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Things to do in the Languedoc:   Drinking Wine and Making Wines:   Producers:   Rives Blanques

Château Rives-Blanques is a family-owned single estate vineyard. It produces hand-harvested quality white wines, all bottled on the estate, all organic ("bio") , most of them Languedoc AOC wines, notably;

  • AOC Blanquette de Limoux;
  • AOC Limoux:
    • Chardonnay,
    • Chenin Blanc
    • Mauzac;
  • Late Harvest desert wines
  • Vins de Pays - Country Wines

Château Rives-Blanques is an independent, family-run estate of 30 ha. It is one of the few in the region specialising in hand-harvested white wines, which are bottled on the property.

 

The Terroir

Château Rives-Blanques lies on a 350m high plateau in the Aude département near the cusp of Limoux' Atlantic and Mediterranean terroirs, not far from Limoux. (The Mediteranean climate stretches only this far inland, perhaps surprisingly, since Limoux is only thirty miles from the The Mediterranean coast). The domain's oak and pine trees, and indigenous wild life, show that it is Atlantic by nature. Ground soils of glacial moraine, pebbles and clay enhance the natural sweetness of mauzac, the complexity of chardonnay and the freshness of chenin blanc.

The Chai, an above ground wine cellarRives-Blanques was amongst the first vineyards in France to be given the 'Agriculture Raisonnée' accreditation by the Ministry of Agriculture, confirming its ecological honesty and integrity. Altitude and brisk summer winds help by keeping unwanted pests at bay. No chemical fertilizers are used, and all vine cuttings, grape pips and skins left from the pressing are ploughed back into the soil. Rives-Blanques were the first in the region to experiment with cultivating clover between the rows of vines, which adds nitrogen to the soil and keeps weeds down. This proved successful so they are now doing it throughout the vineyard.

With temperature-controlled space for 300 barrels, they work with France's top coopers and oenologists to find the best type of barrel, degree of toasting, and size of grain for their particular wines. The oak barrels come from 200 year old trees in the oak forests of the Massif Central and the Vosges.

 

Wines

 

AOC Blanquette de Limoux

blanquette de limoux The world's oldest sparkling wine was made in Limoux, and it still is, under strict AOC rules. Blanquette de Limoux is the oldest appellation in Languedoc-Roussillon, and was one of the first in France. It has the lowest permitted maximum yield of any sparkling wine in the country, and is made exclusively from hand harvested grapes.

90% mauzac, 10% chardonnay / chenin blanc
Whole, unblemished grapes are harvested by hand, and pressed within two hours of harvesting.
Separate vinification of each grape variety.
Fermented at 14 °C. in stainless steel vats with a second fermentation in the bottle.
Yield: 45 hl/ha.

 

AOC Limoux

AOC Limoux is the only white wine appellation in France requiring fermentation and maturation in oak barrels. It also decrees that the grapes must be picked by hand. Rives-Blanques offer three wines made from the three permitted grape varieities: a chardonnay, a chenin blanc, and a mauzac - wines that reflect the full potential of the appellation, and glow with light as if the sunshine were still in them. A fourth wine, La Trilogie is an exclusive blend of the best barrels of the three grape varieties, and is the flagship of Chateau Rives-Blanques.

Cuvée de l'Odyssée - AOC Limoux - Chardonnay

white wine chardonnay limoux The award-winning Cuvée de l'Odyssée is made from hand-selected chardonnay grapes, arguably amongst the best in Limoux. The wine is fermented and maturated in French oak barrels, and bottled on the estate. Cuvée de l'Odyssée has been listed amongst the best wines of the year in France for tfive years in a row by La Revue du Vin de France, and was included in the dream wine list drawn up by three Best Sommelier in the World winners.

100% chardonnay
Yield: 45 hl/ha.
Whole, unblemished grapes harvested by hand and sorted again before pressing; pressed within two hours of harvesting.
Fermented in French oak barrels, followed by 6 months maturation in the barrel (1/3 new).
Batonnage twice weekly.
Yield: 45 hl/ha.

Cuvée Occitania - AOC Limoux - Mauzac

white wine mauzac limoux This wine is made grapes from uncloned vines. Mauzac is Limoux's indigenous grape, dating back to the Renaissance. Occitania is the name of the region in which Occitan - the langue d'oc, the historic language of the troubadours, is spoken. (The motto of the domain is "nòstra terra mentis pas", Occitan for "our land does not lie")

Cuvée Occitania is the only 100% barrel-vinified mauzac in the appellation - and perhaps even in the world. This is because of its high acidity and neutral taste. By encouraging the mauzac on the lowest south-facing slopes to reach an unusually high level of maturity, they are able to produce this unique wine. It has been included by La Revue du Vin de France in its roundup of the best wines of the millésime in France for the past four years in a row, and awarded four stars by Decnater Magazine.

100% Mauzac
Whole, unblemished grapes harvested by hand, and sorted for a second time before pressing; pressed within two hours of harvesting.
Fermented and matured for six months in seasoned French oak barrels.
Batonnage twice weekly.
Yield: 45 hl/ha.

 

Dédicace - AOC Limoux - Chenin Blanc

white wine chenin blanc limouxDédicace is made from 20 year old vines: it is a modern style of wine, but made with care and experience rooted in tradition. Until recently it was the only chenin blanc with appellation status in the whole of the South of France. It has distinguished itself as one of the most interesting white wines from the region.

100% chenin blanc
Whole, unblemished grapes harvested by hand and then individually sorted again by hand before pressing; pressed within two hours of harvesting.
Fermented and matured for six months in 8% new French oak barrels.
Yield: 40 hl/ha.

La Trilogie - AOC Limoux - Chardonnay, Chenin blanc & Mauzac

The harvest of 2006 marked the first time Rives Blangues were able to make a successful blend of the three grape varieties allowed by the Limoux appellation. Careful blending of their best barrels by gave them the first hint of the elusive wine they had spent years trying to find. Only 1250 bottles were made.

30% chenin blanc, 20% mauzac, 50% chardonnay
Yield between 35-45 hl/ha. Each grape variety vinified separately. Grapes picked and twice-sorted by hand, pressed within two hours of harvesting. Fermented and aged in French oak barrels for six months.
Batonnage twice weekly.
Blended by Georges Pauli and Eric Vialade.

 

Late harvest Desert Wines

white wine chenin blanc limoux2002 "Jan". Extraordinary conditions of the 2002 harvest allowed chenin blanc grapes on the domaine to become affected by pourriture noble, the 'noble' rot that causes the grapes to shrivel, concentrating and intensifying their flavour. The grapes were individually selected and picked by hand on October 29, 2002; the wine fermented gently in one-year old barrels right through and into the next year, and then spent another year in the barrel ageing and balancing its natural sweetness against its natural acidity. Only 1764 individually numbered bottles of this wine have been made.

2004 "Xaxa"

chenin blanc

 

Chardonnay du Domaine (Vin de Pays d'Oc)

white wine A clean, fresh and stylish chardonnay.

chardonnay
Machine harvested at night, sorted by hand and pressed within two hours of harvesting.
Fermented at 17°C in stainless steel vats.

Address
Château Rives-Blanques
11300 Cépie,
Languedoc-Roussillon,
France
www.rives-blanques.com

Click on the following link for recommended books on wines of the Languedoc-Roussillon Next.

 

 

 

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