This week, we are taking a short break from our tour of the Rhône to reflect on old vines. ‘Vielles vignes’ have long been celebrated for their ability to produce better wine – an assertion mainly to do with the associated low yields. Dotted among the rudely healthy old vines in our Cairanne ‘Les Six Terrasses’ vineyard were some vines in need of a little attention. Back in January we photographed the process of rejuvenating an old vine, from ivy covered to expertly pruned and ready for Spring….
Our last stop in Cairanne before moving on to the other villages of southern Rhône is Font Crozes. An exposed and windswept vineyard, its original swooping slope, cascading down from the woodland at its brow, has now been fashioned into three broad terraces. Here in 2011 we planted Mourvèdre.
This week we travel west back down the slopes of La Montée de Ventabren to Saint Andéol and our oldest Grenache Noir vineyard. Here, protected by the wood that borders the plot, can be found vines dating back to 1946.
The vineyard holds two secrets; an old grotto hidden in the adjoining wood where long ago villagers fashioned charcoal in a ‘charbonnière; ‘and secondly a new planting of Carignan Noir! We at Boutinot Rhône are determined to retain this old southern French variety in the vineyards of Cairanne. Carignan Noir has been misunderstood and unfairly maligned: when produced from low yields its grapes have the potential to produce wine of incredible structure and acidity, a perfect counterfoil to rich, heady Grenache Noir.
Following on from last week’s post about Boutinot’s Syrah vineyards in Cairanne, we now move up to the top of La Montée de Ventabren to our two plots of old bush vine Grenache Noir, planted just under 50 years ago in 1968.
Diversity is the beauty of the Côtes du Rhône Villages in this valley of ours and over the next few weeks we will be visiting its vineyards and villages, revealing their individual characteristics as we go. Our journey starts with a two week ‘stay’ in Cairanne, Boutinot’s home in the Rhône since 2010. We will also be exploring our approach to winemaking and vine growing, which is one of allowing nature to take its course as much as possible both in the vineyard and the cellar – a principle we refer to as ‘letting the wine decide’ .
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