Monday, August 29, 2016

Harvest Diary 2016 - ready, steady pick!

6.30 am Monday morning

The first pickers arrive at our house in Tuchan.  Bleary eyed and a little sleepy after the summer's rest, it's time to swing in to action and go get those grapes.

7.00 am

Still waiting for one picker whose donkeys have escaped from his garden.

7.15 am

Pile into the Dyane and arrive at vineyard - a mix of old vine Grenache blanc and Grenache Gris between Tuchan and Paziols.  Distribute buckets, crates and secateurs.

The 2016 harvest has begun 

But where are the grapes?  The bunches are small, the berries are small, everything is small.

Grenache blanc and Grenache gris - field blend


Harvest Diary 2016 - rapid ripening

What a difference a week makes!  We were a little taken by surprise on Thursday when we checked the sugar levels of our grapes in Tuchan - a healthy 13°.  As everyone has been talking about a late harvest it has been panic stations here to get everything ready in time for what for us is going to be an early harvest - at least for the whites.

Clean picking crates all ready to go!

We drove down to the vineyard in Maury as this vineyard usually ripens earlier than the vines in Tuchan.  But this year for some reason the grapes are not quite as ripe as those in Tuchan.  To get an idea of the sugar level we take a representative sample of the grapes from the vineyard in a plastic bag, squeeze the grapes and measure the sugar content of the juice in a refractometer. This is me looking at the level in our vineyard in Maury.

Sugar baby!
So we now have a plan - start picking in Tuchan on Monday (29th August) and then move on to the vines in Maury.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Harvest Diary 2016 - Rain dancing

With only a couple of weeks to go before we get the secateurs out for the 2016 harvest the question on everybody's lips is 'is the 2016 going to be the vintage of the century?'

Well in a nutshell, no!

Although it is still too early to tell this looks like it may be the most challenging vintage yet.  We can't remember the last time it rained here in Tuchan and the lack of water means tiny berries.  So volume will be down but what will the all important quality be like?

The saving grace at Domaine Jones is the age of our vines.  The older the vines, the deeper the roots and the more drought resistant they are.  So far the leaves are still fresh and green allowing the berries to ripen.  So if we get small berries which are ripe this could in fact be the vintage of the century but if the small berries don't ripen properly this may be the vintage we wish to forget.

I have an inkling that our old vines won't let us down but we'll keep on doing the rain dance just in case.

Grenache gris ripening on 80 year old vines in Maury
Lledoner Pelut in Tuchan 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Fitou 2013 - 'an impeccable drop'

A massive thank you to Neil Cammies for this lovely tasting note on my Fitou 2013 - 'an opulent style of Fitou'

‘'Katie Jones has had to deal with quite a bit in her wine-making career, but this doesn’t stop her making an impeccable drop.Her DOMAINE JONES FITOU 2013 (£13.50, The Wine Society) is a classic blend of carignan, grenache and syrah, resulting in an inky dark colour in the glass.The spicy bouquet of the darkest fruits has touches of blackberries and tarter blackcurrants. In the mouth the fruit is held in line with the structured tannins and a smidge of spicy wood tones.The warming black pepper heat continues through to the long, earthy finish. An opulent style of Fitou from Katie’s vineyard in the village of Tuchan.'

Neil Cammies, Wales Online, 12th August 2016

For the full article please visit: 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Ploughing - hold your horses!

Is it the time to plough the fields and scatter?

No plough the fields and get rid of the weeds! We don’t want them around as they steal all of the nutrients and water that the vines could get, when they are already having to work very hard on our steep, infertile slopes.

So how do you get rid of the weeds?

Some growers manage weed control with weed-killer but ploughing is a much more organic and natural way of managing the weeds. It is obviously takes a lot longer though.

In the old days the growers would of course do the ploughing with a horse - but as we now have 12 hectares of old vines and with a horse you need to go up and down each row 5 times (and what would we do with a shire horse when it’s not ploughing) - that’s not a very practical or time-efficient solution.

