November 2014: Going Dutch

Glorious September continued into glorious November, and summer sits on our plateau like a guest who won’t leave. Just when you think it’s on its way out,  it leans forward and says, « Well all right then, just another little one please.  If  you insist », and lingers for another round.   It is utterly magnificent.  That’s outside.  Inside is pretty good too: as the month began, most of the barrels had finished fermenting.  A clutch of them veered off in another direction and spontaneously started malolactic fermentation – when malic acid turns into lactic acid, if you really need to know – which is common for red wines but a lot less so for white wines … unless induced (which was not the case).  Ah well, the mysteries and magic of winemaking.  The important thing is, it is all looking great.

Saturday November 1

Gorgeous sunrises follow gorgeous sunsets, with gorgeous everything in between.    It is amazing.  La vie est belle under the gaze of the peak called Rives Blanques.


Monday November 3

One of the harvesters dropped by today.  The dancer.  Apparently he’s been invited by the City of Carcassonne to put on a multi-media  spectacle, and he’s decided to do it on wine.

« I really loved it! » he said.  « I loved harvesting. I loved the smell.  I loved the noises, I loved the sights.  I loved the movements.  I loved everything! »
And a result,  he’s choreographing the story of wine.

I had spent much of the harvest loitering around with a camera, hoping to catch him doing an arabesque over the vines.  But this is even better.


Tuesday November 4
New Old  Masters for Rijksmuseum 

The world-famous Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam astonishes with its stunning €375 million renovation, reinvention and rejuvenation. Now they have just opened a luxurious gastronomic restaurant, called Rijks, with a Michelin-star chef at the helm.  And the best news?  Yep!  On the wine list, one chardonnay from Limoux called Odyssée, and one fizz from Limoux called Blanquette.

Both from Rives-Blanques,  hugely proud to be hanging in there along with all the old masters …


Wednesday November 5

An Inspector Calls
Well, at least we get some things right.  Sud de France, the generic marketing name for the Languedoc-Roussillon region, has renewed our ‘Quality’ status as one of the showcase tasting rooms in the area.  That’s nice.  With a smiley face and a note saying, « I recommend this tasting room. »

Jan dealt with  the inspector when he came – incognito, of course.   They always come incognito.  They send incognito emails and make incognito phone calls, and then appear, incognito, on the doorstep, pretending to be travelling salesmen with an interest in wine.

The problem is  they are so uniformly incognito, that it is difficult to express surprised amazement when they announce that actually they are a secret Sud de France inspector, and not the travelling salesman they were pretending to be …



Monday November 10
Kissing the Wind 

Andrew Jefford is a true delight to read.  His fluent pen writes fluidly and lucidly, and so much more poetically than any  other wine-writer I can think of.  No wonder he has won all those awards.

Today his thoughts about Limoux come out in print, on  They can be read here.

Everyone is very happy.  And not least of all, we.


Thursday 21 November
Hard Winter?

Warm balmy weather continues.  The sun seems set to stay in the sky, and the sky is programmed to  pure, constant, true blue.  Day after day, week after week.

Autumn is not the fiery, flaming rainbow of reds, golds, ochres and burnished copper that we have known in other years.  It’s a more muted affair, embalmed in warmth.

The odd thing is that the old oak tree in front of the house has shed more acorns than ever before.  Mountains of them.  Last year, hardly a single one – this year, enough to build a fortification around the house.  The old people say, it’s a sure  sign  winter will be tough.

Well, they may be right.  Last year’s winter hardly was a winter at all.

And then this morning, a flock … no, a drove … a positive legion of birds gathered over the winery on their way to other climes. Thousands upon thousands of them.   The noise of their flapping wings was incredible.  I grabbed my ipad and took this picture.  Eric looked at it, and said … « that means we’ve got a really hard winter on the way. »

The question is, when?



…/to be continued.