Tuesday 16 November 2010

Vines, Oliviers and Oaks

The Aspiran wine cooperative is sadly in decline and this must be the dullest picture on this blog. Wine hasn't been bottled here for several years, it's just tankered away somewhere. Friends who live on the approach road report a decline in harvest traffic each year. Neighbouring villages Adissan, Fontes and Cabrières give the impression of doing better with sales both directly and to supermarkets backed by fair local reputations. Other neighbours Nébian, Paulhan and Belarga have joined forces with two other communes to become a super-cooperative under the Clochers et Terroirs brand. Several friends enjoy their everyday wine and a tempting loyalty scheme ensures they keep returning.

Better news is that Aspiran now has five independent wine producers, that I know of, from the well established Château Malautié (actually not a Château at all) to the relatively new such as the intriguing Ribiera. Some of the vineyard land is as fine as any in the Languedoc with several owned by reputed Domaines based outside the commune.

More good news is a tour round the chemins reveals a surprising number of new plantings at a time of overall vine decline. These are especially evident in the basalt rich soils such as this planting by the geologically recent lava flow described in my Volcanoes post.

Nevertheless, EU grubbing up cash incentive schemes have transformed many vineyards over the last 5 plus years over to growing visually dull cereals. This picture was taken before wheat was planted - poppies just love recently tilled soil.

Others have become attractive olive groves. In more sheltered spots where water is readily available orchards of peach, apricot, cherry and almond trees have appeared. Added to this are three bio vegetable growers in the commune, see my post on one of them La Ferme Lou Selces.

Most curious of all are plantations of oak trees like this one between the roads to Paulhan and Adissan soon after they fork. Acorns? Timber? No, truffle oaks.

For notes on a couple of wines from Aspiran see my wine blog posts on Domaine Ribiera and Château Malautié.

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