In the vines

It was a relatively cool, damp and overcast start to the growing season which put immediate disease pressure on the vines. The rain was welcome after the dry winter but the disease pressure wasn’t so welcome plus the mix of rain and some warmth added to a lot of work in the vineyard to manage rampant growth. Somehow we mostly resisted mildew with well-timed treatments albeit more than planned, having decided to carry out only sulfur/copper treatments this year.

April started cool and overcast with temperatures around 16 to 20º, finishing 21 to 25ºC. But only 10 days were truly sunny. There was a modest but welcome 17mm rainfall. The mistral blew hard for around 5 days and it was gusty most of the month.

May saw more rain and sunshine. Around 20 days were normally sunny, with temperatures starting around 22 to 25º and finishing 25 to 30º. But there was 125mm rainfall, above average and not the best timing but much needed, unusually stormy at the end of month.

June continued in similar vein, with 22 days sunshine, temperatures between 27 and 32º, and with 85mm rainfall, again not the best timing but welcome. It was again windy.

The wines

In the cellar, I bottled 3 wines this quarter. On April 19 I bottled Blanc and Rosé 2022. On May 9 I bottled Rouge 2021.

Blanc 2022: It’s my first year to bottle a whitefrom the same vineyard as the red. I wanted to make a white that has the same easy enjoyment as the red with the same unusual freshness and tension and sappy vegetal fruit. I haven’t always been a fan of Southern Rhône white and wanted to avoid the heaviness often found in whites here.

I made some test bottles of 2021 from the same vineyard as the red, a 50-50 blend of Grenache Blanc and Clairette, and more than a year on, it’s a pleasure and still very fresh..

Moreover, since I’d already bottled an Orange this year I wasn’t sure if I’d want to make a second wine from white grapes. But the quality was too good to ignore and the wine has a totally different aromatic palette from the Orange. It’s a classic blend of Grenache blanc and Clairette to which I’ve added 30% Rolle to give it some “edge”, a more salty vegetal character. It’s fresh, tense, fruity and only 12,5%. It’s available now but will benefit from waiting until September.

Rosé 2022: it’s the same blend as last year: 55% Cinsault and 45% Grenache Noir, with a long slow pressing to extract a bit more colour, a bit more red fruit, a bit more wine! It, too, is just 12,5%, fully ripe and fruity, more extrovert and fruity than the 2021 which reflects the warmth of the year.

What I’ve noticed with both wines is that they really improve with at least 3 months in the bottle. So while many producers are getting their whites and Rosés into the market within the year, I prefer to listen to the wine and wait. We’re drinking bucketloads of Rosé 2021 this summer and it’s just right and will probably continue to do so for the rest of this year and next.

Rouge 2021: it was a paradoxical year for reds, less warm than 2019, 2020 and 2022. 2021’s took forever to reveal themselves and I did more blending sessions than ever to get where I wanted to go. Following which the wine needed a long time in tank to settle and soften and integrate the structure. And then magic happened and the wine found its voice, as I was hoping, and it resembles a cross between the 2018 and 2020. There remain a couple of thousand bottles of 2020 so I expect to move on to 2021 in October.

Music

There was more old music playing this quarter than new. I continue to use the Tidal streaming service (compared to Spotify it’s a cleaner interface, with more artist and album information, plus the artists see a bit more revenue, and there’s much less AI-generated, auto-sequenced stuff – or none if you listen to albums and turn off autoplay).

New music

Everything But The Girl: Fuse. I’ve loved them and most of their adventures since Eden in 1984. The new album is a bit brief clocking in at just 35 minutes but is richly textured electronica, equal part dance and reflection.

Eddie Chacon: Sundown. Another brief album of soul electronica, more evenly upbeat than EBTG, the title is perfectly apt; Rosé on the terrace.

John Foxx: The Arcades Project. Crystalline piano-driven ambient. Perfect for morning zen moments with green tea and scoping out the day.

Esther Rose: Safe to Run. Girl with acoustic guitar delivers laid back country charm with poppy hooks.

The Vampires: Nightjar. Hypnotic, pure, relaxed, modern jazz that transports, beautifully played and produced.

Bobby Lee: Endless Skyways. 70’s sounding fuzztone electric guitar, western cinematic soundscapes.

The Avalanches: We Will Always Love You. From 2020 but recently discovered, perhaps most played album recently, sounding like a 2020’s update of classic 70’s concept album by 24 Carat Black, spatial soul with tons of samples and hooks. Joyous.

Old music

Rita Lee: Rita Lee (1980). Brazilan pop with brilliant, shiny, melodic hooks, tightly produced. She made dozens of great albums. A summer breeze.

Joe Gibbs, The Professionals: African Dub Chapter 3 (1978). Made for a Soundsystem this is huge Dub with tons of effects and totally modern-sounding.

McNeal and Niles: Thrust (1979). Languid jazz funk with hints of latin, washes of Rhodes keyboard, synth rich bass and waves of grooves.

Ike and Tina Turner: Feel Good (1972). Tina in sublime funky form dominates this album. Sleazy, relentless grooves. As good as it gets from an extraordinary artist.

The Southside Movement: The Southside Movement (1973). Funky soul from Chicago, upbeat, passionate, typical of the gems being unearthed today that didn’t get any traction at the time of making.

The Rhythm Makers: Soul On Your Side (1976). Another funk gem that veers a bit more into disco territory.

Led Zeppelin: Houses of the Holy (1973). We had the good fortune recently to be in a studio environment with some of the best professional audio equipment in the world. This sounded incredible. In particular the opener and No Quarter. Still sounds great in the car.

And that’s all for now. Happy drinking! Happy listening if it’s your thing!

Wishing you a wonderful summer.