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The Roannais may not be the most well known wine growing area around the world, but our neighboring department certainly is.
The Beaujolais is just 30 minutes drive from Roanne, in fact pre-19th century the Roannais was part of the Beaujolais region.
Here we recently had the opportunity to visit a small, family producer of wonderful red and white wines.
Roger Dumas cultivates a mere 5 hectares of vines and follows generations of his family in growing traditionally and esthetically.
Twice, each year, for a weekend, M. Dumas opens his doors and takes immense pleasure in explaining his methods and ethics to the public.
His is a story of tradition and quality, profit being a bonus when it happens, but certainly not Roger’s priority.
A producer of integrity and humility, who cares for his land with true passion and belief in quality, never willing to sacrifice the latter.
We visited with a good friend, who had joined the group of loyal ‘harvesters’ each year, (in his younger days!) to work hard in the fields, sleep rough in the huge barn and benefit from the fabulous family hospitality each evening. A ‘rites de passage’ for many a young man, (and woman of course!)
The Beaujolais region is notoriously beautiful. Rolling green hillsides dotted with tiny villages, golden in the sunshine.
Though not distracting from this beauty, as in many regions, a change has taken place over recent years. Sadly, you can see where odd fields have been stripped of their vines and turned to more profitable crops, a mark of the decline in France’s dominance of the world wine market, as new countries and big business in particular take over.
Never an option for M. Dumas, who almost takes great delight in describing the 2 years out of the last 10, when due to bad storms in the area, his whole crop was destroyed. Not willing to compromise, and produce an inferior vintage the harvest was abandoned until the following year- c’est la vie!
Back to the visit!
The very humble barn had been opened, and decked with trellis tables.
Along side the open bottles lined up for tasting, were various local delights- huge bowls of cherries from the garden, green olives and oil from a family friend in Spain, who shares M. Dumas’s beliefs in traditional and natural production. There were walnuts and almonds, from the same Spanish farm as well as cured ham, delicious!
The red wines varied in age, each with it’s own distinct character and along with the white, rose and sparkling, offered a variety fit for any occasion.
Also a delight was the locally made goats cheese and honey that was on offer to taste. With their artisan producers, proudly talking about their products, and farms.
We came away, as one does on these occasions, feeling content and at one with the world, happy that in this corner of France, like our own Roannais region, the respect for nature and traditional ways were being upheld against the flow of technology and mass production.
Try our Purefrancenow Gourmet Week-ends with visit to a vineyard in the marvellous Cote Roannais, complete with wine-tasting, and a sumptious ‘Menu Gourmand’ at the amazing Chateau de Champlong.