Member Tony Asseily and his wife Youmna gave 28 members and friends a wonderful welcome to their exceptional chateau on 1st September. We are quite well used to chateaux visits and degustations, but Tony’s urbane commentary and tour were both absorbing and informative even for the most accustomed: a demonstration of a long-term passion for wine and for the special terroir of the Biac amphitheatre, with its magnificent panorama over the Garonne.
Their almost accidental acquisition of the Biac property echoed that of many who have come to settle in our region but at a grand level. Without the cachet of the main Bordeaux appellations, Biac’s unique situation renders it capable of the finest wines, a capability restored by the Asseily family.
With everything accomplished to the highest standard, we saw the timely westerly de-leafing of the vines – Biac has six varietals in less than ten hectares, possible because of the difference in soils. This allows the wine-makers to achieve the desired quality by varying considerably the amount of each used each year.
We came to understand the meticulous attention paid to every grape at the ‘right’ time (pips are tested!). Top-class wine-makers control the creation of each vintage. We heard how important malic fermentation takes place before bottling – most leave it to take place in the bottle.
A tour of the immaculate chai preceded our testing of Biac’s two main reds and white and the ‘party’ reds and white. A generous lunch (including Youmna’s chocolate cake!) followed and we left quite late in the afternoon with very special memories and great thanks to our hosts (and of course to Marion and Pip for organisation).
On 12th August and courtesy of our member Simon Cole, long-serving former Chancellor and Gers-resident Lord Lawson gave a full dining room a lucid exposition of his view of Brexit.
He had been an early advocate of leaving the European Union, having experienced the way in which British membership impeded the reform of the British economy in the 1980s.
He was anxious to stress that, living permanently in France, this position was in no way anti-European but was simply against a political construct designed eventually to lead to a complete union. Britain had been half-in and half-out, having, in his view, correctly avoided the disastrous euro, itself designed to accelerate the political union.
We were able to ask Nigel a number of questions, some reflecting agreement with his position and others concerns aligned with the ‘Remain’ position or simply a fear of impending disaster.
Our chairman, John Baylis concluded this cordial lunch in the Hotel de Bastard in Lectoure by thanking Lord Lawson for his speech. Thanks were also due to Marion for her excellent organisation and to Simon for making the whole event possible. It was indeed a very worthwhile occasion and one to remember as Brexit advances.
John was pleased to see more members and hoped to see many of them (and guests) at the forthcoming AGM.
Marion writes and will be sending further details to members:
The Annual General Meeting of the Branch, which will be held on Tuesday 12th September 2017 in the verdant surroundings of the Villeneuve-sur-Lot Golf and Country Club. Treasurer and keen golfer Pip Kirby has kindly made all the arrangements.
A shady terrace overlooking the course is available for guests.
As this is the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Branch, it is hoped that the meeting will be well attended !
An important technical note!
Your webmaster writes:
The old web address http:ousswfrance.co.uk will cease as of the end of August and will no longer be redirected to this site, which is now at: https://ousswfrance.com.
A group of 20 alumni and friends ventured into the Lot to enjoy a morning of wine tasting followed by lunch, all organised by Greg Hawes. Greg’s devotion to duty had involved a rapid trip to his daughter’s graduation in Durham and a return at 5 a.m. home the same day, so great thanks are due to Greg, one of our many new members!
The excellent wine tasting at Château Famaey was conducted by Maarten Luyckx, son of the proprietor and main winemaker, assisted by Florence. Maarten exports successfully to 26 countries – and provide wine to BA’s lounges (first-class only of course!). We enjoyed hearing about the complexities of wine-making, exporting and barrel varieties and left with a significant selection of wine demonstrating our very varied tastes.
Our 2017 programme is up and running and members have been sent, or will be sent, details of the following future events by email:
A tasting visit to a local member’s chateau (Château Biac) with an on site buffet lunch, on Friday 1st September.
Our AGM on Tuesday 12th September at La Suite restaurant, Villeneuve sur Lot Golf & Country Club, 47290 Castelnaud de Gratecambe
A lunch on 4th November in Le Temple sur Lot organised by Jeremy James EDIT now postponed until Spring 2018,
As usual Marion will communicate details of these events as they firm up. If for some reason, you have not received the details please contact her.
Any member prepared to organise a lunch or other event of interest in his / her local area is of course welcome to do so or put forward ideas; with an influx of ‘new’ members recently joining our list, new opportunities for enjoyable social contact are just waiting to be explored!
I’ve noticed quite a lot of the lunch dates (including AGMs etc) seem to be scheduled for weekdays (and not all of us are retired!). I may be in a minority but it would be good to perhaps get some feed back about dates – or even better, start using a shared calendar tool like http://doodle.com/.