My favourite Coutelou wine, as you well know by now, is La Vigne Haute made only in the best vintages from Syrah grapes grown in La Garrigue vineyard. The vines face north on a slope meaning they are not overexposed to the most extreme heat of the Languedoc sun. In vintages which Jeff Coutelou considers less than ideal the grapes go into other wines or are bottles under a different label such as On Ne Peut Pas Vraiment Dire Que. La Vigne Haute appeals to me because it offers rich red fruit flavours, typical of the best Languedoc wines with a nice streak of acidity and minerality to balance the fruit. It is, in my opinion, every bit as good as much more expensive Syrahs from the Northern Rhone or Australia.
Showing the position next to the existing Syrah vines
Three years ago Jeff was able to buy the adjoining parcel of land, took out the vines of the previous owner and left the soils to refresh themselves as well as allowing them to become certifiably organic. On Wednesday April 5th it was time to plant new vines, an extension of the Syrah vineyard. Jeff had intended to plant a month earlier but the ground has been unusually dry for the time of year, rainfall has been lamentably low. There has been a little more rain and the plants were ready so it was time to go. I had intended to be there for this special day but family commitments left me in England though my wife Pat was able to be there and take the photos you see here other than the two by Jeff’s niece Flora..
Cords to help keep straight lines, the vines with wax to protect the young plants
I wrote about planting a vineyard previously when we set up the terrace at Peilhan. The process was the same here of course. The new vines won’t produce grapes for a couple of years and not of the quality necessary to be included in La Vigne Haute for several more years after that so patience is required. Jeff’s commitment to planting for the future is admirable, even more that he also planted more trees and shrubs around the vineyard, plants which will not even be fully mature in his lifetime.
Rows of vines planted, watering afterwards
Even on a day of hard work there is always time to enjoy yourself when working with Jeff and what other bottle would he open this day to go with the cheese and charcuterie?