Winter has been relatively mild here in the Languedoc, as elsewhere. However, the last 2 weeks have seen definite signs of the first days of Spring. The blossom, insects and flowers have appeared, and, as I write the temperature is a very pleasant 23C on the terrace. All the flowers below were photographed in the vineyards of Mas Coutelou.
As the weather warms the vineyard beckons. Pruning is complete at Mas Coutelou, bravo Julien. But other tasks await. The dry winter lasted until a couple of weeks ago when 55mm fell at Puimisson in one day. Until then Jeff was reluctant to plough, the dry soils would be easily scattered by wind and the ground cover helps to retain what little moisture there was. With the rain it was time to lightly plough. Not deep, 15cm or so as the soil was still dry and compact beneath and Jeff doesn’t want to disturb the vine roots or the wildlife which lives in the soils.
As I wrote in the last article it was time to plant new vegetation. Trees and bushes to protect the vineyards from careless neighbours and to provide biodiversity in an area of monoculture. Biodiversity which in itself will repay the vines by attracting birds, bats and insects which will feed on potential vine pests. So, olive, apple, hazelnut and cherry trees, rose bushes and many other varieties were planted on a lovely Spring day.
In Rome vineyard (where else?) I found the first buds of 2016 at Mas Coutelou on some muscat vines. Lichen on some vines also showed the good quality of air in that special place.
And then came Thursday March 17th. Where had Spring gone? We worked in Font D’Oulette through a day of firstly drizzle, then steadily increasing amounts of rain. Replanting vines which had not grown and also grafting new vines onto root stock already in place. Traditional Languedoc varieties such as Aramon Noir and Cinsault but also something rare, indeed unique. For more on that you will have to wait until next time however.
By the end of the day, as the pioche (hoe) was so heavy with mud as to be unusable and the soil turned to mud, we were cold, soaked to the skin and muddy from head to foot. And yet, inspired by a lunchtime magnum of Flower Power, the wine made from this very vineyard, we worked happily in the knowledge that our labours will bear fruit. And what lovely fruit!
Spring is here, the vineyards are coming to life again, a joyful time of year.