Jérôme Castledine, of acclaimed craft Armagnac distillery Baron de Sigognac, tells us the joys that spring brings to this estate in the Gers
Here at Château de Bordeneuve, the focus is very much on imminent springtime activities and the joyous anticipation that the promise of better weather and newly budding vines brings to our hearts.
The last few weeks have seen abundant quantities of regional rainfall (great news for the water table level throughout the arid summer months to come), and, coupled with the more recent clement weather, this has already encouraged early budding in the vineyards… so it’s most definitely time to get binding the shoots before they put on their initial spurt of rapid growth!
This activity, known as ‘liage’ in French, is widely practised in viticulture and arboriculture and consists of attaching the vine shoots to the wires strung between pickets with agricultural twine, so that future growth is both non-anarchic and properly trained along the trellising.
If you consider that, during the magnificent Gascony’s sunshine months, a vine can grow by upwards of 20 cm in a single day, the need to get this totally manual task completed within the next month becomes crystal clear. It’s labour-intensive, perhaps, but time and effort well spent as this practice affords increased protection from excessive gusts of wind and facilitates control over the orientation of the vine growths.
Ultimately, this is an efficient way to naturally increase yields and also condition the vine branches to support additional bunch weight throughout the fruiting summer months.
It is a glorious time of year to be out amongst the vines and one can really experience the advancing signs of spring as the domain positively abounds with excited wildlife: birds busily nesting, foxes hunting in the swirling morning mists on behalf of their recently born litters and even the odd doe roaming cautiously around the grounds. And, of course, the floral evidence attests to the warmer weather to come with cherry blossom erupting profusely, wild daffodils following the, as yet, tepid sunshine and myriad other photosynthetic activities all pointing towards a potentially successful growing season at Château de Bordeneuve.
Of course, once binding of the vine shoots has been completed, it will almost be time for Easter celebrations, as the Paschal Full Moon, the first after the spring equinox, means that Easter is relatively early this year, falling, as it does, at the beginning of April.
A perfect excuse to enjoy an early, socially-distanced, barbecue in the grounds at Bordeneuve, perhaps with a couple of generous snifters (or three), of a well-aged Baron de Sigognac blend or maybe even a vintage Bas Armagnac, drawn directly from the reserves housed in the medieval cellars on the grounds of the château.
As is the case with the Christmas season, a decent drop of Armagnac possesses perfect polyvalence during Easter festivities, having a justifiable place in the kitchen, the cocktail glass and the after-dinner snifter. It has even been known to find its unswerving way into the Simnel cake mixture!
At Domaine de Bordeneuve, this is a period which brings us much hope and positivity, and this is why we like to celebrate it in style. We witness birth and new growth all around us at the château and, as the hard winter chores draw to a close, spring bounces us swiftly towards the next stage in the cycle of the vine’s life, one filled increasingly with sunshine, long bright days and our future vintage 2021 Armagnac growing right before our eyes!
This is the last in the current series of The Baron’s Blog and I genuinely hope that you have enjoyed reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I hope to return with more anecdotes from Domaine de Bordeneuve in the near future!
If you would like to experience life at Château de Bordeneuve yourselves and also sample our Baron de Sigognac Armagnac collections with us, then it would be a great pleasure to organise this for when we are all free to travel once more.
Please just drop me a line: [email protected]