Monday, April 27, 2015

More From The Bugey Region

    Sunday, the day after we arrived at our gite, was the second day of de Ferme en Ferme, and there also was a festival in the nearby town of Lhuis featuring local artisans. We started the day by going to Lhuis, and picked up some more cheese as well as bread and croissants from a boulangerie in town. After leaving Lhuis, we headed towards the first farm of the day, La Bergere de Munet, which raises goats, sheep and cows and makes cheese from all 3 animals. We were given a tour of the barn and a demonstration of the cheesemaking operation, which included a tasting. Naturally, we bought several cheeses to take back to our gite.

      Next, we drove to the village of Beon to visit Cave Sylvain Bois, a small winery run by the talented young vigneron Sylvain Bois. Sylvain started the winery practically from scratch in 2001 after finishing his oenology studies. He had a small parcel of vineyard land he inherited from his grandfather, but no winery and no equipment. Gradually, he bought a couple of more parcels of land and planted vines on them, and purchased some machinery and other winemaking equipment. He started making small quantities of wine, and gradually increased his production, although it is still quite small. But while his production might be small, the quality is high, and wines from his current vintage won several medals at the recent wine judgings in Paris and Macon. The wines are Appellation Bugey Controlee; Bugey was a VDQS until it was elevated to an AOC a few years ago. After being given a tour by Sylvain and tasting a number of his wines, we bought a red Mondeuse, a white Roussette, and a sparkling wine also made from the Roussette grape.

     After leaving Cave Sylvain Bois, we stopped at La Ferme du Marais, a farm next to a nature reserve in swampy land (a “marais”). The farm raises mostly pigs and cows, and produces smoked meats (charcuterie) from its animals, as well as terrines and fresh meat, all of which are sold at the farm and served at their seasonal restaurant. We strolled around the farm, tasted some of their charcuterie and terrines, and bought a salami and a walnut and pork terrine.

     Our final de Ferme en Ferme stop was at GAEC des Plantaz, an organic fruit producer. Besides selling fresh fruits in season, they make fruit juices and sorbet. We were shown into the sorbet production room where we got an explanation of their sorbet production, as well as a demonstration and a tasting of the finished product. The farm makes their sorbet from their own fruit, which is pressed, then mixed with water and sugar (and nothing else), then put into a machine that spins it and turns it into the finished product. At the end of the demonstration the strawberry sorbet was done, and everyone was given a sample. It was creamy and delicious, tasting of fresh strawberries. We bought several flavors of their sorbet, including raspberry, which became the dessert at dinner that night. We also had Sylvain Bois' Roussette as an aperitif with cheese, and a bottle of red Bourgogne Rouge from Domaine Pigneret.

     The next morning we headed towards the town of Lagnieu for their weekly market. It was a modest sized market that had a very good vegetable vendor and an excellent cheese seller, and we stocked up from both. We also found a terrific looking (and smelling) bakery where we bought some bread and pastries. Afterwards we drove to several small towns in the Cerdon part of the Bugey region. The Cerdon appellation includes red and white table wines, but it is principally known for its Methode Ancestrale Cerdon wines, which are low-alcohol, somewhat sweet sparkling wines that are made by stopping the fermentation before all of the sugar has been converted into alcohol. Most of the producers are very small, and unless you make an appointment to visit, you have to take a chance that someone will be there to greet you. We stopped at several places, but with the exception of one winery where the winemaker had just briefly stopped in and poured us some wine when we showed up, no one was present at any of the wineries. Instead, we just walked around some of the villages.
Despite the sign, the cave was not open
The obligatory cat photo

     Besides going to the market in Lagnieu and looking for wine producers, we passed by several chateaus during the day. We stopped in the town of Jujurieux, which is known as the village of 13 chateaus. We didn't find all of the chateaus, but we did see 3 of them.

     On our way back to our gite, we stopped at the larger town of Pont d'Ain, on the Ain River. We knew nothing about it, and after taking a short walk we were very unimpressed with the town. We then went back to the gite for dinner, which included two of Silvain Bois' wines – the sparkling Bugey and the 2014 Mondeuse – as well as a potato dish with fresh creamy cheese with garlic and chives made with potatoes that Ghislaine's father had grown. We also enjoyed the pastries which we had bought earlier in the day,  


  1. As I like to say, "Life without cheese is not worth living!" And thank you for the obligatory cat photo. Charmant.

  2. Castles and cats...superb. Thanks Bob. Now for the flowers to relieve our drab existence in Maine.
    The ominous markings on the street and in the side garden are for the gas company. Maybe you better stay longer in France. KABOOM!

  3. Thumbs up, Bob. Good stuff. Kelly