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Allô, allô, Bonjour!

The right to happiness has been set down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But that's not to say that happiness will just come breezing into your life.
In this issue of Slurp! you'll find a some tips for a happy life.

Happiness, dear friends, is Focus. Picture a child sticking out his tongue in concentration as he draws a picture. If you are absorbed in what you are doing, you are happy. So read this Slurp with full attention and feel yourself getting happier.

Allez, à l'attaque!


In this Slurp!


Slurping and spitting

Mise en Bouteille au Château




Now that we have established this, we're set to go. Again Focus!
But now a focus on our own ambition. You don't have one? Find one. What do you like doing?

Growing onions? Baking cakes? Listening to music? Writing books?
In all of these things- and in many more- you can excel. You can even successfully make a living out of them. Because it doesn't matter what you do. As long as you do it wholeheartedly. Then you will be happy.

The past month required us to dig deep and get into some serious Focus more than once. It all started with the 'Mise en Bouteille', capturing the vintage in a bottle.

Slurping and spitting

This month our wine was being bottled; at every winery the second most important event of the year. For two years the wines of our 32 separate mini vineyards have been pampered individually. But now that the bottling is drawing closer, these wines are lifted from their little oak cradles and their 32 distinctive flavours will be amalgamated to one single Millésime: 'Château la Tulipe de la Garde 2011'.


This amalgamation is a type of alchemy. By selecting only the very best barrels and by using a varied blend of wood lagering, type of barrique and proportion of cepage, we try and create gold. As could be seen in Slurp 53 we attempted this last month and failed. So we started again. We sacrificed our precious top cuvee 'Troismille' and assembled 11 different wine personalities.

  Voilà, from these eleven contenders one winner will rise- the vintage 2011. To make sure we don't discriminate, the bottles remain anonymous. In order to guarantee that not every single sample is described as 'Nice, but with a hint of Fairy liquid', oenologists Paul and Bruno risk their expert professional noses and subject the empty glasses to a ruthless scent test.

Glistening with temptation the eleven divas try to seduce us, but we're still not allowed to have any: to eliminate even the faintest whiff of kitchen aroma, dishcloth smell or cupboard must, the glasses are rinsed first. Using wine, naturally.

None of this is particularly pleasant. Professional wine tasting is an anti-social affair. In order to achieve maximum focus, the decision making process is carried out in a state of autistic apathy.   Turning your back on each other, walking away frowning, brusquely spewing a stream of wine onto the gravel, it's all part of the experience.

You take a sip of wine and attempt to make sense of the flurry of complex, contradictory sensations that swirl through your being. Of course this often turns out to be futile. Describing wine is like trying to catch a block of slippery soap when you're in the shower. Or catching a moth blindfolded. Coming out with a 'not bad' after every sip is not particularly helpful either. So it is of vital importance to input all your data into the computer as quickly as you can. Paul takes advantage of the wineboer's moment of weakness to fill up his favourite assemblage.   But the wineboer is not to be derailed. Like machinegun fire he rattles his emotions onto his digital external brain.

A tight focus is not an easy thing to maintain if you are surrounded by a horde of such wildly spattering professional slurpers.   The wineboer makes a narrow escape from a powerful jet of rejected assemblage.


Contrary to French custom we are not finished until long after the Repas de midi has started. But, to paraphrase Michelangelo: 'the statue has been set free from the stone'; the winning assemblage has been found. The 'Mise en Bouteille' can begin!

Mise en Bouteille au Château

The above qualification on a label gives the impression that the chateau in question owns a private bottling plant. But such a luxury is reserved only for Grand Cru's. An extravagant fitting like that, used only once a year, is not a fertile investment for a small-scale wine producer. So most wineries use travelling bottling plants.

On the morning of the 3rd of June, at 07.02am the château is invaded by an armoured division of Embouteillage Baylet. The ancient castle is entirely concealed by an expandable wine factory and a towering wall of empty bottles.

Bottle platoons advance toward the castle, but in spite of the early hour the wineboer's lover Caroline is ready for battle. Fearlessly she has entered the head quarters of the invaders to bring their manoeuvres into sharp focus.

Hoses are unwound and attached to the Cuves that contains our victorious lovechild.

At 8.49 am the mobile bottling unit is ready for attack. Now we wait for the arrival of lieutenant general Jean-Claude.   In the morning sunshine the empty bottles yearningly reach out from their packaging. 'Please can we be filled up' Here and there an empty box has broken free from the masses and made its way to the front: 'Can I go first?'

Just as the drowsy forklift driver Luigi is about to doze off, the castle gravel squeals under the tires of bottling commander Jean-Claude. His troops give him a hesitant round of applause.

