Vine Lines September – October 2011

Here you see what Galileo’s equation is all about: wine = liquid sunshine. Now all we have to do is add it up. The harvest of 2011 is over. Short and sharp, it was the most compact and condensed anyone can remember on our plateau. Eclectic, electric, confusing – we were kept on our toes all the way between last month’s full moon and its new moon. In all, only two weeks… but what an extraordinary two weeks they were.

A torrential downpour of monsoonic measures in early September threw a real spanner in the works. Another half-day mini-monsoon two weeks later drove the nail in. What sauntered in as a smiling, blameless, utterly perfect vendange suddenly turned temperamental and troublesome. We were pushed to the limit, watching each field like a hawk, changing plans on the run, and pouncing in on the grapes when the moment was right. Day and night, night and day.

It has to be said, we’ve never seen mauzac more beautiful than the grapes rolling into the press for Occitania. The Odyssée field surprised us all by suddenly going into overdrive; it will deliver a rich and powerful Odyssée reminiscent of 2002. And the chenin blanc did a Goldilocks act on us, presenting grapes that were underdone, overdone and just right – all on a single bunch. We redoubled the hand-sorting both in the field and on the sorting table, and ironically, this may well end up being the most interesting wine of the year.

So that’s that. All the wines are now fermenting in their barrels. The winery is alive with their chattering and gossiping. If you click on this picture and turn the volume up high, you may hear some of the stories they have to tell. Stories of a harvest that can be described by one word only: extraordinary.

Our Dutch friends may be interested to know that Rives-Blanques won the competition for two of the three official white wines of the Embassy in Paris – and also, unhampered by being a Crémant de Limoux, our pink fizz, Vintage Rose, was one of the two winning “Champagnes”.

We will be back again with more news when we have got our wits together. In the meantime, though, if you would prefer not to know, please just click on