Horses have been replaced by tractors but these are old vines on steep slopes we are talking about, so we can’t just bring a modern tractor in    -  slopes are too steep and vines too close together. A tractor just wouldn’t be able to get down the rows. 

But we did want to do the ploughing properly and so we have bought a small little slim line tractor  - a Chenillard  - from the French for  ‘Caterpillar’! Basically, it's a little tank with caterpillar wheels that can fit between the narrow rows of vines  and reach the parts a normal tractor can’t!  Also it can go up the slopes, it’s small and sturdy and won’t tip easily – according to Jean Marc!!.  But in actual fact the only time that Jean Marc has tipped a Chenillard was on the flat!! So I can’t wait to get out in the vineyards and start ploughing!

But hold your horses ……it’s not that straight forward.

Hold your horses, Jones

A lot of old vineyards haven’t been ploughed in over 50 years. Because of this the roots often go across as well as down - so you can’t just go in and plough as you would cut the surface roots and the vines will die.  This year we have just ploughed on one side of each row of vines and next year we will plough both sides.

Ploughing on one side only this year

So that must be a hard day’s work for you?

Actually Jean-Marc has done the first stint!  But yes I am keen to have a go with my new birthday present soon!  Jean Marc doesn’t  seem to be sharing my enthusiasm!!

Jean Marc used a chenillard in the vines when he first started at the age of about 15 and before he had enough money to buy a tractor.  So he has all the experience needed to teach a novice like me!!

So have you had our first lesson yet?

No not yet! I definitely need a test drive. It looks fun but there’s no steering wheel. So watch out for the first instalment of ‘Tractor Cam’ – coming soon!

Jean Marc has allowed me to sit on it in the carpark

Domaine Jones Grenache

We opened a bottle of this wine last night and tried it with a spicy sausage and grilled red peppers off the bbq!  It was the perfect match so if you enjoy slightly spicy food this wine has just the right balance to be able to cope.

Here is the low down on the wine:

Smooth, lively fruit, pure strawberries, raspberries and a dash of silk with a hint of wilderness. This wine comes from my vineyard under the imposing Cathar Castle of Queribus in Maury in the Roussillon where Domaine Jones started back in 2009. It is made mainly from old vine Grenache Noir. 
Grenache Noir and a tiny bit of Carignan. 
Drink with
Grilled sausages, lamb chops with thyme, medium curries, crusty steak pie, crispy duck. 
Drink dates
Now to 2019 
More info
The village of Maury lies just over the border in the Roussillon about 20 minutes from Tuchan where the wine is made. Here Grenache in all its colours, red, white and grey, is king! The black schist soils literally crunch underfoot and hand picking is somewhat challenging on the slopes of loose stone where mountain goats would be more at home! 
Press reviews

"Fine dark plums with strawberry highlights."
The Sunday Times, Bob Tyrer

"Moreishly drinkable."
Anthony Rose Independant

"Delicisously lively and open, showing sweet red fruits and great definition."
Jamie Goode, Wine Anorak

"Downright sexy, with a voluptuous, yet silky and pure texture, it gives up classic Grenache kirsch, black cherry, liquorice and sweet spice-like aromas."
The Wine Advocate, Jeb Dunnock

Parker pointing in the right direction!

The results of Parker’s tasting of over 1,000 wines from Languedoc-Roussillon are out and I am over the moon! A really big thank you to Jeb Dunnock!

Robert Parker review of Domaine Jones range
Source: #224 
Reviewer: Jeb Dunnock, Published Apr 2016 
Article: France, Languedoc: New Releases from France's Best Kept Secret / Roussillon 2013’s and ‘14’s

2013 Domaine Jones La Perle Rare Syrah                                               93 points
Vin de France, Languedoc Roussillon, France
Possibly the greatest wine I’ve tasted from Katie, the 2013 Vin de France La Perle Rare Syrah is made from old vine Syrah and brought up in barrel. Full-bodied, rich, concentrated and structured, it has plenty of oak in its crème de cassis, jammy blackberry, toasted bread, and bloody meat-like aromas and flavors. I love the fruit here, and it will be better with 2-3 years of cellaring and keep through 2025.

