Monthly Archives: October 2010

Colours of Autumn- a key to vine health

The colours in the vineyard at this time of year are an interesting indication of which terroirs suffered, or not, from the hydric stress this summer.
The dry conditions in Bordeaux in July and August (20% less rainfall this year compared to the average) had a very different effect depending upon the soil and subsoil but also, perhaps more importantly, upon cultivation techniques used.
A lot of properties using, more labour intensive ploughing and sustainable agricultural methods found that they suffered less than some other properties.
Now the leaves are turning, the vines that are still green are the ones that suffered less than the vines that have already turned or are losing their leaves.
It’s also a time for the vineyard managers to check on the health of their vines.


Vines such as this one are showing signs of esca; a fungal disease causing problems through the world and previous associated with hotter regions than Bordeaux but is a more common sight here now.

These however show signs of mineral deficiency more easily remedied by
judicious use of fertilizer in the winter months.
It is not just the vines that are affected by the hot and dry summer.
The show of autumn colours on other shrubs and trees is spectacular here this year.
Come visit.

2 Nights, 5 stars and more

Two very different approaches to Michelin star style in the Northern Rhone this week.

Paul Bocuse is a classic, as traditional as French cuisine gets and the training ground for so many of todays top chefs. Not only is the cuisine an institution but so is Mr Bocuse who, well into his eighties, still comes into the dinning room and personally welcomes all his clients as he did with us Sunday night. The classic dishes of truffle soup, filets of sole and poulet de Bresse with Morilles are as good as they always have been and where else can you get so much politically incorrect cream in one meal?

Down the road 2 star Patrick Henrioux at La Pyramide is another class act, the perfect mix of classic skill and a very innovative take using light spices, amazing design skills with fruit an vegetables and an impeccable wine service with a cellar of ancient bottles dating back to Fernand Point that defies the imagination

The old and the new spoilt for choice but there’s more , cross over to right bank to the riverside Beaurivage in Condrieu for a surprise, the cuisine has always been delightful but the quality and elegant interpretation of traditional oval and very season far has definitely gone up a notch since my last visit a couple of years ago.

Next stop Valence!

A new rising star in the Northern Rhone

In fact there’s nothing new about Pierre-Jean Villa. His history has taken him from
Burgundy at such illustrious addresses as Clos de Tart, working with Sylvian Petiot through Boisset and back to his native Chavanny in the Cote Rotie. After having worked with Vins de Vienne, in which he is still a partner, and in association with Olivier Decelle for a Burgundian he has now launched his own independent operation

2010 will see the release of his first vintages and by the end of the year he should finish his new cellar which will also have 2 guest rooms.

Get in line for his Cote Rotie, Condrieu, Saint Joseph and Vins de Pays, Seyssuel. Watch this space over the next few years as his newly planted Condrieu and Saint Joseph white plots come into production.

They are set to be as vibrant and charming as he is!

Unusual vineyard pests

You may have heard of the oedemis butterflys that damage the vines and grapes but rabbits?

As we have had such a dry summer the rabbits are hungry and thirsty and in areas where the soils are light with sandy and gravel, such as the Southern Medoc, they are helping themselves to the harvest

Here’s the proof in the vines at Château Paloumey, Cru Bourgeois from Haut Medoc
And if you don’t believe it’s rabbits – well here’s more proof.

We can control oedemis by sexual confusion, anyone got any great ideas for the rabbits?