A monthly update on the wines, the vines, and the times at Rives-Blanques.

Everything happened in Limoux this month. The longest, oldest carnival in the world came to an end (finally), after an exhausting, some say exhilarating, three-month marathon. One week later, Limoux's wine cooperative Sieur d'Arques, lately in the news for all the wrong reasons (the case of the fake pinot), put itself in the news for all the right ones: the famous Toques & Clochers auction of barrels of chardonnay, the second most important in the world. This marketing masterstroke, now in its 21st year, centres on some of the wine cooperative's specially selected fields, which are treated separately just as if they were private vineyards. The event is a party to end all parties.

This is a double rainbow, caught yesterday arching over the Rives-Blanques chardonnay field, right next door to the chosen Toques & Clochers field belonging to one of the Coop's grapegrowers. None of Limoux's private vineyards participate in the auction, for the simple reason that they are not part of the Cooperative they make their own wine. But we do all applaud the good news that prices were up 10% this year, with 102 barrels of chardonnay and six of red wine netting € 478.000 between them - the most expensive chardonnay going for something like €30 or so per bottle, if you include fees and so on. So now we have proof positive that a pot of gold really does lie pretty close to the bottom of that rainbow.

In fact, in a business beleaguered by bad times, things generally seem to be looking up. We found the ProWein trade fair in Dusseldorf last week to be very pro wine indeed, with a palpable buzz of business (le bouz de biznèz, as our colleagues call it). The high point for us was definitely this: a presentation of Languedoc wines by the only person in the world embodying the talent of three tremendous titles - Germany's Best Sommelier, the World's Best Sommelier and Master of Wine. We were honoured indeed that celebrity sommelier Markus del Monego chose our Cuvée de l'Odyssée as one of two white wines for his presentation to the wine world at ProWein ... the very same chardonnay growing under that rainbow.

It's been a good month for chardonnay all together. Here is The Spectator's wine writer Simon Hoggart, suggesting that the Rives-Blanques chardonnay Pays d'Oc 2009 (chardonnay-chenin) is full of spring - a hopeful thought, considering that we were snowed in yet again this month, and the mountains blocking our skyline are still lashed with snow. But for the record, "it is the perfect spring wine, deliciously light, yet capable of standing up to hearty meals". In fact, just what the bunny ordered for Easter.

And to our friends celebrating Easter, we wish you good food, good wine, good company and good times.

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March 31, 2010