autrement dit


photos © Kristin Espinasse. Outside the tasting room at Domaine du Mas de Martin. Looks like someone sampled a few too many... More winos at the end of today's story. Talk about today's photo in the comments section. What do you see? What is missing (what would you like to add)? What kind of chien do we have here?

un tuyau (twee-yoh) noun, masculine
    1. pipeline
    2. tip (insider information)

  un tuyau crevé = a bad tip
  avoir des tuyaux = to be in the know
  c'est un tuyau increvable = straight from the horse's mouth

Audio File: Uncle Jean-Claude was here today for some wine business and I managed to steal him for a few minutes--in time to get this recording! Listen to the French word "tuyau" and to the expressions, above. Download Tuyau . Download Tuyau

Last week, one of my favorite characters returned to help us with our 4th mise en bouteilles* here at Domaine Rouge Bleu. By the end of the day--and 9000 units later--I had learned even more about our unbeatable bottler, Babé (baah-bay).

When the sun came up over Mont Ventoux, pouring light across the field of vines and over a row of rosemary (and one of oliviers*) that flank our driveway, I saw her. She might have been a hunter walking up the dirt path, wearing the colors of combat: the green of the garrigue* and the black of the French forest at night. Hélas,* our heroine wouldn't harm so much as a miserable mouche,* but scold a slacker she would!

DSC_0244 Babé, a retired school teacher, spent many years channeling adolescent energy into creative output. In the process of handling so much hyperactivity, energy welled up within her, inevitably. To this day, Babe can't sit still!

And lucky for us--for when the time comes to churn out 9000 bottles along a powerful production line... il faut avoir du peps!*

We've already talked about Babé's "peps" in a previous post*. For today, we'll learn some tips or "tuyaux" that Babé shared, in between bossing the bottlers around ("Allez, plus vite!* What are you waiting for? Organize yourselves!). Coincidentally, "tuyau" also means "pipe" (perhaps the medium through which Babé "channeled" all that energy?). Here now, are those tips:

5 Tips learned from Babé while bottling our wine

DSC_0248 1. Use a serrated knife--and not a toothless one--to cut tomatoes! (A toothless knife slips! I learned this lesson the hard way, while making lunch for the bottlers)

2. Less is more: start with one sandwich per worker. You can always make more if needed (learned while Babé took over the sandwich-making when I ran off in search of a pansement* for my thumb).

3. For a comfortable pair of pants, look no further than the fishing tackle department at your local sporting goods store (Babé's cost only 10 euros at Décathalon). Check them out in the photo.

4. "T'as raison Gaston"* : just a fun phrase that I heard Babé say. It also shows that, even though she may be bossy, she doesn't pretend to know it all.

5. For happy household plants, bring on the wine! (Add one glass per jug of water).

Read more about Babé, via the link below, and be sure to say hello to her, by leaving your message in the comments box.

And as for that furry feignant, or slacker, in today's photo, I know what Babé would say "Hup two!" or "En avant!"

More Babé stories, here & more photos at the end of this post:

And for those of you who might be interested in purchasing the wine that we have just bottled (!), thanks for check out "Where to Find our Wines" (including our Domaine Rouge-Blue Rose 2008 and 2007 Reds!)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~French Vocabulary~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
la mise en bouteilles (f) = bottling; un olivier (m) = olive tree; la garrigue (f) = wild Mediterranean scrubland; hélas = alas; une mouche (f) = fly; avoir du peps = to be energetic; post = (see "More Babé stories", above); allez plus vite! = faster!; le pansement (m) = bandage; Tu as raison, Gaston = Darn right, Mike! (maybe you have better translation to add to the comments box? Update: "That's the fact, Jack!")

Cartes Postales: A Delightful Album for Postcards

In French Music: Putumayo Presents: Paris

La Perruche sugar cubes are made in France and have a rich and perfumed taste with hints of honey and vanilla.

With Uncle Jean-Claude:

The bottling machine on wheels!
Babé, not happy when she has to wait for those slow bottles to arrive! Allez, en avant!

