RIVES-BLANQUES VINE LINES
Alors, how was the harvest, then ?
If you mean 2016, then it was great, thank you!
Or at least, that’s according to the reviews of the past four weeks. Our 2016 entry-level chardonnay-chenin blanc, hit the American Wine Enthusiast “Best Buy” hot spot this month and was also chosen by the French Terre de Vins as one of the best price/quality Pays d’Oc wines of the elite Ambassador Collection. Our “pure and elegant” Limoux chardonnay, Odyssée, enjoyed a witty and perceptive review in the new Dutch book Wine Guide for Women, while the mauzac, Occitania 2016, earned a Prix d’Excellence from the Federation Culturelle des Vins de France. But the last word on 2016 must go to our trio of chenin blanc wines – Aude a la Joie, Dédicace and the late harvest Lagremas d’Aur – all glowing in the glory of a stunning three-in-one Coup de Coeur each in Terre de Vins November-December edition.
To be honest, 2016 was a tricky year, and this is all mightily encouraging. But if you’re asking about 2017, well, that was even trickier…
In fact, we’d call it our Harvest Horribilis, had it not got out of the way quickly, provided us with really nice healthy grapes, and inspired the harvesting team to new and even greater heights of cooperation.
We could have embraced them all (and we did).
The yield was low – but we’re not the only ones to suffer that. In fact, it was one of the smallest harvests in France since WW2. And not only France, but Italy too, the smallest in over half a century. And Spain as well. All around us, in fact.
The stress was high – we had the hottest conditions ever, forcing us to start before the sun rose, and to stop even before it was directly overhead, followed immediately by rain and winds so vehemently and violently cold that we couldn’t go on. How can that be possible? It was.
And yet. And yet… after all that, and in spite of the rain that didn’t come when it should have (and did when it shouldn’t have), we were still the happy witnesses to the annual miracle of grape juice becoming wine.
And we had a serious, critical tasting of it last week, and it’s …. pretty good! True, there’s not very much, but what there is, is smiling.
At least harvest 2017 was polite enough to step aside and make way for the wedding of our daughter, Xaxa, last month, to Ian Madison – a Canadian who bravely took her on lock, stock and barrel (so to speak). He can reverse a tractor on to a postage stamp, sort a grape to the T, and sell Rives-Blanques wines with unlimited enthusiasm: all great talents for an academic engaged in International Relations! We welcome him on board and into the team with delight.
So we all had our say in the gentle updating of the labels of our sparkling wines, and we hope you like the result, Those self-same mountains on the labels are smiling down on us right now, covered in bright white lashings of fresh snow – it is truly a golden day today at Rives-Blanques: clean, crisp, and clear.
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