Cornas, le cheval mascot, has been rudely usurped by my own efforts at cultivation, just when vignerons are doing likewise in their vineyards. The beans that are flowering on the left are Scarlet Emperor, a classic Runner Bean, and on the right is Hestia, a dwarf Runner Bean. Both have been grown from organic seeds, but the year in southern England has been as tricky as it has in much of Europe, with very little sustained heat of any note. The beans are currently being cropped and the family feel healthy. I have always though that wine writers should be obliged to grow crops so they understand the vicissitudes and pitfalls that await anyone trying to make wine. That might rule out rather a lot of scribblers, probably no bad thing.
In the Rhône vineyards, we enter the bend into the home straight for 2008, with weather in August playing a major role in the outcome for the 2008 vintage. There has been widespread mildew in the vines after so many constant rainfalls in May and June - nothing large, but enough to wipe away any treatments. It was also cool at flowering time. Please see Goings-On for some more comments on 2008 so far.
There is also a tasting review of Paul Jaboulet Ainé, with the wines entered under their domaine heading. The 2005s and 2006s were put under the spotlight in May, 2008. The Tavel 2007s have been covered, and also little retrospectives on 2003 and 2000 Châteauneuf-du-Pape reds.
This month I have two visits abroad, not connected with the wine, so there will be gradual progress in entering Gigondas. I am also considering organising some dinners in the Rhône around April or May 2009. These would involve drinking a young vintage or two, and one that was more mature, say 5 to 8 years old. Some growers would be present, and there would be a vineyard visit on the day of the dinner. This is a very early idea, but it would be helpful if any subscribers could register their interest. Because space is limited in many of the venues, this will be reserved for subscribers only. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org