Languedoc Vine Report #15 Master of Wine July 10th

JulietToday, we have something special on our Languedoc Vine Report.

By chance, I have a contact in the wine-growing sorority: a lady who not only holds the coveted Master of Wine qualification, but now owns her own vineyards and, together with her husband is developing her own range of fine wines under the Domaine Lou Cayla label.

Juliet Bruce Jones actually stands behind me in the Capestang Chorale Internationale where we are part of the soprano section. She has a beautiful voice. The only reason she stands on the back row is because she’s a tall lady. When it comes to knowledge about vines and winemaking, however, Juliet is right up there at the front.

As well as managing her own vineyards, she sources quality wines for international buyers and conducts tastings and workshops for consumers and trade.

I ask her to explain about the Master of Wine qualification; give us an insight into what it involves.

To obtain the Master of Wine qualification you have to pass a gruelling set of exams which test knowledge of all things wine, from viticulture and winemaking to marketing and selling to a global market. There are also 3 blind tasting papers where students have to identify 36 wines and answer questions on them. This requires a lot of practice and to keep a clear head it is vital to always spit the wine out! I passed the MW exam in 1998.
I want to know if it is mostly male-dominated.
There are 300 Masters of Wine worldwide, 90 of whom are women.
I know now I’m in the presence of vine royalty.
I’m thinking about dropping a curtsy.
I am curious about Juliet’s choice of location in France. I know Languedoc is the biggest wine-producing region in the world, but were there other reasons she chose to live here?
Minerve vines
We have always loved France and both my husband and I already spoke French so when we decided to leave the UK in 2004, France was the obvious choice. The Languedoc appealed as it has a wild, rugged beauty, like my native Scotland but with more sunshine and vines! Also, the fact that it doesn’t have a long history of fine wine production, unlike  Bordeaux or Burgundy, means that there is much more freedom to plant what you like, where you like. The great terroirs of the Languedoc are still being discovered so for a wine lover it is a tremendously exciting region.
I mention this year’s strange weather patterns. Those of you who’ve been following my Languedoc Vine Reports will be aware the weather has been unusual this year. I ask Juliet what makes for a good vintage?
Sufficient rain in winter to build up water reserves to see the vines through the summer (for non irrigated vineyards like ours). Good weather at flowering in May/June to ensure good fruitset, low humidity during the summer so fungicide treatments are kept to a minimum! Warm but not baking temperatures as excessive heat can cause cause severe vine stress and burn the berries. No heavy rain before or during harvest as that can dilute flavours and definitely no hail, which can be devastating. That is the weather wishlist but it rarely happens like that and yet good wines are made. This year we have had lots of rain but it has been very cold too and the vines are about 2 weeks behind last year. But it could still be a fabulous year.
I ask about future ambitions.
 Ambitions? To make a great Languedoc wine.
To learn how to rock climb.
To consistently sing top D with ease
Top D isn’t easy. In fact, top D is impossible for me. Juliet is referring to our choir’s recent productions of Carmina Burana where only Juliet could hit the top D in the score.
But if it’s on Juliet’s wish-list, I can guarantee she’s going to do it.
To find out more about Juliet and her wines, why not visit her website? You can contact her through her Minerve Wines website, too.
Juliet also blogs. Here. There’s also a link on her website.                      helpinghands
Juliet's vine harvest
2012 harvesting Syrah with some helping hands.
A visit to Domaine Lou Cayla is on the cards, I think.

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