Tuesday, 10 November 2009

With the 2008 Vent de Folie racked and blended from barrel last Friday, there is now plenty of cleaning and moving of the empty barrels.

The big Vent de Folie Grenache-based wine that has occupied the barrels for one year has absorbed a fair amount of tannin and flavour from the new barrels but there is still some top notch flavour left which will be perfect for ageing a more subtle wine.

However before they can be refilled the attention to detail must continue and even empty barrels need love and care! In order to keep every barrel in the best condition each one will be rinsed for 3-4 minutes with hot water to open the pores and remove as much of the wine that has seeped into the wood as possible, followed by a cold rinse to shrink them back closed.

The inside of the barrels will then be steamed for 5 minutes using our special barrel steamer (basically a very big kettle!). All barrels are then turned upside down, drained overnight, then a sulphur candle is burned in each barrel to stop them from getting vinegar aromas. So as you can see, empty barrels are almost just as much work as full barrels!!

Once the cellar guys are in full swing I hurriedly make my way to Carcassonne to check on the Viognier and Sauvignon Blanc. They taste better and better each visit and the varietal character is really standing out now! All good here at Domaine Lalande so I leave to stay the night in Perpignan as I need to be in Maury tomorrow first thing to check the 2009 Vent de Folie.

It’s non-stop – no sooner has the 2008 been taken out of barrel than the 2009 is ready to go in! The drive down from Narbonne to Perpignan was horrendous as a very cold and strong northerly Tramontane wind was in fine form blowing at 120km per hour, causing havoc for the last of the holiday caravans and mobile homes returning from Spain! The wind had however cleared and swirled the cloud away allowing me to be greeted by the mighty snow-capped Canigou mountain, beautifully skirted by the Pyrenees' foothills.

Had a lovely dinner in the Vauban restaurant opposite the Castillet in Perpignan and tasted a stunning '2007 No.3 castelmaure' red wine from the Corbières.


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