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Vine Guardians News

News April 2023

As we move into the 3rd year of the Guardians program we are looking at new ways of working and keeping you up to date with the happenings in the Guardians vineyard.  We have reached the conclusion that social media, the Puy’s website as well as this website are the best ways to communicate with you. It allows us to post regularly and to bring you news as it happens rather than relying on a bi-monthly newsletter and so this is the last of these missives.

Below are links to the new Facebook and Instagram pages. Communicating this way is open to everyone and not just Guardians so if you have friends and family you think may like to follow us  and maybe even become a Guardian one day please invite them along.

April Budbreak Walk took place in a vineyard close to the Canal du Midi and although it was a blowy day it was dry and the sun shined for us and we had a great turnout. We began the walk alongside the canal and headed for a Syrah vine where Emmanuel explained the training system he uses there which is called ‘Guyot’. This training system is sometimes called ‘Replacement Cane’ because at the end of each year all the canes that held the grapes will be pruned off apart from one which will then be laid along the wire for the next year’s growth. This method is generally used to encourage a higher yield and therefore only used for varieties that tend towards too low a yield, for although high yield should be avoided when aiming for quality wine, too low a yield may make that vineyard unsustainable.

The Syrah vines are planted on land that is just outside the Minervois appellation and Emmanuel therefore sells this fruit to be made into Pays d’Oc wine. A short walk up a slope in the direction of the canal brought us into the appellation and here Emmanuel has planted a block of Vermentino (Rolle in French) and right next to it Viognier which is now allowed in Minervois appellation wines. It was interesting to see that the Viognier vines were budding whereas the Vermentino had hardly begun which demonstrated nicely how some varieties are early and others are late budders. This also translates into the harvesting time so we can expect Vermentino to be one of the last of the white grapes to be harvested.

Emmanuel has trained these vines along a wire using a method called goblet which usually does not involve a wire. You will see goblet vines in Beaujolais and all across the south of France, in Languedoc as well as in the Côtes du Rhône and also in Spain as many Mediterranean vines do not need a wire for support and therefore this method is ideal. They look like an arm thrust up through the earth with gnarled fingers curling towards the sky. So why has Emmanuel trained them along a wire? The answer is to open the ‘hand’ and allow air to circulate easily and aerate the vines during times of humidity and so reduce the chance of mildew.

Back at the winery Leanne & Emmanuel had laid on a delicious apéro and gave us all the chance to taste the 2022 Grenache based wines for the first time and I can report to those who couldn’t make it to the walk, that they are all delicious.


A note from Emmanuel 
At the vineyard: All the vines are now showing buds, except the latest budding vine which is our Cabernet Sauvignon. Emmanuel is very busy at the vines now turning soil to take away grass and weeds and to activate the bacteria in the organic matter which turns into minerals that the plant can absorb. The vines need this now and throughout the “green” growing phase. We are now starting to place the tabs of Pheromones, these are “sexual confusion” defences for the vines to protect them against the worms of eudemis “european grapevine moth” and cochylis moths. At this time of year, we are also lowering the wires at the vines before the buds get too big so as to not break any. These wires are raised back up gradually two levels during the season as the branches grow longer. 
At the cave: Not much is happening in the cave at the moment in terms of winemaking, as the reds are aging a little longer before their bottling towards the end of May…. 


The 2022 Vintage
After the walk we enjoyed a tasting of the 2022 white and rosé and I think I can say on everyone’s behalf that the wines are excellent.

The white Sous la Cabane is this year a blend of 40% Vermentino, 40% Viognier, and 60% Grenache Blanc – so no Marsanne as Emmanuel was not happy with the quality of the grapes last year. The wine has intense citrus and stone fruit character that lingers long on the palate and is very well balanced. We are not the only ones to think it’s top quality as at the Maison des Vins du Minervois they have awarded it a “Coup de Coeur”..!  Price €8 per bottle.

Doiselle, the rosé is excellent as usual. This year it is 60% Grenache Gris, 30% Grenache Noir and 10% Syrah and is beautifully pale with intensive flavour of strawberry and cranberry with a lovely peppery finish. Price €7.50 per bottle

Peyrotte, the Grenache Noir based cuveé is not yet bottled but will be 75% Grenache and 25% Syrah and will be ready sometime in June. Price €10.50 per bottle

Grenache Guardians will receive 2 of each of the above and all Guardian can purchase them at the prices above less 10% so if you’d like some put your order in directly with Leanne.

The top cuveé Clos de Matelles is still resting in barrel as are a number of other wines which will be tasted at the barrel tasting on May 12th and with your input we will decide if there will be a cuveé de Parrain, the special Guardians cuveé created last year – I wonder what it will be this year..???