A Word About the Wine Labels
Fine wine is a handmade product, not an industrially produced look-alike taste-alike beverage. It lives and breathes and changes with time. Above all, it reflects the soul of the land it comes from, and the hand of the individual wine maker who makes it. It has succoured, sustained, cured, fascinated, fired and inspired us since time immemorial, and, incredibly, continues to do so to this very day.
We have used original, hand written calligraphy on all our labels to represent the handmade quality of our wines. This also reminds us that the famous white wines of Limoux have been written about for almost as long as people have actually been writing. Pliny the Elder, Pliny the Younger and Cicero are just some of the writers who have celebrated the wines of Languedoc. But it was Titus Livius, a 1st century Roman historian, who coined the memorable phrase "Limoux's wines of light" which we use on our AOC Limoux award-winning Cuvée de l'Odyssée (chardonnay) label. Why this cuvée should be called Odyssée is fairly self-explantory.
Our alititude and specific terroir have allowed us to explore the appellation's potential to its very limits, adding several new wines to the AOC Limoux gallery. The Cuvée Occitania celebrates the land it comes from, and the indigenous mauzac grape which grows there, and has grown there for over 600 years, with an old Occitan (the ancient language of Languedoc) proverb handwritten across its label: "Nostra terra mentis pas" (our soil tells no lies). Nothing can get closer to expressing the Rives-Blanques philosophy than that. And nothing gets closer to the Languedoc than a wine named Occitania
Dédicace is a chenin blanc, and indeed it has been made with great dedication, involving every single member of the team, both in the field and in the winery, in a truly hands-on production of the most surprising wine of the appellation. And because it is such a personal wine, we have allowed ourselves the pleasure of dedicating each vintage to someone who has played an important part in the life of Rives-Blanques.
La Trilogie is the True Limoux, a blend of the three grape varieties allowed by the appellation: chardonnay, chenin blanc and mauzac. What distinguishes Limoux, and makes its climate and environment so ideal for white wines, is the Pyrenees, which loom over its horizon. One of the peaks is called Rives Blanques, and it features on the label of this, our top wine.
Centuries after Titus Livius discovered Limoux's wonderful wines of light, the famous chronicler Jean Froissart also ended up in Limoux, (either just before or just after meeting up with John O'Gaunt in Portugal, to put it into historical perspective). Wishful nostalgia still rings loud and clear in Froissart's medieval reminiscences of his "delectable drinking bouts of the white wines of Limoux" - and that is why we have quoted him on our Chardonnay du Domaine (Vin de Pays d'Oc) label.
The latest Vin de Pays d'Oc to join the range of Rives-Blanques wines is one of the vineyard's most original products: an oak-fermented sauvignon blanc, of such aromatic complexity and so different from the sauvignons currently dominating the world market, that we were almost afraid to put the word "sauvignon" on the label. That is why this wine is called Sauvageon: "the wild one", actually the origin of the word sauvignon. Sauvageon may be different and original, but it is a sauvignon none the less, and that is why you can see the word 'sauvignon' standing in its shadow.
The 2002 harvest marked the first time Rives-Blanques produced a late harvest chenin blanc,
made from hand-harvested botrytised grapes. It also marked the 21st birthday of our son, Jan: each
event celebrating the other with a very personal label printed exclusively for the purpose.
2004 marked the 21st birthday of the daughter of the house, Xaxa, and for this happy occasion, another Late Harvest was launched - the latest Late Harvest in the history of the Aude Valley. Xaxa's label spells out her name in letters of gold : a very special wine for a very special person.
Our claim that Blanquette de Limoux is the world's first brut sparkling wine, pre-dating Champagne
by over a century, is not completely unfounded.
Whereas Blanquette de Limoux was the inspiration for Champagne, Champagne is the inspiration for Crémant de Limoux. The two sparkling newcomers to the Rives-Blanques range fly this flag: one a Blanc de Blancs, and the other a Vintage Rosé. Both sparklers show two very characteristic features of the vineyard: the mountains that dominate its horizon and inform its style; and the old roses that stand at the end of the rows of vines at the entrance.
Finally, returning to the all-important question of terroir: no one would ever say that a Chablis, a Montrachet, a Cloudy Bay, and a Meursault all taste the same. Yet they are all made from the chardonnay grape. One of the main reasons for the difference lies is their individual geoclimates. Château Rives-Blanques is ideally situated at a high altitude for the cultivation of white grapes. Our particular combination of soil and wind and water give attitude to this altitude, making our wines taste the way they taste. And that is why you will find the mountains, including the peak after which the vineyard is named, on all our labels.