back again and waiting for spring

No news should always be good news – but it’s not exactly what you are looking for, when you come back to this blog. So I have to explain, why you didn’t find any new post during the last 2 years.

Well, it’s mostly good news: since November, the wines from our 2011 harvest have found their way down into the barrel-cellar by going through the bigger model of our traditional wine-presses.

cleaning the wine-press after harvest 2011

What we call our “press cake” had a beautiful colour and went into the garden to join the compost.

press-cake

press-cake

We did the usual washing up and then stored it all away, hoping to need the bigger model again for the next harvest.

All you never wanted to know about pruning vines:

When the last autumn leaves had fallen, we started one of the most important works in the vineyard: pruning – which means preparing the next harvest, by deciding, how many buds we will have in spring, so how many grapes will be possible and finally which quantity of harvest we will have in autumn . At least that’s the theoretical part – between this decision and the final result, there are all the non controllable things that can happen – frost, hale, grape diseases or – like very often during the last years – wild animals in love with your grapes…

Bur let’s stick to the theory: I started with the grape variety, which needs the longest period to ripen its grapes: in our case, that’s the Mourvedre – starting late in spring and asking for a long sunny, but not too hot period in late summer and far into autumn, to give us it’s best.

old pruning scissors

old pruning scissors

For years, I used the traditional pruning scissors for this – till I started to suffer terribly from aching arms – especially, if I spend the day in the wines and the evenings at my computer…

electrical pruning scissors

electrical pruning scissors

And so I finally it was a great progress, to have electrical scissors with a battery back on your back, which have also the advantage, to leave one hand free, to collect the woods you cut away: makes work much easier –

electrocoup

electrocoup

and – joined with a orthopaedic arm stand for my mouse hand at the computer, I can say that my arms are like new:-) and I’m no longer afraid, when pruning season arrives…

pruning

pruning

As we want to obtain ripe grapes with concentrated flavours, I prune severely: 3 arms with only one apparent bud – so theoretically enough new wood in spring, to give 6 new branches with around 5 grapes for the whole plant to nourish.

Mourvedre pruned severely

Mourvedre pruned severely

As you can see, we use the traditional form for most of our grape varieties: it’s called Gobelet around here – it’s well adapted for varieties which have tough, upstanding branches which don’t need any external support in spring and summer – ideal for Mourvedre.

And our special climate so far during winter 2011/2012

and then, after a very mild period in December/January, which made us believe, that nature would start its spring circuit very early this year, buds nearly breaking out, even on grapes in some region, winter arrived heavily in February even in the South of France – with lots of snow in many regions, and in the Languedoc with cold winds and lower temperatures than we ever had since 1985  due to a well named Russian cold front and everything got paralysed:

ice wonderland at -10°C

so I had to stay inside and wait for better conditions to continue the work in the wines.

And off and away to show our wines!

 

Well, you may be reassured, I find enough things to do – there is cellar work and the preparation of our OFF participation in the great event of VINISUD 2012 next week, well named “Vignerons Hors Piste”, which means “outside the main stream roads”, but also skiing in deep snow away from the prepared  slopes….

hors piste - off the main stream roads

Vinisud is one of the biggest French wine-trade-fairs for professional buyers. It unites winemakers from all around the Mediterranean Sea in Montpellier, our Languedoc capital, and attracts many  international retalers and journalists. And as a small winery, we prefere a cosy off on Tuesday, at the Aeroport Hôtel, not far from the official expositon, where we are only 25 winemakers united in the same spirit of mostly organic winemaking and with more time and space, to present our babies to less but relaxed visitors than inside the great show. You can see some picture of our 2010 edition of this event on our common French blog.

So if you’re around in Europe and the South of France in February, on Tuesday 22, you’re welcome!

More information in English about Vinisud and it’s ons and offs on the very informative and sometimes even humorous blog of Ryan O’Oconnell , a young American guy, living as a winemaker and wine geek in the Languedoc.

