Lieux Dits
Lou Coucardié
Nostre Païs
The Varietals
Blanc de Blancs
August 3rd, 2011

An Afternoon at a Course Camarguaise (Part II)

As you have hopefully gathered from my previous post, the true interest of a Course Camarguaise is the “raset”, the encounter between man and bull. The best “raset” is one that allows the bull to show what he is capable of. If the “raseteur” dares to run a straight line, he risks everything. The sight of the bull a breath away, until the “raseteur” leaps into mid air above the barricade with, at times, a piece of his pants, or his shirt on the horns of bull – that’s why people come.

The Camargue bull is more athletic and more agile than his Spanish cousin, but his anatomy doesn’t permit him to turn on a dime. If the “raseteur” cheats the bull with a hard turn, he’s called an assassin (we take our “course” seriously!) I’ve tried to sketch out the differences between an inglorious “raset”, a classic one, and an ideal “raset” as seen below.

So to bring all this home let’s take a look at what happened when GARLAN opened the second half of the afternoon.

Let me first say that this bull is THE coucardié of his generation (at least that’s my humble opinion). And quite frankly the “raseteurs” did not do him justice. Very early on, he staked out his territory and systematically defended it. With distain he forced the “tourneurs” to keep their distance. Even in an arena as big as Beaucaire’s, it was obvious that GARLAN was the one who would decide where, when and how the combat would take place. He kept his movements to a minimum, and the “raseteurs” knew he was just waiting to take advantage of the least little mistake any of them might make. They refused to force the situation, to take a risk. Poujol, Chekade and Benafitou each got GARLAN to the barricade just one time, and oh the “attributs” were hard to get.  The prizes for the “attributs” quickly passed 1000 euros but the men seem unwilling to create many openings.

Now for the neophyte, this kind of confrontation is just plain boring. What he wants is the chase and his measure of risk is how many times the bull has slammed into the barricade. He wants a spectacle and for him a great bull is one that submits to the “raset”, who splinters the wood barricade or who literally flies over the barricade. For this kind of spectator Sunday was a flop because GARLAN proved once again with his intelligence and his valor that he is untouchable.

Poor GARLAN, he has yet to find his match among this generation of “raseteurs”. If at least one man had been willing to measure himself against GARLAN, Sunday would have been so much more noble. A great Cocardier is one who protects his “attributs” and who imposes himself. He is a cut above and I so enjoy watching GARLAN wreck havoc to his “raseteurs” best laid plans. He is Lou Coucardié of the moment. So when you open one of our bottles of Lou Coucardié Costieres de Nimes, know that we are paying homage to this most noble member of our beloved Camargue.

NB:  I’d like to thank Martine Aliaga, who very generously allowed me to post her photos.

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