|Fête de l'Absinthe - Boveresse
|June 18th, 2005 saw the 8th annual Fête de l'Absinthe at Boveresse, in the Val de Travers. Following the
re-legalisation of absinthe in Switzerland earlier this year, for the first time the local distillers were out in
force, with many new brands on offer.
Click on the images to see enlarged versions.
|An excursion to Le Creux-du-Van, a half hour drive from Couvet, high in the mountains overlooking the Val de Travers. On the way
there we passed through mysterious mist shrouded pine forests, alternating with fields of alpine flowers. Truly the home of La Fee
Verte. At the top of the mountain gentiane grows everywhere. Le Creux is a huge precipice, hundreds of feet high, looking over vast
forests below. Quite spectacularly beautiful. Nearby is a small smoke stained chalet, serving, according to the locals, the best
fondue in Switzerland. We were greeted with most un-Swiss like enthusiasm by the owner, a very happy woman in her forties. The
ceiling of the restaurant is hung with hundreds of smoked sausages, prepared on the spot. And the fondue, served with crusty
bread straight out of the wood oven, really is fabulous.
|Two distillery visits: First to the gleaming Kallnacher distillery, a long established family operation run by a husband and wife team.
Together with their new La Bleue, they make a wide range of eau-de-vies (we tasted a remarkable one made from asparagus) as well
as a Campari-like drink called Martinazi. Then on to the well-know Kubler distillery - Yves Kubler (at left in the photo above), has a quiet
and unassuming manner which belies his technical and business acumen (the recent legalisation of absinthe in Switzerland is directly
due to lobbying by the Kubler firm.)
|The festival day dawned bright and clear. By 8.30am the stalls were already buzzing. At least a dozen newly legalised La Bleues were
available to taste - one formerly clandestine distiller told us how his production had increased almost overnight from 450l per year to
over 1000l per month. As in previous years, the sechoir (top left photo) was a focal point of activity, as, for artemisophiles, was the
stand of Francois Bezencon, a local absinthiana dealer (bottom left photo). Marie Claude Delahaye, the doyenne of absinthe
historians (seen here with a bemused looking Pierre Verte) was on hand to sign copies of her recent books, including a new history
of the Pernod company available in both French and English. Claude-Alain Bugnon, the maker of "La Clandestine" , pictured here with
Ted Breaux, was on hand to share (many, many ) samples with us.
|To the neighbouring village of Motiers in the afternoon, to view the lots for Steve Rosat's forthcoming auction - some mouth-watering
items including the only Absinthe Vichet poster in private hands. On to the Motiers museum, which has a room dedicated to La Fee
Verte. The museum is open for only a few months of the year, and then at irregular hours. To be allowed to visit the absinthe room
necessitates the taking of a guided tour of several hours duration (or at least it feels that way). The curator (pictured above ) told us
that his mother drank the local La Bleue throughout her pregnancy, and assured us that he was living proof that it had no ill effects.
We weren't so sure.
|For one night a year, Boveresse is the village that never sleeps - the band kept going until the early hours of Sunday morning. Outside a
local showed of his impressive musical virtuosity on a hollow broomstick (you had to be there). Inside, the movie-star like good looks of
Pierre Verte proved a magnet for the local women, especially this village beauty who whirled him around the dance floor. And at our
table, it finally all got too much for a certain well know local distiller...
|No pictures or text may be reproduced or used in any form without written permission of the site owner.