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For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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There was a Pizza Hut ad at the end of your story-too bad they don't deliver to your place. Would have saved you a thumb injury. Babe's former students probably will never forget her, or what she taught them. She would make learning fun.


Merci pour me passer le tuyau sur les pantalons de Babe (allo de Los Angeles, Babe!)


I'd love to know if the dog is a Maremma (Italian livestock guarding breed)!

Fred Caswell

Bonjour Chere Amie!

Great to meet Uncle Jean-Marc and Babe.

More rouge-bleu colors on what to me looks like a curved rimmed pail with a black & white shadow picture of a person, plus on whatever is resting sur la terre entre le seau et le chien.

More snow this morning!! However, the sun is casting its welcome beams on la neige, my son, Jeff, reached his 48th birthday today, with Nancy's help he will read loving wishes from his dad, it is Martin Luther King Day, our nation is wild (in a healthy way) with Obama celebrations anticipating his inauguration demain, and after shoveling a skinny path to the morning newspaper before breakfast I learned our caring neighbor cleared the driveway between Nancy's car and the street, relieving me of dreaded hand shoveling.

This vieux homme is in good spirits -- back where he wants to remain.

Kristi, the Arizona Cardinals are going to the Super Bowl!

Kristin Espinasse

Fred: Thanks for the update and info. I can just hear the spring in your step! Joyeux Anniversaire to Jeff & Bravo to Nancy and le voisin. And, last but not least, Allez Cardinals!!!

PS: One of those items (if not two) is a "backpack" or "back *panier*" for picking grapes the old-fashioned way.

Hi Taina: not sure about that, but I just googled "Maremma" and, come to think of it.... looks like a match! Will have to ask our friends at Domaine du Mas de Martin.

Patti: hope you find a good deal on those pants in LA :-)


A round of applause for the marvellous Babé,
débordante d'énergie et d'enthousiasme,
gardant les deux pieds sur terre et le sourire aux lèvres...
Super travailleuse et entraineuse pour la mise en bouteilles,
Intrépide championne contre la montre.
Des petits tuyaux? Elle en a plein la poche!
De la bonne humeur? Elle en a à revendre!
T'inquiète donc pas! Babé arrive, elle est là,
déja au travail!... Plus vite, allez, allez!

Et maintenant Babé, 2 minutes d'arrêt...
On va trinquer à ta santé!


Great photo and story today, Kristin! Today my eyes were drawn to the pieces and parts of the old wine presses in the middle of the photo. My mom actually had one of these presses, intact, when I was little. That gnarled old thing on the right - is that a grape vine? What a life it seems to have weathered!

I loved the pictures that went along with your mise en bouteilles story. Babé, I am now in search of those pantalons, and T'as raison, Gaston, is one of my new favorite phrases! As a knitter, I was admiring Uncle Jean-Claude's sweater, and wondering if it was hand knit.

Thank you for brightening my cold Chicago winter day!


hello there.... In India.. bebe in punjabi languages means MOM :) and ur french version sounds exactly like one :)


Victorinox tomato knife (serrated and round end), and a simple Victorinox serrated knife (serrated and pointed end) cost about £3 in England and are most useful in my kitchen. Kristin, I hope your “pansement” is on a finger you don't use too much for typing!

I'm not a canine expert and have no idea about the name of this beautiful dog. I rather like the vine stock and the row of objects against the stone wall. From what I read above, I guess 2 of them were “paniers” used by grape harvesters and worn on their back. The metal one has been recycled into a rubbish bin, and the plastic one has become a plant container! Bravo!
Leah, thanks for throwing some light on the 2 objects in the middle. What about the interesting copper container on the right?

Dear Oncle Jean-Claude,
This is the second time we have the pleasure to hear the audio file with your voice. Thank you very much for your help when not bottling! I read your remark about "la bicoque" and I would agree with you. Let's say in some cases the word may sound a bit pejorative, so, all depends on the context.
You are more than a name, a helping voice and a helping hand. You have become 'a smile', thanks to Kristin' s photo illustrating today's story. Great!

“du poivre” = pepper, meaning energy. The abbreviation “pep” passed on in the French language at the beginning of the XXth century.
"être plein de pep" (= to be full of pep), became the equivalent of: “être plein de vigueur, de dynamisme, d'énergie, d'enthousiasme, de vitalité”.

