Vine Lines - September 2008

We write to you in the dark hours of this early morning with equal parts of elation and exhaustion, right slap-bang in the middle of the harvest. Exactly one half of Rives-Blanques has been picked : by hand the mauzac and chardonnay for our Blanquette de Limoux and a new Crémant (note the double bubbles!); and by machine, chardonnay for our Country Wine ... and sauvignon blanc (note the new wine line). We've had our moments, and right now is one of them, pinned to the sorting table between the machine-harvesting from 03h:00 to 07h.30 this morning, and the hand-harvesting starting in exactly half an hour, just when the sun rises red and round over man and machine alike - the one departing, the other arriving.

Who would have thought that after a warm and dry winter, and a wet and cold spring, followed by a summer best forgotten as soon as possible, that everything would come together in unbroken, unspoken perfection, right from Day 1? And all blown along by a brilliant north westerly breeze? We can personally vouch for the clear cold nights seamlessly sewn into staggeringly beautiful days, because we've been living them round the clock; and the good news is, this run of luck is set to continue right to the very end. From here on, it's a gentle homeward trot, as we hand-pick – a legal requirement - the grapes for our four Appellation Limoux wines. If we were to say that things are looking good, that would be understating the case … but we're not saying anything at all. Not until it's in the bag.


A backward glance at previous vintages bodes well for this one, and the new crop of 2009 wine guides seems to confirm this. Different wines for different Guides, but we are glad to be in them all: Bettane & Desseauve; Meilleurs Vins de France; Meilleurs Vins à Petits Prix; Patrick Dussert-Gerber; Gilbert & Gaillard; Hugh Johnson's nifty little number, and various others. The last to come out is this month's venerable Guide Hachette 2009, and though we're not great fans of its selection process, we are frankly relieved that our record remains unbroken: every single vintage from Rives-Blanques has been included to date (this time it's La Trilogie and the Blanquette making the cut).


Really making the scene this month is the Chardonnay du Domaine, the Rives-Blanques Country Wine, which was awarded a Silver Medal by MUNDUSvini in Germany , reputedly the biggest international wine competition in the world. You may well argue that biggest isn't necessarily best, but there's no arguing that it isn't big - and we're very pleased that our entry-level wine held its own, and stood out in the crowd. A nice addition to the medals it has already won this year from the Competition of Environmentally-Made Wines in France, and the British International Wine Challenge.

We're also holding our own, but still keeping fingers crossed for these remaining ten days or so. If the daily trials, tribulations and triumphs of this harvest interest you, please click on “Diary of a Vineyard” at www.rives-blanques.com . Failing that, we'll be back again this time next month with more on the rumpus at Rives-Blanques , unless of course you say No! In which case, please click on takemeoff@rives-blanques.com

September 30, 2008