It’s a long time since I (or any of us) were addressed as “élèves”; it brought me a smile and fleeting feeling of youth when our host M. Lafargue at his Ferme Auberge welcomed the “élèves d’Oxford” to his unpretentious salle à manger for a high quality lunch created from his own produce.
Before this long and sociable repast, 20 OUS members, partners and guests assembled in the bijou village of Lagraulet du Gers, admired the rather bizarre water-tower-cum work-of-art (now a gîte) and shivered in the unseasonal cold, before the main event.
Mme. Martine welcomed us to the chai of Domaine le Grand Chemin and explained patiently the processes involved in creating vintages of Vieil Armagnac (no blended versions here) before warming us up with a tasting session. Apéros made from eau de vie and Schweppes, a 2002 and a 1985 Armagnac, and canapés of rilletes, were all plentiful and well received.
The restoration of a ruined chateau in the heart of the village is nearing completion and is soon to open as a four-star hotel “Castel Pierre”; we were invited inside to admire the quality of materials and workmanship by the enthusiastic (if naïve?) young couple who had put two years labour and a princely sum into the project.
Our thanks are offered to Kathy Jarman, who has had her holiday home nearby for 25 years, for organising the visit and making it a success.