"pep" is not a countable noun, so, even after "plein de", it should stay singular. No idea why the French eventually added an 'S' at the end of pep → plein de peps... but there you are!

"Un tuyau" may be a bit of a confidential tip but it's not always very confidential.
If you've got lots of tips (des tuyaux), you can pass them on to those who need them or are asking you for help.
“Passer un tuyau / des tuyaux”
“donner un tuyau / des tuyaux”


Some variants on "T'as raison, Gaston":

"Tu parles, Charles!"

"Tu l'as dit, Bouffi!"


Lovely day to you! I am drawn to the relaxed state of the dog, seems to have not a care in the world. Akin to my Great Pyrenees who lies napping behind me, sleeping off another night of guarding our farm. As it is January, and my days are filled with preparing the various forms and documents required of businesses for year-end, I dream of lying stretched out on the ground in the sun, my cares melting away in its warmth. For now, I am uplifted by the sunlight coming in my office windows and your sweet sharing from your corner of the world. Your photos are as expressive and exquisite as your written are such a treasure, Kristi! Thank you for sharing your beautiful way of seeing the world with all of us. We are indeed blessed!

Jules Greer

Kristi Darling,

Regarding "NEWFOREST'S" first comment, as you of all people know, I know nada when it comes to French, but even though I have no idea of what Newforest was writing - I sensed something poetic. Could you please have Jean-Marc recite her comment in French and English for me on your little recorder and please place it somewhere in your next post.
Maybe, just maybe if I had the time and a French dictionary I would attempt this, but I would rather use what energy I have painting and riding horses.

Jules Greer

Kristi - I just went over "NEWFOREST'S" comment again-- "A round of applause for the marvellous Bebe" Thank God she wrote that part in English. As I struggled with the second line I started laughing, only you would know how funny my translation could be. Maybe I'll write this one down and translate it for you when I arrive in France. Don't forget to tape this for me.



Jeff Jackson

Tu as raison, Gaston = Darn right, Mike! (maybe you have better
translation to add to the comments box?)

How about, "That's the fact, Jack!"

Eve Robillardrobill

Kristin--What strikes me is that rusty recepticle, which is probably at least 500 years old, & that newer image imprinted on it! Very pleasing to the eye!!! eve (happy day) robillard

Eve Robillardrobill

Kristin--Also, I need to know: do my plants want red wine or white? eve

Jon North

Obviously roses and pinks need rosé.

Otherwise the iron and tannins in red spring to mind as beneficial. Is there a thesis in this - the nutritional effects of diluted wine on plant growth and flowering...?



The official looking sign of a "man throwing a stick" could mean that the pail is for filling up with sticks for a favourite game of fetch. Blaise ( I think this is her name...) has perhaps used up her ration and is now exhausted or is simply waiting for a kindly soul to provide a refill!


I know all your work is enjoyed by the many folks who drink your wine!
Enjoy your day!
smiles, Cyndi in Alabama


I wouldn't add anything ... well, maybe a thermometer so I could know just what the temperature was and exactly how "lazy" the dog had to be ... Great photo! Full of the realness of life.


Great site.


Je pense le chien et French Pyrennes. C'est un chien apres midi chat nap.

c'est une petite histoire,ca.

terrin haley

Le chien est an Grand Pyrenees, the best breed in the world (d'accord, il y a un petit problem avec le shedding). I met my first Great Pyrenees while on a ramble through the Pyrenees from Spain to France. This enormous dog followed us up from a village to le col where it leaned against my side while sharing notre piquenique. I fell in love. My own stateside Pyr died last year at the age of 13, never having visited France. Quelle dommage!


Will you & Jean Marc be coming to the Bay Area in 2009?


to terrin, so sorry to hear of the demise of your grand pyrenees. my condolences.

Camille Kelling

Bonjour Babe,
You sound like a lot of fun and how nice of you to help with the wine production.


The trash can cracks me up. The old red bin looks like something you would buy in an antique shop in the States, sans the international symbol of the trash can :)

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