The vine pruning

"Hell after Paradise."

It is difficult to imagine a passage between these two locations in this chronology.

Divine judgments being rarely erroneous, it is difficult to see God himself, perceiving his mistake, to redirect the soul of a disbeliever towards the flames after having allowed him to taste the paradisiacal sweets.

Yet it is this succession of situations facing our workers in the vineyards of Domaine des Chênes today.

Indeed, the pruning of the vine began in early December and this last month of 2018 was particularly mild, with daily temperatures exceeding 17 degrees. However December, although very nice, was not as idyllic as that. The rains of this end of the year which have terribly hit our audois friends, have favored the unpleasant presence of mosquito swarms, dying by the dozen under the slaps of attacked workers. We even hoped for the wind to get rid of these "kamikaze micro-vampires". We hoped so much that he finally arrived. And what a wind: a Tramontane which blows at hundred kilometres per hour. This type of wind that drives crazy, which traumatized for life the tourist pulling his caravan between Narbonne and Perpignan or the rugby player preparing to send the oval between the poles.

In short, this Tramontane, which is called in the Aude "The Cers" (I never understood why this wind changed its name by crossing the 10 km of garrigue that separate us from the neighboring village of Tuchan. Perhaps an old story semantics between Catalan and Occitan.) is a true howling wind. In french we say : "Un vent à décorner les boeufs".  A Catalan would have said: "destett a lluert", an expression just as pictorial but much more tasty when you know that a baby lluert (nickname given to the big green lizard of our vines) has never been seen sucking his mother's nipple and, a fortiori, get unhooked of this hypothetical nipple by a strong wind...

However, here, we learned to live with the Tramontane. Hair short or tied, cap screwed between the two ears, we know how to face it. But a Tramontane with a temperature flirting with zero degrees inflicts a different bite. Especially when the work takes place in a quasi immobility. Because pruning the vine is meticulous work, punctuated with reflection, forcing a slow pace, especially when cutting old goblets. And this activity although physical does not allow to warm up.

In the circus of Vingrau, the first hours of the morning, in winter you do not see the sun's above the cliffs until 10 or 11am. I know, my colleagues Burgundy, Champagne or Alsatian will smile at this evocation because their temperatures can go down much lower and they lost the color of the sun at the beginning of the year. But they do not have this sacred Tramontane which gives birth to tears and blurs the view, which gives you a big stab in the back when you are about to carry the ideal pruning shear. The expression of our weather presenters: "cold felt because of the wind" is true in Roussillon.

Even if I devote a real cult to the Tramontane, our best summer ally against diseases in the vines, I wish, during this time of vows, that it leaves a few days of respite to Virginie, Dominique, Patrick and Pierre, the vine workers of the Domain who have bravely resisted his assaults for too long weeks.

Fortunately, as if to be forgiven, the Tramontane promotes the purity of the air and, every night, offers us fabulous sunsets over the Pyrenees or the Corbières. I let you admire the view on the photos we took.

Happy New Year everyone !

- Alain