I’ll tell you more about the results in my  next post… still waiting for spring to arrive….

 

 

Back from Vinexpo at Bordeaux – off and in

Three days of and away to Bordeaux at the beginning of this week – what a difference from our quiet valley of Lisson. Even if Bordeaux is a small provincial town compared to Paris or London, during VINEXPO, the most famous international wine trade fair pour professional buyers, it takes the air of a big city, with 40 000 visitors from all over the world, who come to see thousands of winemakers, who make their best to find new clients. Just have a look at the photos taken inside Vinexpo, which a fellow wine-blogger published two days ago, to see, that they deploy lots of pomp and circumstances, to attract attention and win the war of selling wines.

Bordeaux wine marketing at Vinexpo photo: Eric Bernardin

Bordeaux wine marketing at Vinexpo photo: Eric Bernardin

When I first saw that photo with the gleaming luxury car, I wondered, whether you would get it as first price of a lottery or if it would be given as an extra bonus to the most successful importer – but I think, like all the beautiful young girls in uniforms, it was just meant as an eye-catcher – sex sells, but sport-cars too:-)…

All around this official place, where black suits and ties are still a majority, even on a hot summer day and where you have to put on your smoking, when you are part of the VIP section, invited to one of the even more select evening receptions of the more famous Chteaux of the region.

I didn’t attend the official exposition halls, too much noise, too many people, too much choice, too much of everything for me, to be able to taste serenely and appreciate – I’ve noticed that often enough during my past years at PROWEIN, the other important European international wine trade fair at Duesseldorf, my home town, in Germany.

Place de la Bourse

Place de la Bourse

So I just discovered some of the impressing 19th century buildings of Bordeaux, which tell the story of it’s glory – with big avenues, huge squares, its impressing banks of the Garonne (which I called a river (riviere) by asking my way, to learn that this important flow is a fleuve).

banks of the Garonne

banks of the Garonne

But I also discovered the less glamorous off parts of the city, just turning around a corner or following one of the cours a little bit further on from the center.

quiet popular square away from the center

quiet popular square away from the center

closed restaurant in the center

closed restaurant in the center

Wine under all its form is omnipresent at Bordeaux, of course. Whether it is as vines as decoration in front of a wine bar or even to sell in a local flower shop (135 Euros – more expensive than a lot of bottles of wine)

vine in the midle of Bordeaux

vine in the middle of Bordeaux

Or if it is the special wine-books area of one of the last and biggest private book shops of France, la librairie Mollat, where I spend one hour lingering around their international choice of books about all subjects about and around wine.

Mollat: biggest independant bookshop in France

Mollat: biggest independant bookshop in France

I was allowed to run through the bookshelves and open all the books, without being bothered and even to take some pictures:

wine books at librairie Mollat, Bordeaux

wine books at librairie Mollat, Bordeaux

A readers and book collectors dream:-)!

As exciting as my discovery of Bordeaux was my first couchsurf experience, a volunteer-based worldwide network connecting travelers with members of local communities, who offer free accommodation and/or advice. Learning that there would be no bed at a hotel available under 230 Euros per night and having 3 nights to spend, I looked for an alternative solution – came across the couchsurfing web-page, dared to write to one of its Bordeaux members, a bit shy, because I could see, that the majority of the members could have easily been my sons or daughters, and was received with so much friendliness and warmth on two couches during my stay, that I immediately became an addict of the system!

Well I have not yet started to tell you about the main reason of my voyage: our first public OFF meeting of the European blogging winemakers at Chteau Luchey Halde – I think, I’ll have to leave that for my next post – my vines are waiting for me outside…

to be continued...soon

to be continued...soon

I just can reassure you, that we didn’t have any difficulties with the VINEXPO officials – we were far enough away from their main entrance and perhaps more considered as the usual inoffensive cannibals than as a real commercial concurrency.