Wednesday Vine Report #5

Vine report number five already. I can’t believe 5 weeks have passed since I began wondering what kind of grape our chosen vine was.

We know now: she’s a Merlot, and our baby is doing just fine. After rain through the week, our vine is showing vigorous growth.

Merlot vine

our Merlot shifting up a gear

There’s growth all along the leader in this midweek photograph. Here’s this morning’s picture.

Merlot in May

after a few days’ rain

Her sisters are doing nicely, too. Soon there’ll be more green than the brown of the earth.

Merlot vineyard

Merlot vineyard showing steady growth

Once these beauties get going, you can almost hear them growing. (I’m a writer, prone to fanciful thinking)

We’ve had a substantial amount of rain this week. The air cooled. There was fresh snow on the Pyrenees at the weekend, I’m told. Friends of friends couldn’t drive where they were supposed to be; they had no snow chains with them. When the wind blows from the southwest, over the peaks of the mountains, it cools everything down on our side. I had to rummage in my clothes storage boxes and drag out a couple of fleeces. We don’t expect cold winds at this time of year. But the walk through the vineyards is as lovely as ever and, even if you can’t actually hear the vines growing, you can smell the fresh green of them.

Across the lane, in the Chardonnay plantation, here’s the latest:


Chardonnay grapevines growing fast

Don’t they look fantastic? Oh, I’m imagining paella cooked on our outside gas burner in one of those huge circular shallow pans; the sounds of bubbling juices; the smell of mussels and saffron and prawns, maybe a few scallops and some chicken on the bone for extra juiciness AND dewy glasses of chilled Chardonnay, crisp and dry and definitely more-ish. Summer heaven.

I walked a different way back to the house. There are so many lanes criss-crossing the vineyard plantations, you can vary your route every day. You get to see a different view each time you turn a corner. I took this picture of poppies planning to use it as a header. All the pictures at the head of my pages are from my own photographs.

April poppies

April poppies along the vineyard lanes

Last week, I spotted drifts of blue flowers on furry, mauve stalks and couldn’t put a name to them.

Borage flowers

Borage flowers and stalks taste like cucumber






It’s borage and you can eat it. The flowers and stalks taste like cucumber and the darker leaves can be cooked and used like spinach. You can find out more about edible wild flowers here at the Edible Wild Food website.

Himself was with me this morning. Fancies himself as a bit of a David Bailey from time to time. He took these:

poppies on May 1st

May poppies – a photo by himself

I think the boy done good.

Along the lanes, there’s always something new to see. Almond trees are showing off their new fruits in their furry cases. They are very bitter, though. I don’t know anybody who actually uses them.

almonds in their cases

almonds in their furry cases

The vineyards roll across this Herault hinterland. From above it looks like patchwork with all the rows going in different directions like stripes. Some vineyards have sea views.

picpoul de pinet

Picpoul de Pinet vines love sea breezes

At Pinet, not far from our own village, the vineyards run down to the Mediterranean coast.In this picture, you can make out the oyster beds in the bay. Oysters and white wine: is your mouth watering yet? Wait, there’s more.

Noilly Prat vermouth

a great aperitif

The white wine of Pinet is one of only three varieties used by the manufacturers of Noilly Prat, a world famous vermouth produced at Marseillan also nearby. Marseillan is now the only place producing this fabulous vermouth. No, it’s better than fabulous. It’s the best vermouth you’ll ever taste. There’s a great story behind the making of this famous aperitif, but there’s enough for a whole new post. In the meantime, take a look at their website. It has a cute entry page, but they won’t give away any production secrets.

Back to our own village vineyards. Because of the lie of the land, the vineyard lanes are sometimes below the level of the growing fields. Great camera angles.

elderly vines

old vines still producing

Elsewhere there are new plantations. The baby vines are protected from the ravages of winter winds.

young vines

young vines are protected

Young vines are not allowed to produce fruit for the first year or two. The vine’s job is to get itself established with a strong root system and build up nutrients for grape producing when it’s a grown-up. The wine grower keeps the vineyard free from weeds and pests during this time to give the young vines the best start.

Soon, these young vines will take their place in producing grapes that go into wine known and respected all over the world. Did you know that Languedoc is the biggest wine producing region in the world? Ah, what a place to live, huh? The pleasures of watching it grow, followed by the pleasures of drinking it.

Languedoc vines

vines of Languedoc

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I’d love to hear from you. I’m not an expert on wine, but you don’t have to be an expert to know what you enjoy. That’s my philosophy.


See you soon.

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