PEARLS before swine

PUBLISHED: 17:45 20 October 2009 | UPDATED: 16:18 20 February 2013

Those of you who follow this column will know that I launched the world's only Fairtrade Communion Wine last year and it had been doing very nicely, thank you, until the Government saw fit to advise the Church to withdraw the Chalice in communion ...

The Sacrament Act of 1547 was invoked - drawn up to protect church goers from the Bubonic Plague - I hardly think Swine Flu matches up to that! Anyway, this has obviously caused us a drop off in sales, but the sad thing is that we were about to bottle 25,000 litres at a Fairtrade winery in South Africa. This has now had to be put on hold - and the benefits to the Fairtrade workers lost, at least for the time being.

A Year in the

vineyard at

Domaine de la Brillane

An organic vineyard in Provence, owned by Englishman, Rupert Birch, ex-Schroders CEO turned winemaker

October marks the second half of the vendanges, with most of the grapes picked and only the late ripening ones such as Mourvedre hanging on for the last few days of warmth. By now the autumn rains should have ceased, and the weather is often clear, sunny, but cool. The wines already in will be starting their malolactic fermentations - the secondary fermentation which transforms the bitter malic acid into the softer lactic acid, essential for all good wines which are destined to have a long life. Then it is time to clean the cellar again - from top to bottom; there are stray grapes everywhere, behind the vats, in the taps, on the walls... and they all

need to be swept away and the place left spotless. The wines are still very difficult to taste - raw, young, often rather sharp, and it is only when the malolactics are finished that you really begin to get a feel for the

vintage. Out in the fields, it's time for the vines to have a rest. This is when we spread sheep manure to the tune of three to four tons per hectare. Putting it down now means that the winter rains will help it be absorbed. Otherwise there is nothing to be done in the fields except wait for the first cold weather which will drive the sap back down into the vines and mean that we can then think about pruning and the start of a new cycle.

Rupert Birch - owner/winemaker

Domaine de la Brillane - my favourite

red wine: purity in a glass - is available

from Whitebridge Wines at £9.99.

For more information on Domaine de

la Brillane, look at their website:

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