Since man has been making wine – and deriving great pleasure from it – he has celebrated the end of the past year, good or bad, by drawing the new wine from the vat. This young wine is like a newborn crying for the first time, which is sometimes a little hard to take, but often heralds wonders for the palate. As Millévin approaches, the great autumnal gathering in Avignon celebrating new wine, I went to Sainte-Cécile-les-Vignes to meet the young and friendly team of winemakers from Chantecôtes, to taste their new wine and find out if cooperatives can produce superb wines. It was a Bacchanalian encounter with Sainte Cécile, patron saint of musicians and Saint Vincent, patron saint of winegrowers.
A huge chestnut cask dating from the 14th century and video screens, a giant press from the 16th and a museum of more up-to-date items; the Châteauneuf du Pape Wine Museum has been revamped. This third-generation museum is far from the conventional idea of a dusty museum full of old tools!
In winter, the vineyards and soil may be resting, but not the wine producers! As, after it has produced its fruits having bathed in sunlight, the sap returns back towards the knot of the vine, and leaves shoots to be trimmed. This is the time for pruning, and the Chêne Bleu vineyard resonates with the sound of electric secateurs. Well covered against the elements, the pruners slowly work their way down the rows, at the heart of a sumptuous landscape.