'À l'Attaque!' Jean Claude gives the signal. He is in charge of the filling of the first tranche of bottles. This needs to be set in the base sequence of the hexi-decimal system that, just like the binary system, plays an important part in information technology.

But alas. After just sixteen bottles and alarm call sounds. Stop! The rivet of the little latch on the peg of the box-rolling-system turns out to be slightly percolated.

Bottle polisher Martine doesn't mind, now at last she has another chance to enjoy Johnny Halliday on the headphones.   Irritably Jean-Claude looks down on his kneeling colleagues. 'Can we finally get a move on?!'

The machine catches, the familiar rattling symphony starts up again. But not for long. After another 230 bottles the washer of the bolt of the screw on the tape dispenser gives up the ghost.

Dreamily overlooking the abounding garden of the medieval fairy tale castle, Martine hums along with the music 'Pour moi la vie va commencer...' But whether these lyrics are strictly speaking true?   The bags of castle corks have drifted off to sleep. Above their heads the bottles stand frozen in mid-movement.

'Ha!' the capsules think. 'Last chance to get a bit of a tan!' as they roll over to face the sun.   The technical crew diligently fiddles on. Always following the French operating principle where one person tells the other what to do only for the other person to do something completely different.

Forklift driver Luigi starts his 3478th game of Angry Birds.   Fearfully the wineboer caresses bottle number 0000001, like a mother would her firstborn. The wait is long.

A booming roar announces the arrival of manager Paul. 'Has the bottle pressure been measured yet?' He barks, striding onto the arena.   Trembling with fear staff sergeant Jean-Marie shows him the results: a pressure of 11.9.

'That means nothing to me!' the agitated château manager bellows. 'I need to see at least twelve bottles! Chop chop!'   The bottle pressure turns out to be satisfactory. But just as the bottling machine is about to be activated the wineboer lets out a shriek of terror. 'The weapon on the cork! The chateau name is missing from it!!!'

ilja paul
While the wineboer wipes the tears of his weathered cheeks, a concerned Paul deliberates in fluent Portuguese with the Euro zone Gaza strip.   The next day 86.827 farm-fresh corks arrive promptly. But now the cardboard boxes have to make way for an emergency order from the Wine fair. At 9am a well trained SWAT wine-crate-assembly-team arrives.

Unfortunately there is a slight delay. The dowel of the rod of the latch of the wine-crate-assembly-machine appears reluctant. Via a direct satellite connection with head-quarters wine crate gynaecologist Jean- Francois performs endoscopic surgery.   'Ça Marche!' roars Jean-Claude after an hour and a half. 'Everyone in position!' But just as he is about to hit the red button, the wineboer lunges forward.''The inserts!' he pants in fright. 'I don't see any inserts!'

'They should have been here months ago! Where did we get them printed again?' Maitre de chai Philippe hastily calls the printer. ,` met de drukker.

After an hour and a half the printer has personally delivered the papers by Deux Cheveaux. We're good to go.   The machine is turned on and carefully the crates are filled with perfectly turned out bottles of Château la Tulipe de Garde 2011.

Including the 'tin snail' delivered inserts.

Just as the wineboer establishes contentedly that his cellar is filling up quite nicely, an ear splitting Tarzan howl resounds.   'Les Etiquettes!!!'
Yet again the machine falls silent. Shaking their heads Eline and Joëlle take a few already labelled bottles back from the belt. An inconsistency has been identified between the stick-on-height of the back label in regards to the level of the front label.

Expert labelologist Jean-Francois rearranges the exact running of the turning-bench-wheel. A lengthy job that requires a lot of precision.
In his boredom forklift driver Luigi gives us a demonstration of his reversing-backwards-blindly-while-balancing-on-two-back-wheels skills.

But when the sun sets out on her journey home, the wall of bottles has been slain. The last 600 bottles are filled, labelled and boxed.

The bottling platoon packs up and races off as if they were chased by the devil himself. Recklessly overtaking each other on the bumpy castle drive they rush home.

Finally. Everyone is gone. A silence descends over the castle as if a thousand birds fall still at once.

'Hurray!' Philippe cheers. 'Look; we ordered exactly enough corks. We've only got four left over!'   Wrecked and exhausted the wineboer locks the castle gate behind him. Mission accomplished. The harvest has been bottled, the wine is in the bottle. The wineboer can now shift his Focus. With a contented heart he directs the concentrated beam of his ambitions on a new goal: a nice cold beer.

filmpje Cliquez ici for a romanticised version of the Mise en Bouteille
(Cliquez on the image below)
  If the movie doesn’t play properly, cliquez ici

This year our wines won nine different medals at various international wine competitions.
Cliquez ici for the line-up.


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Allez, Wholeharted Santé et à l'Attaque!

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Château la Tulipe de la Garde 2009
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