Wine and grapes

La bernache

This is the first year we’ve been in the Loire for bernache, which is grape juice at the beginning of its fermentation. It’s popular in Touraine and particularly in Anjou (also in Alsace where it’s called vin nouveau). It is available from October to about mid-November and is traditionally accompanied by grilled chestnuts and walnuts. It s a thick rather syrupy liquid which has been fermenting for 3 or 4 days and only lasts for a few days. Since it can be very fizzy, it can’t be transported. The lid always has a  hole in it. It is a transitional stage in traditional wine-making. We once had a funny experience with the Alsatian vin nouveau that you can read about here. Below you can see what it looks like in a glass (minus the chestnuts).
C’est la première année que nous sommes dans la Loire pour la bernache, le nom donné au jus de raisin au début de sa fermentation. Populaire en Touraine et surtout en Anjou, mais aussi en Alsace sous le nom de vin nouveau, elle se déguste d’octobre à mi-novembre environ avec des marrons grillés ou des noix. C’est un breuvage trouble et laiteux, plus ou moins doux qui a travaillé pendant 3 à 4 jours au moins et ne dure que quelques jours. Étant parfois très pétillante, elle n’est pas transportable. Il faut faire un trou dans la capsule. C’est une étape transitoire de la vinification traditionnelle. Ci-dessous dans un verre (sans l’accompagnement des châtaignes !)

15 replies on “La bernache”

I doubt there will be much local bernache this year. No one has enough of a crop to spare it. Before you buy some, check where it has actually come from (often from further south or even Spain). And have you found any clue yet as to why it is called ‘barnacle’?

The bottle we bought comes from a wine merchant in Blois. We have no guarantee that he bottled local bernache though :).
One suggestion for the name is that it is of Italian origine and used in Anjou, Touraine and Haut-Poitou. It’s not in my Robert etymological dictionary unfortunately. I also don’t have the Itailan word.
The “barnacle” connection is with goose though, from Irish fokelore because it was believed that the barnacle goose was born in a barnacle.

You may have to go out in the country a bit but you shouldn’t have too much problem finding it in your area.

In our neck of the woods it’s called Le Bourru. As I am away from home I can’t tell you if I have spelt that right. We were warned when we bought a bottle that we wouldn’t like it and they were correct! Fizzy, cloudy like muddy river water and good for drains (perhaps constipation). We always think that it is called that because it has the kick of a donkey.

Yes, it’s bourru. How funny – I rather enjoy it. But it shouldn’t be TOO muddy, just a little thick. Maybe yours was not at the right stage :).

When we lived in France we always looked forward to November, and the Beaujolais… not so much for the wine itself, more for the hype around it! Visiting via #AllAbout France

Thanks for commmenting. Unfortunatelyl, beaujolais nouveau is dying out. In Paris, it used to be a wonderful occasion but after alcohol consumption in the streets was banned, it just sort of crumbled up.

This recalls one my favorite memories from our first expatriation in France. After we visited the chateau at Cheverny, we stopped in at one of the local producers of Cheverny wines. We’d done some research and found that this was their first appearance in the Hachette’s guide to French wine, and the owner was thrilled that we’d sought him out. He took our 8-year-old son into the work area behind the tasting room, pulled a little hose off the giant vat of grape juice that had just been filled (but not yet fermented), and let him drink directly from the source. We took home a couple of cases of his very nice red, and our son left with an experience he still remembers 20 years later! Thanks for writing about this.

What a wonderful experience! Jean Michel learnt to taste wine at a very young age, accompanying his father to various cellars near Saumur.

Hi, I began the photo blog when we bought our house in Blois. It started out as BloisDailyPhoto but we actually spend more time visiting the area around Blois than the city itself!
We are very proud (and fond) of our fireplace which we entirely restored ourselves. I wrote a lot of posts about it at the time on Aussie in France. It’s a great comfort when winter days set in.

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