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Allô, allô, Bonjour!

Voilà, a lazy summer Slurp covering my new TV show Gort à la Carte, delicious food and our stay in a heartbreakingly beautiful old ruin.

Allez, on y va!

In this Slurp!
Grape harvest 2014
Diva behaviour
Le Vieil Hopital
So, can we get anything to eat over there?


Grape harvest 2014


Because of the fickle weather that hit us in June and August, we decided to put off this year's harvest for as long as possible. This is in itself good news, as a delayed harvest means more sunshine hours (which means wine that's even tastier than normal).
The only downside is that it is now logistically impossible to invite all those enthusiastic Dutch grape pickers that had volunteered their services.


This year we will harvest the grapes at Château la Tulipe de la Garde with our local people who can start at short notice.
But luckily every wine year is different, so I am hoping we will be able to do next year's harvest with a Dutch equipe.

Diva behaviour


For the shoot of our new TV show, entitled Gort à la Carte, the broadcaster banished us to Provence for a protracted stay. I know, it was a bitter pill to swallow... and it shouldn't surprise us that this led to a number of situations in which an out of control grape grower nearly brought the lives of his camera crew to an untimely end with his temerarious driving style.


In the picture above we see how soundman Mike (what's in a name?!) narrowly escapes the impending anchorman.


This scene took six takes!

Even more disasters occurred




During a visit to the dreamy little village of Saint-Barthélemy-en-Provence our winemaker was at it again: charmed by the fetching baker-lady Céline, he would not back down until he had offered her a proof copy of his latest book.
'Why?' you may wonder. As just like all other French people, Céline speaks nothing but French.
But the capable boulangère took the advances of the forward winegrower in her stride and posed patiently for a photograph with the vanity stricken ink-slinger.
'A book!' she cooed coyly. 'Oh you're so smart! Did you buy that all by yourself?'



The most common word in advertising is 'New'. Understandably so, because New is Hot. New tastes good: a new day, new ideas, a new lover.


But how long does new stay new? In the case of a new car that exciting scent of newness evaporates ever so quickly. From that moment on it is 'as good as new'.
After that: 'less than a year old'. Sounds youthful enough but the word 'old' has already crept in.


What about a new lover? I once read somewhere that things start going downhill when you no longer try to keep in your farts in her presence. Either way, a solid new lover lasts longer than a new car. One thing however must always be old.


A house. A house has to be old. Our château in Bordeaux for example, is very old. And we make sure to keep it that way. Lovely and old. Old and beautiful.



This castle wall tells a story of a 700-yearlong battle for existence. So we make every effort to leave it well alone.
In my quest for a French abode to live in, I visited dozens of candidates and interestingly enough most of them turned out to be inhabited by folk that were clearly of a very different aesthetic persuasion than myself.

Many of these gorgeous ancient castles had been rigorously ruined by their dedicated owners.
With our mouths agape and our eyes aflutter we walked through interiors that gave off the impression that Donald Trump lived there with Christina Aguilera.


For years now we have been living happily in our centuries-old wine castle. Of course when the ravages of time gnaw away at her a little too eagerly, we intervene. But always in such a way that it remains invisible. Otherwise we leave her lovingly alone.


Some places benefit from climatologically favourable locations and are better suited to such a laissez-faire approach than others. In Provence, where the sun always shines, it doesn't matter a damn.


Hence the picturesquely peeling paint on the shutters, the wistfully faded doors and the trees and shrubbery that grow unencumbered from the gutters.
In preparation for the shooting of Gort à la Carte we stayed in some very special lodgings.

Le Vieil Hopital

In the sleepy village of Caromb there is very little to do. Lovely. Sauntering over to the little bakery, a little cup of coffee in the Bar de la Poste, a little bit of shopping at the little local grocery shop. All these little pleasures make up the deliciously lazy little life over there.


We stay in the most extraordinary "Guest house" (as the owners call it) we have ever laid our weary heads to rest.


Push open the heavy oak door and enter a different dimension. Timeless silence, bygone eras. With a resounding thud the door closes behind you and you find yourself alone with portière Isabelle.


The unusual thing about this sixteenth century village hospital is that the owners have only renovated half of it. You can still, like the nuns used to do centuries ago, use the rope to abseil to the bathroom.


For the slightly meeker willed among us, the rooms are accessible via the pleasantly time-worn stairwell.


When the money ran out, the renovation was abandoned. This resulted in rooms with a fence instead of a fourth wall. Which has a lovely airy effect.


A fig tree merrily peers into the room, so every now and then a soft green fig makes a smooth landing on your head.


In the dining room, the collapsed ceilings, walls and windows were left in disrepair which allows the vegetation to stick its head through the window and grow into the room. None of this is a bother in sundrenched Provence.


This room has such a heartbreakingly gorgeous floor that one barely dares set foot on it.


For the velophiles amongst you: Mont Ventoux!


So, can we get anything to eat over there?

Yes. Some great food in fact. In the neighbouring village Crillon-Le-Brave at the restaurant of Michelin starred chef Jérôme Blanchet.


However make sure not to book a table in the pompous main restaurant but ask whether there is any space in his neighbouring bistrot. There you'll enjoy the same gastronomic quality for half the price. And, again for half the price, you'll enjoy the same fairytale beautiful view.


A view that not only caresses the soul, but also confronts you with a poignant life-lesson. Gasping for breath with all this beauty, your eyes glide along the soft green curves that extend to the horizon. The apricot coloured evening light sets the vineyards and forests aglow as far as the eye can see. Here and there the landscape is interspersed with white stone cottages and clusters of Cypress trees rising heavenward.
The horizon is made up of the sleeping tiger, Mont Ventoux, and beyond that the blue sky gradually fades to delicate shades of white. And then suddenly...

Ouch! Without warning he swats at your face with his sharp claws. Tall and luridly yellow he rips apart your field of vision. The 'Grue'.


When we, while he pours our wine, make a casual comment about it to owner Jean-François, the good-natured innkeeper recoils as if we squeezed his testicles with a pair scorching hot pliers. 'Ahhh...the Grue...' hurriedly he averts his eyes and scurries off.


Twenty-six years ago Jean-François bought this chunk of mountain with the pristine view. He invested a huge sum of money so he could realize his dream in this spot: build a hotel where his guests would want for nothing.


Naturally enough he was not interested in purchasing the adjacent ruin. However, a week after he signed the sales contract, a Parisian property developer bought that ruin for the nominal fee of one Franc; with the obligation to renovate it. The very first investment that this daredevil made was the acquisition of an 80-meters tall bright yellow Grue.
A Grue that has been disfiguring Jean-François' paradisiacal view for 26 years now.

So there you have it, dear friends, panoramas are not for sale.

  Allez, wholeharted Sante!



You can find Château la Tulipe de la Garde Bordeaux Superieur exclusively at Sainsbury's supermarkets.
Cliquez ici for more information.

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