Today I learnt a new word – bernache – used in Touraine and particularly in Anjou, to designate what is known in other parts of France as vin nouveau, i.e. grape juice at the beginning of its fermentation.
Like any vin nouveau, bernache is only available for a short period at the end of the grape harvest (vendange), that is, from about the end of October to mid-November and is usually served with roasted chestnuts (marrons grillés).
It is mainly produced in Montlouis and Vouvray. Cloudy, a little sweet and sometimes very bubbly, it can’t be transported very far. It’s a transitional stage of traditional vinification.
In the Saumur area, further along the Loire, where Jean Michel grew up, it’s called beurnoche.
Bernache has another meaning – a barnacle goose (from the benus Branta . Not that I have ever seen a barnacle goose! Unfortunately, my Robert etymological dictionary is currently in a carton in Paris waiting to be moved to Blois or I might have been able to find out if the two words are connected.
In any case, I am going to try and find a vineyard where I can try some bernache vin nouveau!