This week we are in the vineyard with Joël Dupuy, the chef de culture at Château
Pichon-Longueville Baron, who will show us what we are doing in the vineyard at the moment, the effeuillage.
As you will see, this process demands a lot of careful manual work: it is
designed to give the bunches of grapes maximum access to the available sunshine,
at the same time giving them protection from the hotter afternoon sun by only
removing leaves on the side facing the rising sun. It is just one of the myriad
tasks that must be meticulously performed in order to achieve the goal of having
the most perfect grapes possible at harvest time for making the wine of Château
I was at Mas Belles Eaux, our vineyard in the Languedoc, a couple of weeks ago for a spectacular tasting of our wines against about 90 wines from all over the region. This is something we like to do from time to time to see where we are in relation to others, and to get a good feeling of what is going on in the region. This was a particularly extensive tasting, as it is now nearly ten years since we have been at Belles Eaux, so we were able to combine it with a vertical of all our wines there since we started.
We arrived the night before the first big tasting just in time to catch the “Nocturnes” at Belles Eaux. If you click on this link http://www.mas-belleseaux.com/en/vin-languedoc/les-nocturnes, you will see what this is about: If you are ever in the region (between Caux and Pezenas) on a summer’s evening, it is well worth a visit, though you should call to check which nights it is happening and whether there are any tables free.
I was very encouraged by how well our wines showed at the big tasting, which was done blind, but also thrilled by how many great wines are being made in the Languedoc now. Our reason for coming here in the first place was our belief that this region has some of the most exciting vineyard terroirs in France, and that over time the quality potential of these sites would be realized. This seems to me to be exactly what is happening. I don’t think my own tasting notes are of much interest except to me, but Andrew Jefford who was there wrote a great piece about it in his Jefford on Monday column in decanter.com which I think captures the spirit of what is going on in the Languedoc right now.
Find below a short video clip which gives you some idea of Belles Eaux and what we are doing, and a great monologue from our brilliant winemaker Cedric Loiseau which conveys clearly his feelings for the vineyard he looks after and its wines. Probably the most important thing that I do in my job is to make sure that each of our properties is run by someone passionately devoted to the vineyard in his or her care, and as you will see from the way Cedric speaks, he is perfectly qualified! The result shows in the wines, as our tasting confirmed.