Vine Lines - March 2009

This comes to you in the last hour of the last day of the gigantic German wein-fest, ProWein, as we leave with defeated feet and heightened hopes. One thing is sure: the world's wine buyers are being led by the nose to sniff out good price-quality bargains more than ever before. In fact, just like Thomas Jefferson, when he was confronted by a dismally diminished wallet after stepping down as President of the US . “So get me a good Limoux wine” the great writer, thinker, philosopher, and wine connoisseur ordered.

Someone else who knows more than almost anyone about wine is The Best Sommelier in the World, the Swede, Andreas Larsson. This is probably the single most difficult to achieve distinction in the wine world (the second being The Second-Best Sommelier in the World). Larsson was asked to taste the whole range of Languedoc country wines for Tasted Magazine, and like Jefferson, his eye also fell on a good wine from Limoux: in this case, the Rives-Blanques Chardonnay du Domaine (in the upcoming June issue ).

Meanwhile, back at the farm, things are pretty near perfect. A Winter worth calling Winter flowed seamlessly into a Spring worth calling Spring, and the best part of it is that we are completely on top of it all. Frankly it isn't like this every year. In the field everything is pruned, tied down, ploughed and weeded, and there's enough groundwater for the vines to motor on gently right up to the harvest. In the winery, the first of the 2008 appellation wines has been taken out of its barrels for bottling next month and here's the good news: it's the most original “good Limoux” of all, our out-of-stock mauzac, Cuvée Occitania.

You may well wonder if there actually is life in Limoux after wine. While we were busy ProWeining and dining here in Dusseldorf, the world's oldest and staunchly longest Carnival finally came to a close in Limoux, with the trial and burning at the stake of the King of Carnival at the "Night of the Blanquette". So the answer is clearly no, there is none. This year's Carnival King was a stuffed figure of a fireman, and why he of all people should have been condemned to such a fate hardly bears thinking about.

And as we speak, Limoux's beleaguered Cooperative Sieur d'Arques gears up for the event of the year next week, the Toques & Clochers auction of chardonnay – the second most important event of its kind after the Hospices de Beaune. They too aspire to a ‘good Limoux', and have selected the very best fields of their 600-odd grape-growing members to make the best wine they can for this auction. The price of these en primeurs is of intense interest to us: one of those prime fields chosen from the best they have, happens for historical/accidental reasons to lie in our vineyard, cheek-to-jowl with our own top chardonnay. Another "good wine from Limoux" ...

And now we must run to catch the flight home, but we will be back again next month - unless, of course, you email

31 March 2009