Troubador Virgile's Vineyard

Released: 28/01/2014

eISBN: 9781783067725

Format: eBook

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Virgile's Vineyard

A Year in the Languedoc Wine Country


How did a region, so long notorious for mere quantity, transform itself into one of the world’s most exciting vineyards? And what does it take to make a great wine – even on a shoestring? In Virgile’s Vineyard, Patrick Moon explores the world of Languedoc wine. Among the cast of characters that Patrick meets during his year of discovery is Virgile, a young local wine-maker who offers to initiate him into the mysteries of each season’s work in the fields and in the cellar. Virgile is passionately committed to perfection, even though his limited means afford him just a handful of hectares and the smallest cellar imaginable. At the other extreme is Manu, Patrick’s dipsomaniac neighbour, a diehard traditionalist producing a private wine-lake of unspeakable rouge. With Manu as his self-appointed guide, Patrick embarks on a quest for the revolution’s leading lights – a succession of lively encounters with growers as diverse as the wines themselves – interwoven with entertaining digressions into the history of the region’s wine-making. Meanwhile the author struggles to deal with his long-neglected French home – an unfamiliar and unpredictable world where the brambles have grown as tall as the olive trees, the water supply has just dried up and there is a ferocious animal under the roof tiles... First published in 2003, Virgile’s Vineyard is now back by popular demand as a new and extended edition. As rich in humour as it is full of fascinating information, this book is a great read for any Francophile or wine-lover.

Selina will also be interviewing me about Arrazat's Aubergines at the same time on 4 December

Selina McKenzie will be interviewing me about Virgile's Vineyard live on Talk Radio Europe at 13.40 UK time on 27 November

Together with Virgile Joly, I shall be signing copies of 'Virgile's Vineyard' at a launch party for the new edition of the book to be held at the Maison de la Region Languedoc-Roussillon in London on 30 October. The event is hosted by Naked Wines, who have purchased 10,000 copies of the book for their customers! -
(By invitation from Naked Wines only)

Adrienne Fryer, who painted the cover images for both 'Virgile's Vineyard'and 'Arrazat's Aubergines', will be promoting all my books at the exhibition of her paintings which she is holding from 19th to 23rd October at The Old Chapel, Fore Street, Chagford, Devon.

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Patrick Moon

Patrick Moon was born in Cornwall in 1953. He studied History and French at Oxford University and then went on to qualify as a solicitor. He worked for nearly twenty years as a lawyer in a large London practice, but aged 44 – to the consternation of friends and family – he resigned his partnership.

With no idea what the future might bring, he was convinced that there ought to be time in life to achieve more than one thing and he set off to spend a winter in India. Where better, he thought, to come to terms with this new freedom, to fill in the blank sheet of paper that he had before him?

Patrick’s third book What else is there for a boy like me? tells the story of this journey. It charts his attempt to reinvent himself, to start again from zero. It also tells the parallel, interlocking story of Patrick’s efforts to help a young Indian change his own life. And it’s this latter endeavour which unexpectedly brings him closer to a darker side of India than he’d bargained for. It’s a tale of hope and disappointment, of laughter and tragedy, far removed from the French landscape of his first two books.

In the year 2000 Patrick took on a very different challenge in the shape of a run-down property in the southern part of France called the Languedoc. He’d been a wine-lover all his adult life and it wasn’t long before the excellence and the diversity of the local produce caught his attention. A region that had once been a major contributor to the European wine lake had suddenly turned from quantity to quality and Patrick’s first book Virgile’s Vineyard sets out to explore how that happened. It also follows Patrick’s ‘shadowing’ of the work of a perfectionist young wine-maker, Virgile Joly, from January through to December 2001, uncovering all that it takes month by month – in both the vineyard and the cellar – to make great wine.

A couple of years later Patrick was lucky enough to enjoy another year’s ‘work-shadowing’ – this time with an ambitious young chef, Laurent Arrazat, running a new local restaurant and his second book Arrazat’s Aubergines tells the story of those twelve months. It also explores the production of many of the food products most closely associated with the Languedoc.

In more recent years, Patrick has also fulfilled another ambition: to make time for painting, working mostly in oils. He has yet to mount an exhibition, but has sold an encouraging number of works to both private and business purchasers.

Patrick never did entirely let go of his base in England and he currently has a cottage in a small Cotswolds village. However, he spends as much time as possible in the Languedoc with his partner, Andrew, tending the vines, olives, fruit trees and vegetable garden. He is a keen cook, using home-grown ingredients whenever he can and, for the first time in 2011, he made a small amount of wine. His modest vendange is now the most important date in the calendar!

Even now, parts of the French property remain ‘unreclaimed’. Patrick knows that the day will never come when he says, ‘I’ve finished the gardening. What shall I do next?’ – which he says has proved excellent therapy for a perfectionist!

When time and energy allow Patrick is an enthusiastic walker and mountain biker, even if regularly outstripped by his teenage godson.

Patrick also returns more or less annually to his other great love, India, usually for about a month in January/February, when the land in the Languedoc is largely asleep. He has spent several years researching the histories of the many spectacular palaces in Rajasthan, which have recently been turned into hotels, and he hopes that this will one day bear fruit in another book.

Patrick Moon hiking

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