2014 Domaine Jones Les Perles Syrah Vieilles Vignes                          92 points
Vin de France, Languedoc Roussillon, France
The 2014 Syrah Vieilles Vignes (100% Syrah) reveals a healthy ruby/purple color as well as tons of minerality, dark fruit, medium to full-bodied richness and fine tannin. It shows more and more structure with time in the glass and is a serious Syrah that will keep for a decade.

2014 Domaine Jones La Perle Rare Grenache Gris                               91 points
Vin de France, Languedoc Roussillon, France
My favorite of the whites is the 2014 La Perle Rare Grenache Gris and this medium gold-colored beauty offers fabulous white currants, white flowers, apple blossom and hints of brioche in its medium-bodied, pure, classy personality. It will be versatile on the dinner table and drink nicely for 2-3 years, possibly longer.

2014 Domaine Jones Les Perles Macabeu Vieilles Vignes                    90 points
Vin de France, Languedoc Roussillon, France
More exotic than the Carignan Gris, with lots of lime, crisp peach, mint and that ever-present kiss of minerality, the 2014 Macabeu Vieilles Vignes is medium-bodied, refreshing and downright impossible to resist. It’s perfect to start a meal with over the coming year.

2014 Domaine Jones Fitou                                                                    89 points
Fitou, Languedoc Roussillon, France
Domaine Jones 2014 Fitou is a beautiful, ripe, textured, medium-bodied blend of 40% Carignan, 30% Syrah and 30% Grenache that comes from a selection of 20 different vineyards in the tiny appellation of Fitou. Blackberries, crushed flowers and light minerality all emerge from this well made 2014 that will offer tons of pleasure over the coming 5-6 years.

2014 Domaine Jones Fitou La Gare                                                    89 points
Fitou, Languedoc Roussillon, France
In the same qualitative ballpark as the straight Fitou, the 2014 Fitou La Gare offers lots of plums, violets, white pepper and earth in a medium-bodied, fresh, lively, deliciously forward style. Made from 35% Carignan, 30% Syrah and 30% Grenache, it’s a no brainer to enjoy over the coming 5-6 years.

2013 Domaine Jones Les Perles Carignan Vieilles Vignes                89 points
Languedoc Roussillon, France
The vibrant, juicy, berry and plum-scented 2013 Carignan Vieilles Vignes is medium-bodied, clean, fresh and certainly well made. It has plenty of Carignan character and will drink nicely for 3-5 years.

2014 Domaine Jones Carignan Gris Vieilles Vignes                        89 points
Languedoc Roussillon, France
Jones’ 2014 Carignan Gris Vieilles Vignes is a classy, medium-bodied and elegant white that offers textbook notes of citrus blossom, spice, honeysuckle and a touch of minerality. It drops off on the finish, but is still a beautiful drink.

2014 Domaine Jones Côtes Catalanes Grenache Gris                    89 points
IGP Cotes Catalanes, Languedoc Roussillon, France
The 2014 IGP Cotes Catalanes Grenache Gris is a rock solid white that offers beautiful minerality, citrus peel and white flower characteristics in a medium-bodied, racy style. Finishing clean and dry, it’s a perfect food wine and will drink nicely for at least 2-3 years.
2014 Domaine. Jones IGP Cotes Catalanes Grenache                  87 points
IGP Cotes Catalanes, Languedoc Roussillon, France
The 2014 IGP Cotes Catalanes Grenache from Domaine Jones is a juicy, forward, easy-drinking effort that has lots of pretty berry and strawberry fruits, medium-bodied richness, and a peppery, clean, classy finish. It’s a good value and ideal for drinking over the coming 3-4 years.

Located in Fitou, Domaine Jones makes a bevy of impeccably made, charming, balanced wines that are more than reasonably priced.

For the full article on the Languedoc-Roussillon, please visit