Learning about wine, vines and vignerons whilst living in the Languedoc

Jeff’s New Year Card 2023

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Regular readers may recall that every January Jeff Coutelou sends out a Carte Des Voeux or greetings card to customers such as wine merchants and importers. This comes with a topical image, eg about elections, pensions. This year’s features recent the diversity of bottle shapes. Inside is a summary of the previous year and a glimpse of wines to come.

Previous examples of the Carte des Voeux

Here is my translation of Jeff’s card for 2023.

2022, a vintage which foresees the future?

Autumn 21, mild and dry, didn’t reassure that water levels in the soil would be restored but in March 22 abundant rain allowed the season to get going in favourable circumstances.

The most notable feature of the vintage was the warmth in temperature. The winter wasn’t cold, Spring was particularly hot and the summer saw a heatwave. Budding began at the end of March, and from May the various stages of vine phenology proceeded rapidly…. flowering was early and especially generous on those vines which were damaged by frost in 2021.


The first peak in temperature began mid June and and was followed by a long, hot and dry period until mid August. At the beginning of August this all led to us fearing a difficult vintage. The changing of colour in red grapes was not a smooth process, ripening became blocked. The vines had to dig deep to adapt to this extreme weather. We were expecting a small, concentrated vintage but a revitalising storm on August 14th brought life back to the vines. The grapes swelled up, berries changed colour, ripening advanced, harvest could begin…


They began on August 22nd (a week after our first estimate) and ended on September 9th. Cooler temperatures, especially at night, helped produce lovely ripening. The grapes were beautiful, abundant and seemed well balanced. The alcohol levels weren’t too high though acidity rather feeble.

By contrast there was a raised level of lactic bacteria in some of the cuvées which led to slow, rather languid end to fermentation. We had to intervene to keep on top of this and, in the end, the results were rather satisfying.

We carried out assemblages at the start of December and can announce the wines which should emerge this year.


Clairette: our 100% Clairette Blanc

Gris: Piquepoul, Riveyrenc and Grenache Gris all from direct pressing

Grosé: Grenache Gris, Terret and Carignan Blanc – made from macerated grapes, skin contact

Ploutelou: Cinsault, Aramon and Syrah

Le vin des amis: Cinsault, Syrah and grenache

Grenache mise de printemps: 100% Grenache


Classe: Syrah, grenache, Mourvedre

Tradition: a blend of old varieties in all three colours

La Vigne Haute: the Syrah of La Garrigue, first new version since 2018

Flambadou: Carignan Noir from Rec D’Oulette, first new version since 2017

Mourvedre: a beautiful Mourvedre bringing together fluidity, finesse and a lightness

Macabeu: aged in concrete egg

Other wines should also emerge through the course of the year, notably from the amphorae, the Muscat D’Alexandrie and a few surprises…

We, like all our colleagues, are finding it hard to get supplies of bottles and are subject to high price rises.

In the vines

A parcel of Xarello has been planted on the terraces of Peilhan, it’s a beautiful site and we would hope for a first, small harvest in 2024. This year we hope to plant a parcel of Syrah in La Garrigue, next to the existing one and hopefully this will bring La Vigne Haute in most years.

The work on the pond is finished, it is well filled with shelters for reptiles, insects birds and bats. This totem of biodiversity along the length of the hill watches over the Peilhan parcel. The first inhabitants have taken up residency. Fruit trees and Mediterranean plants surround it. The shrubs damaged by last year’s fire have been replaced. We have created a true haven of pece for flora and fauna.

It is tradition at the start of the year to send best wishes. The last few years have not spared us but we hope that this year will be more gentle.

Let 2023 be a year full of diversity.

Author: amarch34

I'm a recently retired (early!) teacher from County Durham in North east England. I am going to be spending most of the next year in the Languedoc leaarning about wines, vineyards and the people who care for both.

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