May-June 2013: Afloat and buoyant


A regular newsletter on the wines, vines and times at Rives-Blanques

This month there is good news and there is bad news. Village elders around here believe that if it rains on St.Médard (8 June) there will be forty days of rain to follow. But the good news is, if there is sunshine three days later on St Barnabé, then St. Médard is overriden, and fair weather will prevail. Our vines are praying to St Barnabé. In fact, we are all on our knees. Nearly our whole annual quota of rain has already fallen, and we are still far from December, the wettest month of all. Indeed, our 20 hectares are at real risk of floating over the Pyrenees and into Spain. It is also ridiculously cool: the vines should be well into flowering by now, but there is still little sign of that. In fact, they are looking a bit yellow around the gills, and not half as happy as the wild-flowers joyously springing to life around them. We know how quickly the vines can catch up and get going if they have to, but we do, please, need some sunshine.


 The famous French wine magazine, La Revue du Vin de France, has come out with ‘the truth about the 2012 vintage’ in its June issue, after a herculean nationwide tasting of all the country’s appellations. “Yet again”, they say, “Limoux’s white wines were really successful”. And leading the list was the Rives-Blanques chenin blanc Dédicace, and our mauzac, Occitania. Delighted we are to be amongst the 25 top white wine producers of the Languedoc, but even more delighted to be included in this rigorous selection for the 12th consecutive year – unique in our region and a true testimony to how suitable our high-altitude terroir is for the great white grape varieties.


The vintage 2012 also wrought wonders on our Pays d’Oc chardonnay-chenin, which combines two of the 56 grape varieties grown in the Languedoc. It has been chosen to be one of the sixteen Ambassadors of the world’s biggest wine region, representing the Languedoc at home and abroad. Gold medalist of the IGP Pays d’Oc Collection, its role is to “support, maintain and preserve the region’s integrity and cultural heritage”. We almost feel bad about calling this clean, fresh and aromatic country wine “simple but not stupid”.

In fact, it is the third official Ambassador of the region from the Rives-Blanques range.

And the wine chosen by the Dutch Embassy in Paris to celebrate the coronation of the new King of the Netherlands.

So we are feeling rather good about the 2012 vintage. The harvest itself went off without a hitch, and so too the fermentation and maturation of our Limoux whites. The first two were bottled last week: cause for celebration, because for the first time since 2010, we have been able to make a Trilogie, the top blend of selected barrels. We had our first sip straight after the bottling, and are still buoyed by incautious happiness.

Did you notice the three glasses? Yes, there are now three family members who have lost their hearts and souls to Rives-Blanques: Jan, Caryl, and our son, Jan-Ailbe, now working here full time, something indeed for us to drink to.

More news will follow, in a month or so. But there could be no better news than that the sun has returned to the South of France. In the mean time, though, we will just have to find it shining in our wine glasses and hope for the best …