Vinisud. Yes that's what all of the French blogs are talking about right now. It was last week in Montpellier, about an hour from where we live. Since it's our first year making wine and the wines still haven't finished malo-lactic fermentation, we had no intention of participating. Well, until our banker called us and asked if we would like to come pour our wines one afternoon at their stand. Hey, not bad huh? A chance to go to the biggest wine-related trade show in France outside of Vinexpo, and for free. A small stand costs €2000, so we'd really have to be convinced that it would be beneficial to a small winery like ours in order to participate in the future. Pariticipation, that's what it seemed to be about, just being there, rubbing elbows with other vintners, seeing old friends, and possibly making a contact or two. Walking into the convention center in Montpellier, you realize just how many wineries there are out there, and just how small you really are! Our bank, Banque Populaire du Midi, had a large stand, that was located kind of far away in the back of the hall that hosted the wines of the southwest, far from our friends and colleagues in the Côtes du Rhône. We got out our samples, pulled from the vat that morning, with the labels that I had printed out from the computer and then glued on, then added a little tape on the corners... We felt a bit like amateurs, which of course we are. We didn't see much action there at the back of Hall 4, mostly because people didn't expect a winery to be pouring tastes at a bank stand. So after a couple of hours we decided to go make the rounds and try to see some friends. First we found Claudie and Bertrand Cortellini from Domaine Rouge Garance, a winery in the neighboring village of St Hilaire d'Ozilhan. These wonderful people practically saved our lives during harvest. They put us in contact with our enologist, they loaned us their harvesting cases, and generally re-assured us throughout our stressful first harvest. We left them with promises to return later with a sample for them to taste. Then we saw many others, Jean-Marie Popelin, who along with his wife Marie just started a winery not far from us called Chateau Haut Musiel, Eric and Christine Saurel from Montirius a biodynamic winery near Vacqueyras, and many others. We quickly realized that it would be much better for us to pack up our samples and spend the time talking with colleagues, so that's just what we did. We took our samples back to the Cortellini's and there we got the best compliment we could have hoped for. Bertrand said that it really expressed the terroir of the vineyards around Castillon (where his vineyards are too). They both were very excited and thought that we had done a great job with our first harvest! Yippee! It was so nice to have two ( Michel Bettane and the Cortellini's) enthusiastic reviews of our wine in the same week. I can't wait until it's in bottle!