Well, if you can’t believe that its actually happened, imagine how we feel! 8 years ago my wife and I started dreaming and eventually planning for how we could get ourselves from our London-based somewhat stressy jobs into a life of making the stuff that we so love to drink. In the meantime we have produced a couple of rascals, sold up in London and moved to France, she has started her own business, and I have had to hand over the reigns to the company I co-founded. Do I hear shouts of joy from my colleagues in the background? No, must be the eagles on the coteau. In spite of the challenges, last week we actually managed to pick grapes, squash them, and begin the process of turning them into wine.

And was it everything that we had hoped for? Yes, and so much more….. First up, meet the hardcore, there-for-all sessions team:

 

The A Team

In 2018 a crack commando unit was sent to Jurancon by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. They promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Audaux underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a harvesting problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the Audaux-Team

J “Hannibal” Hutchinson, Jess “Facewoman” Hutchinson, Nico ” BA Baracus” Chapart and Chris “Howling Mad” Beasley. I wanted to be Faceman, but Jess wouldn’t let me

 

Harvest 1 – Petit Manseng from a Jurancon vineyard in Monein

Monein fruit is the richest and most exotic of all the different terroirs in Jurancon

In spite of the 32 C day, a first blanket of snow had just fallen on the mountains behind

Petit Manseng in great shape, unlike the harvester

Individual berry sorting. Sounds like fun, really truly isn’t. Now we can see why as far as we know, literally no one else does it.


After sorting, the grapes were foot trodden then basket pressed, resulting in this, the press cake. I’d prefer an éclair

 

Harvest 2 – Petit Manseng from a Jurancon vineyard in Lasseube

A week later, Lasseube has a totally different terroir to Monein – fresh, crisp, and delicate grapes. Our hope is to blend the two to get a harmonious whole.

An amazing morning with mists rolling off the vines

Sorting and pressing in full flow. Converted into black and white to make it look like we have been doing this for decades.

 

A pigeon thought that the grapes were having all the fun. Let me into the barrels too!

Fete de Vendange – the important bit!

After the hard work, some relatively wonderful wine and good grub for all those who had helped out. We are clearly completely plastered by this stage.

I will tell you more about the winemaking, some of the process and eventually what it even tastes like in future emails, but for now I would just like to thank everyone that got involved – we barely had to ask yet managed to get 30 people to turn up and help on more than one occasion, mostly from the village itself. When one of the village old-timers came back the next day to thank us for helping to bring back some of the community spirit that used to be a mainstay of every village like this in France, we were almost moved to tears. Lets just hope we don’t turn all that goodwill and hard work into vinegar….

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