Vine Lines March/April 2012: Chardonday at Rives-Blanques

We’ve had a lot of the wrong kind of right weather: a seamless stream of uniformly brilliant sunlit days and clear skies right through the month of March and into April. In a word, pure perfection. But the trouble is, we want rain. Lots of it. So far less than half of what we need has fallen, and people are beginning to talk of an impending drought. On the sunny side, so to speak, all this mindlessly magnificent weather means we were able to address all 96,800 of our vines, one by one, hand by hand, and today the very last vine stands tied to its very last wire, ready to face come what may. And with July spreading itself all over our plateau in March, ‘come what may’ may be coming at us rather faster than we had thought. The vines are all in bud, and if this goes on, they’ll be leafing and flowering before we know it.

This brand-new chardonnay bud heralds the beginning of the 2012 vintage. With exquisite timing, it announces itself just as we finish blending the 2011 chardonnay – drought or no drought, at least Odyssée is back on tap again. And then just to complete the generational thing, we get the good, glad news at the same time that our 2010 chardonnay, Odyssée, has won the gold medal of the Chardonnay du Monde competition. Every vinyard must have its ChardonDay, and this was ours.

Chardonnay is the flavour of the month, not just at Rives-Blanques, but in Limoux. Its wine Co-Operative’s famous Toques & Clochers auction of chardonnay (the most important in France after the Hospices de Beaune) clocked up € 8,800  for a single barrel. Being (resolutely) independent producers who grow, make and bottle their own wine, we do not sell our grapes to the Co-Operative for this or any other of their wines, but that does not stop us from applauding this resounding success that spreads the good word about Limoux’s chardonnay.

After a spell of ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) we welcome the age of BBC (Bring Back Chardonnay), and are proud to see ours dressed in the livery of the famous two-Michelin star restaurant, Midsummer House in Cambridge.    Our un-oaked chardonnay (with a touch of chenin) will be bottled as their house wine next week: a wonderful moment in the life of our Country Wine.

On that note, one last word about chardonnay – a witty and wonderful review about our chardonnay blended with mauzac and chenin blanc in last weekend’s  Volkskrant … too bad for most of us it’s in Dutch!

02 April 2012