Fine wine, delicious delicacies, music and art in a phenomenal setting.
What a divine way to spend a sunny Saturday in and among the vines - in a splendid natural environment with manors and a taste of culture thrown in.
Once you have paid your 20 francs entrance fee, you get to meander through the picturesque wine villages of Verschiez, Ollon, Antagnes and Saint-Triphon on foot, by bicycle, bus, small train or motorbike. Visitors are truly spoilt for choice in modes of transport: This wine festival can be adventurous from inside a motorbike sidecar or comfortable from a vintage postal bus.
Balades dans le vignoble is held annually in the Chablais wine region, which is nestled at the foot of the Alps at the southeast end of Lake Geneva between Villeneuve and Bex. To celebrate its 20th anniversary this year, artists were invited to exhibit their works. This provided yet another layer of pleasure to the whole weekend experience.
Balades dans le vignoble is a delight for the taste buds.
In the heart of summer, this Garden of Eden with its alluring surroundings of vines, rivers, majestic mountains, manors and castles, opens its wine cellars to the public to taste, savor, devour and relish their local wines and gastronomic specialities whilst soaking up the local atmosphere.
Adding to the delights for the taste buds and visual sights is a variety of music. We find military mingling with alpine horn, and jazz with rock and country.
It's all about King Chasselas.
The Chasselas grape variety, known for its fresh and mineral thirst quenching style, is king of white wines around here. In fact, they adore it so much that they have dedicated an international wine competition to it.
Mondial du Chasselas is held annually in the prestigious Aigle Castle, a wine and vine museum. Other whites include Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc. Pinot Noir, Gamay, Garanoir and Gamaret, the latter two being a crossing of Gamay and Reichensteiner (a white grape variety), make up the majority of the reds in the area.
Additional interesting varieties are Mondeuse red, widely grown in the Savoie region of France just across the lake. Also, Viognier, a white variety well known in Condrieu in the Rhône Valley of France.
If you have not already been to the balade, mark your calendar and come along to next year's festival which will reveal some excellent 2015 barrel-aged reds!
My advice: Do not get the Swiss Chablais wine region confused with the Chablis wine region in France. It is easy to do, but just remember the different spelling.
Bonus: Some wine lingo to impress your friends.
Finish: Tastes and flavors left lingering on the palate after the wine has been swallowed or spat out. Great wines have a long finish.
Masculine: Think of the Marlborough man - well grounded wines with strength and power.
(Photograph copyright Balades dans le vignoble)
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