No words can describe the utter magic of this moment ... or the exhilarating explosion of uncorked elation in this bottle of Blanquette de Limoux on the Pyreneen peak of Mount Rives Blanques. Sandwiched between Dougie Keelan, who once took 54 men up Mt Everest (and safely brought them back down again), and Guy Sheridan, the soldier-mountaineer whose name distinguishes a South Georgia peak, were 20-odd courageous customers, colleagues and kindred spirits who came to help celebrate the approach of the tenth harvest at Rives-Blanques by conquering the eponymous peak. (All metaphors are strictly intentional.) Never, ever, in its 600-year history has a Blanquette bubbled so brilliantly, or been better served - and deserved. Never, ever, will it taste quite the same again.

This was definitely the highpoint of the month, and if the truth were known, we are all still on a high. Flying, you could say. And all the more so with the news that KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has again taken our mauzac, Cuvée Occitania, on board. Ah, such music in our mauzac this month! The year 2009 was a very good one for us, and this makes it even better: the fourth vintage of Cuvée Occitania to be taken sky-high ... in the lap of luxury on KLM's World Business Class.

Meanwhile, it's back down to earth for a look at our 45 year-old chenin blanc vine whose progress we follow on a daily basis. If you click here you can see the lastest video of its pilgrimage towards the harvest. July has brought us stultifying heat, unexpected cold, and a string of blissful days redolent with the smell of wild figs, mint, thyme, rosemary, lavender. The grapes have been soaking this all up, and look great. Brilliant, in fact: bright and beautiful, and bursting with bonhomie and good health. But the truth is, they are a bit slow, and we doubt our harvest will begin in earnest until mid-September.

One vintage begins, another ends, and just as surely as our late harvest Jan came to an end, so too did Xaxa, that "rather delicious oddball" (Jancis Robinson, of course): the last bottle left our cellars two weeks ago. Alas, we have no more children, and no more 21st birthdays to celebrate. So that's that.

Or is it? Bring out the violins for a tear-jerker: Lagrimas d'Aur, a chenin blanc/mauzac blend harvested in November 2006, will be ready for release in a month's time. Clean, fresh and elegant, it is more than just a backward glance at Xaxa, and will continue into perpetuity until another 21st birthday comes around at Rives-Blanques.

Why else would we call it Lagrimas d'Aur ("Tears of Gold" in Occitan)?


Sylviane will be in charge of the tiller and the till at Rives-Blanques for the next two weeks, and will be happy to help you, while we defend the Ocean Race Trophy on the Irish Sea in a dinghy of the Ette Class called .... BlanquEtte. But even in absentia, a click on will release you from August's Vine Lines.

Home - Wines - Diary of a Vineyard - Twitter

For armchair climbers: the ascent of Rives-Blanques


June 30 , 2010