquez ici to order.


Macho Mushrooms

It's as if they sense it: as soon as the wine has been put in the barrels, mushrooms begin to pop up all over the castle grounds. A potentially delicious free meal, generously offered by Mother Nature. But, which ones are suitable to eat? And more importantly: which ones are not?! According to our local butcher these are Clouettes and eating them could do you no harm. But then again, butcher Jean-Marc hasn't exactly received the best picks from the tree of knowledge.   These have to be Castle Mushrooms, delectable. Although there is a chance that perhaps it's a specimen of the so-called Bald Ink-cap. Not immediately harmful but for days after consumption you cannot drink even a drop of wine. A truly abhorrent idea indeed.

This splinter cell is marked with the sign of the red clover; so they're probably all right. Unless it's a band of Sulphur Tufts, consumption of which leads to convulsions, paralysis and blindness.   Ha! An Umbrella Mushroom. A gnome tries to make himself scarce but is betrayed by his red pointy cap. Edibility of this one is dubious, there's got to be a good reason for the little chap to run off like that.

The merry winemaker assumes most mushrooms to be edible in principle. But, having learned from previous experiences that have brought him face to face with death more than once, he takes a camera on his foraging expeditions. Take a photo, look it up in 'The mushroom encyclopedia' and then: a la cuisine! Bingo! Looking good: the long-stemmed Camembert mushroom.

The wineboer jumps up uttering a cry of joy. 'The Large Ink Cap!' Its stem can be fried and is considered to be a strong aphrodisiac. The simple peasant has found himself face to face with the infamous Viagra mushroom! He rushes off to inform the lady of the manor.   After having digitalized the libidinous looking mushrooms, she's keen to pick a few. However the perverted agriculturalist obstructs her: 'Let's leave them for another night. Their effect will be even more impressive that way!'

But when the lascivious grape grazer returns the following day he is bitterly disappointed. The resplendent chamber shrooms have been dissolved into dreary blobs of oozing black sludge. Yet again our glutton misses the boat.

But most clouds have a silver lining; in another part of the castle grounds, the wineboer finds a forest crop that he instantly recognizes: Cepes! Or Porcino mushrooms. See below for a recipe of cepes and roast duck.

Assemble cepes, potatoes, onions, garlic, a duck, a handful of duck sausages, and some thick rashers of bacon and take to the cuisine.

Ask the person who is residing there to cut, peel and chop the aforementioned, put it in a casserole dish and slide that in to the oven

Let them slice the cepes and fry them.

Ask someone in the dining area to make the table and then leisurely descend to the cave and take your time to select a delicious wine.   In this case we have chosen a locally prohibited type about which we shall say no more.

Ask the kitchen crew to grill a bowl of courgettes, pumpkin and croutons and serve with the main course.

Voila: cepes with duck, accompanied by a perfect Bxxxxxxxe. Do not eat the rashers that were introduced earlier. After having donated their flavour to the duck and the mushrooms they will progress their career in the bin.

A new Slurp book- the making of the cover
Right. It's finished; it's in the stores. Twelve months of chateau life bottled in a book. I wouldn't want to compare it directly to the construction of the Burma railway but still, it wasn't easy. And when it's finally finished, you're still not done. Because a book needs a cover. A look behind the scenes.

Uitgever Bruna is van mening dat de grijpreflex Publishing company Bruna is of the opinion that the grabbing reflexes of a potential buyer will be stimulated most of all by a cover that exudes 'The French Life' in all it's heavenly idleness. In order to strengthen the unsuspecting book-buyer's impression of the French idyll, a life that's made up solely of eating and drinking wine, we need to do up a tempting looking table.   The wineboer decides to seize this opportunity to insert some subtle product placement. Out of old habit he begins to push his bouteilles into shot. With the aid of respectively; flattery, praise and threats of revocation of her love, photographer Caroline manages to negotiate the amount of bottles back down to one, after which the mood calms down and the photo shoot can commence.

A set up like this in bright sunlight (34°C) results in rock solid facial shadows and French cheeses that begin to abandon the set entirely independently. The rustic tableau vivant is hastily moved into the umbrage.

The stand-in that has been flown in specially from the Ukraine takes his position and quickly takes a picture to text it to his Baboeshka.   And we're glad for it because in this unique shot we see how Maitre de chai Philippe uses an opened-out pizza box to beam some extra light onto the shady features of the expensive wine-maker lookalike.


Château Slurp
: Enjoying life for the advanced Epicurean.

After God created France he saw that it was beautiful. Perhaps a little too beautiful actually. To compensate he created the French.

Château Slurp; A.W. Bruna; 272 pagina's; € 14,95


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