The Beat Goes On

Got through Xmas OK, put the ghosts back in the drawer, but now comes another challenge, a texted invite to a New Year’s party with costumes in a 70s theme. Now when I think of the 70s and I don’t very often, here’s what comes to mind: Vietnam, Nixon, Watergate, Patty Hearst, Jim Jones, George Moscone and Harvey Milk.

I know, not exactly a party but I was shooting news back then.


But when most people think of the 70s, the first thing that comes to mind is disco.

I’ve lived this long without wearing a white suit and think I can make it the rest of the way, but these opportunities don’t come along very often and shouldn’t be missed, besides, if I don’t do anything I won’t have anything to write about. I’m not making this stuff up, you know.


So I’m on my way to Perpignan with my brain running faster than my Twingo. I’m thinking Nixon mask, but I don’t want to scare the children; I could be Sonny and hope that Cher shows up; Ike looking for Tina; Garfunkel wondering where Simon went; Paul searching for John, George and Ringo.


At the party store, there’s not a Nixon mask to be found; there may have been other celebrity masks but I didn’t recognize them, instead there are themes. There are pirates who almost look like Johnny Depp but not close enough to get sued. There are a few old hippies looking worn and almost forgotten and a bit of punk with messy hair and torn jeans; I could do that but everyone would think I didn’t bother to dress up. There are some highly stylized long hair wigs that might be seventies, but looked more like Park Avenue scion trying on being bad. And there are afros, many afros in many lengths and colors: modest Jewish guy afros; pink, green and yellow I don’t know why afros; and black afros, some with beard and mustache to complete the look. I’m thinking Sly Stone without the rest of the family but it doesn’t really matter, the hair’s the costume.


Party time. I had to bag the beard and mustache since I already had my own but I added some polyester and bling to complete the look. And it was a very generous party indeed: Champagne, oysters, foie gras, truffles, red wine, duck, desserts, cognac. Eating, drinking, dancing, laughing, I think I had a good time. It went on until 5 AM or maybe later, I couldn’t really tell you. In fact there’s not much more I can relate, but through the magic of autofocus, I can show you.

Click on the thumbnail to see a larger image.



Wild Boar

Wild boar is hunted all the time in this part of France; either you eat the sanglier or the pig eats your grapes.

So when Marcel Buhler of Domaine des Enfants throws a party to celebrate the end of harvest 2011, there’s boar and there’s wine.

Young people come from all over Europe to work the harvest making communication hit or miss, but wine creates a common language… up to a point. Early in the evening I was struggling through a conversation in French, trying to understand accents I couldn’t identify, when it suddenly took a turn that left me totally baffled. Now this is not unusual, especially here where the southern accent can mix in some Catalan and a bit of Occitane and will always add a syllable where you least expect it. Often I’ll hear a word I just don’t understand and in trying to figure it out, I lose the thread of the conversation, but this was different. I was totally lost, not a clue.  Finally, one of my friends turned to me and said: “That was funny, I started talking in Polish and he answered me in Czech”. Wine can only do so much.


The party started around 4, but the recently deceased entrée wasn’t ready until about 9, so we had about a five hour wine tasting. This is not an every day occurrence, nor should it be. You really can’t taste much after the first four hours.

The pig was a different story, spit roasted over grenache vines, absolutely delicious and quickly consumed.

The kids party easily, but the joy was in watching Marcel. He is a very intense man, whether pruning, picking or processing, but on this night with the crew paid, the pig cooked and the wine at rest, he was finally able to relax

Here are a few photos of the evening. Savor them with a nicely balanced, full bodied red wine preferably from the Roussillon.

Saturday in the Vineyard with Georges

As you would expect, one contact leads to another, and so to Georges.
Photo of Georges Feuerstein
Georges Feuerstein ©2011 Ron Scherl

The first phone call was a masterpiece of miscommunication, speaking French is harder for me on the phone and Georges, who has spent all of his 79 years in Rasiguères, has that southern accent that seems to mix in a bit of Catalan and a dash of Occitan. It was a struggle, but we managed to agree on Saturday morning at 9:00 in front of the Mairie in Rasiguères.


The first thing Georges did was take me over to the coop to taste some of the local wines and, as always happens, when I taste I buy. He did, however, secure a 20% discount for me, which he was very happy to point out. Business accomplished, we went out to a small syrah vineyard where Georges introduced me to his son, grandson, granddaughter and the rest of the pickers. Turned out the grandson was on the Domaine Pertuisane crew I had photographed and he wanted to know if I had any good photos of his girlfriend who was also there.


In this method of harvesting, the pickers drop the grapes in buckets which are the dumped into la hotte, the plastic bin carried by one of the workers. When full, he dumps the load into a truck, which is unloaded directly into the crusher at the coop.


When the picking was finished for the day, Georges invited me back to his house for something to drink. He seemed pleased when I accepted a glass of sweet wine and we made our way as best we could through a conversation in which he explained how the wine had been stored in oak, giving it a characteristic brown color. When I told him I liked it very much, Georges went out to the garage, drew a bottle from the barrel and sent me on my way with a bonne journée.

Click the thumbnail to see a larger image.