6 – First bottling

The day of the very first bottling came… at last!!!

After a full year of ageing in oak barrels, the red wine – made from the very first grapes we harvested – was finally ready to be transferred into bottles. We needed to find, before this “historic” date came (you may have noticed that I’m always extremely humble when it comes to the words I use in my stories), a name for this first wine. It is harder to think about a name than one may imagine. That name must highlight the vineyard, the winemaker, the place or anything which would make it a symbol, which bears a message.

After spending many a night thinking about it and asking relatives for advice, a name was found.  This first wine would be called… Cuvée Regain… to symbolise the upsurge (‘regain’, in French) of those vines that did not deserve to be abandoned. Only this first wine would be named that way.

Creation of the Domain logotype which would end up on all bottles

Labels were needed, created from scratch and required to highlight the Domain‘s identity as much as my own. Modern and elegant, as well as long-lasting, visuals and designs were required. So, I took out the drawing table I sued to work with when I started to study Arts a few years prior. Here too, I needed a few days – and some nights – to create a drawing I was happy about.

D-Day, a wine bottling expert came to the vineyard, with his machine. I did not have the required equipment and this sensitive stage needed, without a doubt, to be executed by a professional contractor.

My daughter Sophie helping with the bottling

My heart was beating so fast. As long as the wine wasn’t in bottles, anything could happen…  a valve from the machine could break and cause a loss of wine, a problem with the bottle themselves or the corks or with… anything, really…

The bottle filling was done quite slowly in order to avoid traumatizing the wine, the total quantity was so small I could not afford to lose a drop. When the bottles were sealed with the capsules and labels were placed, I was overwhelmed by positive emotions.

Bottles inside the machine, filling in progress

Voilà, it had started, my first wine was a reality, right before my very eyes.

First bottle, Cuvée Regain

I had a hard time selling this first wine. Not at all because it was not a good wine – au contraire, it was actually rather delicious – but because it was hard to let go of it.

I almost had to fight certain customers who were liking it so much that they wanted to buy the whole lot. In the end, I managed to keep some bottles of this Cuvée Regain. I take a bottle out from time to time, when unique occasions arise.

The following year, the harvest yielded way more grapes, we would be able to make rosé and white wines too. Our very first wine press had been delivered by a truck equipped with a crane and placed in its attributed spot on the upper level of the chai.

Installing our first wine press

We were ready for our second harvest. We needed more people this time around. Children, nephews, friends, neighbours and other local people were there, always in a belly-laughter kind of ambience, for our second manual harvest.

Once the grapevines reached the chai, they were placed on the sorting table. We were always at least 4 to sort the recemes and I can assure you that nothing, exept grapes themselves, had any chance of finding its way into the wine press. Any leaves, any insects… all were removed because, even if some winemaker call this the “terroir effect“, I preferred my own terroir to express itself in another way.

Please leave any comments you may have in the section below.

Adapted from the original French by Yann Sicamois.

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