Thursday 23 February 2012: 'Chinese' landscape
Out with the geologist again this morning to take a few more photos around Vailhan that we didn't have time for the other day. A beautiful warm morning - 15 C - and the air clearer than it has been despite a few clouds. The wind had blown away the smoke from the vine-growers' fires, burning their trimmings, that made such a lot of haze on Tuesday.
The rock on the right is one of many olistoliths in this small area between Vailhan and Gabian, caused by the movement of a block of limestone over another layer of rock, until (underwater at that time 300 million years ago) it hit a coral reef and broke up. It's the same formation that is found in the Guilin area of China and around Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
For those who asked about the effect of the local geology on wine-making, it is that here at the edge of the Cevennes we have an unusual variety of different rock formations - basalt, limestone, schist, volcanic and so on - which occur in small patches so that different varieties of grape can thrive quite close together, as opposed to the large areas of one kind of rock which occur in other places, necessitating a monoculture of one variety of grape. The vigneron can then use this knowledge to make an assemblage of different grapes which makes a better wine. It really is a different view on a familiar landscape when it's all explained by someone who knows so much about the geology.