Vine Lines - October 2008

A lot of talk around about the bursting of the liquid assets bubble … but the liquid assets at Rives-Blanques are bubbling and bursting quite happily, thank you. And you should hear them! This is the ultimate liquidity stress test: we tried (and failed) to pin a sound clip to this email, of two hundred furiously fermenting barrels announcing the end of the 2008 harvest. It was a picking-perfect vintage, from start (September 15) to finish (October 9), and it goes down in our books as one of the best ever: great grapes, perfect yield, fantastic weather, and faultless fermentation. Not everyone has the same story, and we have been very lucky indeed.

And as if the vines know the game is over, they've gone and gilded themselves in burnished gold and amber, while fires of amethyst and ruby rage across the neighbours' fields: autumn is spectacular here. The vines have done their bit, and now we have to do ours. So there's a lot of work in the cellar, and that includes stirring up the lees twice a week right through winter, and tasting. Tasting every second day, in fact. And watching the wines with a hawk eye. While outside, the land is being ploughed up ready to soak in the winter rain ... when it comes.

In the mean time, to paraphrase Titus Livius' famous words, Limoux's “wines of light” have become “wines o' flight” with a double first-class ticket : the Rives-Blanques mauzac, Cuvée Occitania 2007 is the ‘special wine' on board that KLM aircraft flying overhead right now; and Ireland's national carrier, Aer Lingus has just ordered all that remains of our chenin blanc, Dédicace 2006, for their Premier Class. This is really big news for a small vineyard : it's a very big sky for such small fry, and we feel most honoured, and proud of our high-flying wines .

Which means that we are moving on to Dédicace 2007 rather earlier than expected. Every year Dédicace is dedicated to some one else, and this vintage has the names of the long-suffering, ever-patient Rives-Blanques winemaker, Eric Vialade, and his wife of exactly one year, Nathalie, on its label. Eric planted our chenin blanc some 25 years ago, and always believed in the potential of the Rives-Blanques plateau for this Loire-based grape variety. As usual, he was right. A man of few words and many talents, Eric is nearly always right.


And if we ever doubted it, word reaches us today that Belgium's leading wine writer, Frank van der Auwera, has awarded a coveted 'Oscar' to Dédicace in his new Wine Guide coming out next month. We'll also be back again next month, unless you ask us to

October 31, 2008