Vine Lines - November 2008

The last leaf has fallen off the last vine, temperatures have plummeted and the mountains are covered in snow. Pruning is about to begin – 96,800 vines, all individually addressed by hand, one by one - a cold and contemplative job. It is as if the vines know the game is up; and indeed, the game is up: two weeks ago the last tank bubbled its last breath of fermentation, drawing a line under the vinification of the 2008 harvest. Now it's a question of nursing the new wine through to the bottle.... and preparing the vines for the next wine.

And so it was a big day, last Tuesday, when our consultant Georges Pauli came to taste the new wine with us for the first time since it had finished fermenting. You always say we always say it was a great vintage, but the truth is, 2008 looks brilliant - well, okay, not bad … at least pretty good for the wines we were working on. You could compare it to bidding a grand slam in Bridge when you've got all the Aces in your hand and your partner has all the Kings and Queens . A walk-over. Winning cards fell like manna from heaven, and to be honest, it's difficult to wipe the smile off your face when you're playing a vintage with so many trumps up its sleeve.

So November's been pretty good to us, and not least were the benedictions from the Benelux . The month opened with the selection of our chardonnay, Cuvée de l'Odyssée 2005 as one of the top five white wines from one of the top five Dutch importers in one of the top national dailies, de Telegraaf. It ended with Gert Crum, a high-flying wine writer from that low-lying country, declaring our blend, La Trilogie 2006 as his ‘discovery of the year' and “a wine not to be missed” in the new 2009 Restaurant Guide, Lekker.

Across the border in Belgium, the prolific food and wine writer Frank van der Auwera, awarded a coveted Oscar to our chenin blanc, Dédicace in his latest 2009 Wine Guide. At the same time, the Prosper Montagné gala dinner celebrating the selection of Belgium's Chef of the Year greatly honoured us by serving three Rives-Blanques wines (Dédicace, Blanquette and Xaxa) - this really hit home, as the legendary Prosper Montagné, granddaddy of all celebrity chefs and author of the Larousse Gastronomique, was actually born just 20 minutes away from us in Carcassonne some 150 years ago.

But Rives-Blanques wines are not necessarily on the menu at the Master
Class in our tasting room next Thursday, when Master of Wine Matthew Stubbs conducts a tasting tour of Languedoc-Roussillon wines for our favourite local customers: vaux le voyage if you're in the region… and no, not even our Cuvée de l'Odyssée 2005, recommended (also) by Figaro's special wine supplement last Saturday as one of the eight best white wines of Languedoc-Roussillon, will be poured. (But one of the other seven will be.)

We will leave you in peace over the festive season, and will return again next year. In the meantime, we wish you health, happiness and joy - and hope that when it comes to wine, your Christmas will be White … and your New Year free of troubles and full of bubbles.

November 30, 2008

If you would like a 2009 Vine Lines-free year, please email