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4.1 out of 5 stars
Virgile's Vineyard: A Year in the Languedoc Wine Country
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
In this first book, we join Patrick as he spends a year in the Languedoc at the house he inherited from his uncle. As well as exploring, taming his land and getting to grips with the unique water supply, Patrick sets himself a challenge to discover and understand the wine of the region. With his three self-appointed experts we learn alongside him; the history of the area (from an expat divorced history teacher), the way of the locals (from Manu, his wine drinking neighbour) and the art of Languedoc wine making (from Virgile, a local vigneron).

This book was a pleasure to read and I have to admit to smiling to myself from the very beginning as so many of the great descriptions were spot on. It is not difficult to imagine you are in the Languedoc and learning about the life and wine, alongside Patrick with just enough information and snippets of history to be interesting rather than over bearing.

For a memoir, Patrick unusually keeps himself in the background and it is his three experts who come alive from the pages, especially Manu – the loveable rogue. I couldn’t wait to carry on and read book two Arrazat’s Aubergines.

This book has recently been updated and re-released and would be ideal for those who love life in France memoirs, plus those with an interest in French wine and the food of the Languedoc. But be warned, it will make you hungry and want to visit the area.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 November 2013
The story begins when Patrick moves into a property he has inherited from his Uncle. Taking a sabbatical from his regular job, he relates his experiences of living in the Languedoc during 2001. He learns about the region, its wines and winemaking, and becomes integrated with the locals. Travelling around, he visits many historical monuments and wine cellars, becoming acquainted with many of the local wines in order to stock his own cellar.

Very early on in the year, he discovers Virgile's Cave in the nearby village of St Saturnin. Virgile is just getting going on his own. He needs all the help he can get, and he and Patrick become good friends.

With a chapter on each month of the year, Patrick writes about all the stages of the winemaking process, from pruning the vines on cold winter mornings through to picking the grapes in the early autumn, fermentation and bottling. Virgile has to make many difficult decisions along the way. He is very meticulous about everything he does and comes across as a bit of a perfectionist! It's long hours and hard work, but Virgile's raw passion and determination to succeed are second to none. His motto, "Si tu veux, tu peux", has clearly got him where he is today.

Written with wit and in a very readable style, I'd heartily recommend this highly informative and light-hearted book to all wine lovers.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 25 March 2013
A great book, I already have this as a hardback and wanted a cheap paperback to lend out. At 1p plus postage you can not go far wrong and and delivery was speedy,

however it was dogearred

"Seller note: The book has been read, but is in excellent condition. Pages are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine remains undamaged"

20 or so pages folded over in the top corner, I would still have bought it for a penny but the description system used by Amazon appears not to cover this issue of dog earred pages adequateley. The pages are indeed intact and they are not marred by notes or highlighting and the spine is intact, however!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 20 November 2013
Read all about Patrick who inherits a French property in the Languedoc, and meets up with a variety of characters, some heroes and some villains! That includes one dapper French winemaker Virgile Joly who has just started his own winery, and with whom he spends a year tracking and assisting the progress of his vines and wines; whilst also discovering some of the history and tastes of the Languedoc wine region too.

A thoroughly enthralling book which I love to go back and re-read - it is an excellent choice as a present for any wine-lover, Francophile, or just anyone really!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 11 October 2004
I bought this as a wine enthusiast. In his year off in the Languedoc Patrick Moon was lucky to come across Virgile who needed every spare pair of hands in his struggle to produce wines in the traditional way, true to the terroir - rather than selling out as bulk production to the local co-operative. After reading the book I was pleased to see that Virgile's 2001 is one of the few Coteaux de Languedoc to be awarded 2 stars in a leading 2004 French wine guide.
While vines and wine making are at the heart of the book, its appeal is far wider. the fun really starts when the bottles get opened - usually at the instigation of Moon's neighbour and self-appointed wine guide, Manu. The tone of the book is set at their first encounter over a bottle of next door's home made at 10 am on a January morning. Despite all the pleasure of the seemingly endless tastings, one can't help feeling some sympathy for the author in the face of the ever cunning Manu - a cat and mouse game in which Moon is always the mouse. In his helplessness he emerges as the real hero of the book. A great read for anyone loving wine, food, France or just humour.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 7 November 2013
If you want to find out about the secrets of growing a vineyard and making wine in a clear and amusing way this is your book. Even if you are just a wine lover and have no viticultural ambitions (like me) there is a lot to learn and be entertained by.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 18 March 2014
what a fantastic read if you enjoy a glass of wine this is well written and moves at quite a pace and will leave you yearning for sunny days in the languedoc
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on 7 September 2014
The author reveals a good-humoured approach and an engaging humility in this marvellous book of his year as an apprentice to Virgile and his vineyard. For the lover of both France and her wines Patrick Moon asks all the questions we want answered, takes us through the stages of planting, caring for and harvesting the types of grapes (from the area) and the fascinating process of making the wine. His characters are colourful but not unusual for country areas the world over, in my experience. Compared to so many who 'do the French thing' and write about it, Patrick has an approach that is both simpatico, interesting and funny and, frankly, knocks all the others into a cocked hat! I am determined to buy some of Virgile's wine, which I see is available online. This is a book I will read again and again and will certainly take it with me on my next visit to the Languedoc.
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After writing his second book 'Arrazat's Aubergines' he didn't write anything further on the subject of the Languedoc, which is a great pity as he is one of the few authors who knows France and the French, in contrast to those who've bought a property in France, lived there for a year or
two, and who never learned to read, write or speak French.

Patrick Moon is one of a very few authors whose books I will always read, even if they're not about the Languedoc.

--

Jim
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 21 June 2003
I thoroughly recommend Patrick Moon's brilliantly written story of an extraordinary year spent in his inherited neglected house in the Languedoc region of France. I enjoyed every minute of it. The varied characters (some likeable, some not so!) really come to life and the story is told with immense wit and humour - it's one of those books that has you laughing out loud.
There is plenty here for the serious wine buffs too, as the author sets about exploring the region to discover, from a variety of local sources, the history and growth of the wine business in the region and how the various wines are produced. I also found that part of it fascinating. It certainly sounds as if he had a jolly time along the way too!
I felt quite sad when December came and the author had to say farewell to all his new friends and others! I really do hope he goes back and we hear more.
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