Tag Archives: Wine Club

Wine Club Harvest Weekend

One of the perks of being a Domaine of the Bee Wine Club Member is that you are invited to be used as slave labour at harvest time.

16 of our Club Members came to Maury and had a gas over a gorgeous windy sunny weekend.
Picking for 3 hours, stomping grapes for 2 hours, and hour looking round the winery and then back to the Hotel Restaurant Riberach La Cooperative for a wine-fuelled dinner.

Harvest team proud of the morning’s work….

We decided to pick enough to fill one barrel. This requires about 500Kg of grapes, so we only needed to pick about 30kg of grapes each, but that can take surprisingly long…. especially when there are complex instructions about primary and secondary bunches to take on board (watch Amanda’s explanation here)

And we were keen to use the simplest possible method of fermentation for this special barrel – ‘whole bunch fermentation’.

This involves tipping the bunches into the barrel without removing the stalks, and gently crushing the bunches underfoot, to release the juice.

So we lined up to wash our feet, and then climb in to the barrel of surprisingly cold grapes, to give them a good old stomp.

First into the barrel – John – the man with the whitest shorts….

The resulting wine will have a slightly lower alcohol, and will pick up some tannins from the stalks, which will give the wine a slightly ‘fresher’, and more pithy, green character. “Whole bunch” is becoming very fashionable these days, as some of the opinion-formers among the journalists and sommeliers look for reds that are a bit lighter on their feet.

Once we had worked our magic, we retired to enjoy a gorgeous dinner at the only luxury hotel in the region, in a refitted old wine co-operative building in Belesta, where many of the rooms are located in what were originally concrete wine tanks.

After we had finished with it, our barrel was lifted into a chilled container for 5 days, to keep it too cold to ferment, and to allow as much as possible of the colour and flavour from the skins to leach out into the juice.

Then, once the barrel had warmed up again to around 18 degrees, the fermentation started spontaneously, and took just over a week to ferment to dryness.

I made regular short videos to send to the harvest crew via WhatsApp. We’ve now downloaded most of them to our YouTube channel, which you can have a look at here

Visit our You-Tube channel to watch a few videos that follow the fortunes of our intrepid barrel

The wine is now fermented dry (well, there were 4g/l of sugar left when sampled on Monday 28/10).

A bottle of the fermenting wine was brought back by me for our Club Members to taste on the 2nd November at our Winter Tasting.

The easiest way to track fermentations is using ‘specific gravity’ measured with a hydrometer – the density of grape juice is high, and as dense sugar turns to less-dense-than-water alcohol, the density drops from around 1100, to around 995. The pale grey line that started being tracked on the 14th October is the Wine Club Members’ barrel.
Nearly dry – at about 1003, this wine will be dry when it reaches 992-995

The Buzz September 2014


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Inspired by Keats, we are becoming ‘close- bosomed friend to the maturing sun’ as we ‘conspire with him how to load and bless with fruit the vines, and fill all fruit with ripeness to the core.’

At least that is the theory. I’m not really sure where all this ‘conspiring’ is getting us. It seems a bit one-sided to me. The maturing sun seems to do what it wants.

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But sure enough, the grapes are getting sweeter, and within the next 2 weeks, we are likely to pick our Carignan vineyard, and then we will ‘by a cyder-press, with patient look, watch the latest oozings, hour by hour’. Actually, we use a wine-press. But you get the general idea.

This year, we are aiming to do a better job of recording and sharing the trials and vicissitudes of this exciting time of year. If you would like to follow our progress, email us, and we’ll send you a weekly update.

Our Wine Club has over 100 members!

We are delighted to welcome our first one hundred members, who benefit from our best prices, priority access to new wines, and rare bottlings.

It is not too late to join for our next vintage, and you can immediately benefit from at 20% discount on everything you buy from us.It is not too late to join for our next vintage, and you can immediately benefit from at 20% discount on everything you buy from us.

If you want to know more, or to sign up, click HERE. We’d love to have you aboard.

“Nothing is so conducive to living an effective life as wine. Do you not see? It is wine-drinkers who make money, clinch their business deals,win their legal cases, become happy and help their friends.”Aristophanes – 5th century BC

Changing borders

As we got pretty close to waving goodbye to Scotland a few weeks ago, it got me thinking that the nation state is a fairly recent phenomenon, and borders have been shifting for years.

Our house in France is in a hamlet called Borde Neuve – or ‘New Border’ – and once marked the border between France and the kingdom of Aragon in northern Spain

And then I found this fascinating 1,000 year animation of the way boundaries have changed in Europe.

French honey crisis!

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The last three years have seen a catastrophic decline in the production of French honey.

We are determined to help. We have been in talks with a local bee-keeper to offer our vineyards as a site for some hives.

We are surrounded by wild rosemary, cistus, thyme and fennel plants, all of which should combine to make some great-tasting honey.

If we manage to make some,  we’ll let you know!

Till next time….