New French wine at its best

Customer review of Domaine O’Vineyards Trah Lah Lah 2009:

osted by Jane Burgess on 18:02 07/12/2011 Comment on: Domaine O’Vineyards Trah Lah Lah 2009

This is probably the best French wine I have ever tasted. Full bodied, rich, smooth, clean-tasting. New French wine at its best.

I love the name New French wine.  I could be part of a New France movement.  Very inline with the Outsiders group.  Thanks for the comment, Jane!  Really nice to hear that we’re doing something right and that all of our work is paying off. 🙂

In September 2011, we did a special harvest and micro vinification with part of the Merlot, Cabernet and Syrah. It was a natural, extended whole cluster carbonic maceration.

The experimental fermentation

Natural means nothing added.  We counted on wild yeasts and used no sulfites.

Extended means that I let the maceration run for about six weeks.  That’s a long time.  Especially for a carbonic.

Whole cluster means I left the grapes on the stems.

Carbonic maceration means the tank was completely sealed throughout the maceration so there was virtually no oxygen.  The chemical reactions during fermentation result in totally different flavors when there is no oxygen in the environment.  Lots of candy like, bubblegummy flavors (often associated with beaujolais nouveau).


I previously posted about harvesting the grapes for this micro vinification experiment.


After the six weeks were up, we opened the tank and checked on the grapes.  I really had no idea what to expect.

It smelled great and looked like most of the grapes had stayed intact.

whole grape clusters on top of fermentation tank

We drained juice from the bottom of the tank and took density measurements to see how much sugar was left.  It turns out that we had almost finished fermentation on the free running juice.  It was at .999 the density of water.  Almost! Tasted great.  This was definitely killer wine.  The grapes also tasted delicious.  I froze some for use in cooking recipes later this winter.

density measurement on o'blivion

Once we drained all the free running juice, it was time to tip the tank over and scoop out all the remaining grapes into a vertical wooden press.  So many of the grapes were still intact, the entire fermentation happening INSIDE the grape.  When I would reach in with the bucket, I would hear lots of popping noises as my fingers pressed into the grapes.  It was like wine-scented bubble wrap. PS somebody should make wine scented bubble wrap.

decuvage into vertical press

I pressed the grapes.  This juice was slightly sweeter/denser.  It’s clear the fermentation stuck.  Such is life.  I guess I’m supposed to restart it with a tete de cuve (when you make a little bit of the juice ferment and then double it in size after a day and double it in size again after another day and so on until you get the whole container).  But the amount of juice we got is pathetically small (maybe 2 hectoliters / not even a barrel).  So a tete de cuve on this would be like a glass of wine.  And then the next day a bottle.  And then maybe a jug.  😀

manual vertical press

We’ll see.

All the photos of our decuvage


In September 2011, we did a special harvest and micro vinification with part of the Merlot, Cabernet and Syrah. Two of the WWOOFers (volunteers learning about farming) staying at O’Vineyards spent a couple days hand-harvesting grapes for a small project of mine.

Harvesting O’Blivion

We brought the harvest in and did a natural, whole-cluster extended carbonic maceration in a small stainless steel tank I have. No sulfites added. No yeast added. No air. No nothing. We just put a bunch of grapes in an airtight container and sealed the lid for six weeks. And the results are impressive!

The codename for the cuve has been O’Blivion because the WWOOFers were Cronenberg fans and we watched Videodrome a couple nights before starting this project. (There’s a character in Videodrome named Brian O’Blivion.)

It was a late harvest and it had its complications. At that point, we were already seeing a lot of shriveling and a bit of rot too so we had to be pretty selective in the hand harvest. Only picking the best grape bunches that seemed least affected by the adverse conditions of late harvesting, we managed to get about 5 hectoliters (500 liters) of grapes.

Photos of harvest

Help and credit

We should give a shout out to Matt and Erica, the WWOOFers who contributed so much to this little tank of wine. And Laurent and Alexandra from Tonton Marcel also helped out on the day they were at O’Vineyards.  A lot of the photos above were taken by them.

Customer review of Domaine O’Vineyards Trah Lah Lah2008:

Posted by Francesca Jacklin on 21:19 07/08/2011

Comment on: Domaine O’Vineyards Trah Lah Lah 2008

A lovely rounded wine with plenty of berry fruit, but not jammy, and a nice dose of tannins that make it pair well with food, we had this with BBQ rack of lamb and it was gorgeous.

One of my favourite wines, the aroma is so heady it’s hard to put the glass down and you never want the bottle to end!

Thanks, Frankie.

Whenever you say what you pair the food with, my mouth starts to water.  You guys are doing it right!  Drinking this wine with goooood food.  The only time you have to put your glass down is to open another bottle! ;D



Customer review of Domaine O’Vineyards O’Syrah 2008:

Posted by Cindy Phillips on 22:21 28/07/2011

Comment on: Domaine O’Vineyards O’Syrah 2008

This wine was absolutely LOVELY! It’s just the kind of wine my husband and I love. Heavy, rich and flavourful. Absolutely loved it. Have put another 12 bottles in my basket already!!

Cindy has made us very happy.  We just love to hear when people enjoy the work we put into these wines.  Lots of concentration and extraction to get those rich, flavourful wines!  She used LOVELY, love, and loved!  LOVE LOVE LOVE it. 🙂  So good she got a whole other case.  Good times.  We’re very happy that this is her kind of wine.



I managed to take some pictures yesterday.  Lots of photos of the Syrah and Cabernet finishing veraison.  That’s the period when the plant turns the grapes purple.

I also found some baby birds newly hatched in the Syrah!

For more pictures of grapes turning purple, check out this Love That Languedoc post about veraison in the Languedoc-Roussillon.

Some of our very first guests took lots of photos of their room at O’Vineyards Bed & Breakfast.

O’Vineyards Bed & Breakfast Room

syrah bnb roomIt’s hard to show just how spacious the rooms are in a single photograph.  You want to show details on how the floor and ceiling are finished, a hint of the spectacular view on the Syrah vines, the size of the bed, how much space there is to move around and breathe, and so much more.

I’m very appreciative of these excellent candid photographs by our guests.  This first picture shows ceiling, floor, and the big glass doors.  And there’s even a bottle of wine to serve as a scale so you know just how big the bed really is!

“Why is there a bottle of wine,” you ask?

Because every O’Vineyards room comes with a bottle of wine!!  Trust me: a bottle of Trah Lah Lah is much more fun than a chocolate on your pillow.

O’Vineyards Bed & Breakfast Bathroom

syrah bathroomAnd here’s a photo of the bathroom.  Again, it’s hard to take a photograph that shows how spacious it is.  You want to give a glimpse of the walk in Italian shower.  You want to show that things are clean and new.  But that there’s still character and warmth in the finish and decorations.

Again, a brilliant photo!  Thanks to our guests who took these wonderful photos and shared them with the world.

Wow, the last couple of weeks in the vines at O’Vineyards have been absolutely mind boggling! After some nice warm weather and the ideal  rains  the vines have kicked into overdrive with the Syrah leading the way. We found it necessary to temporarily leave the Merlot to attend to the Syrah where the growth has been phenomenal, and that is why you have not seen my wire-lifting in the Merlot as of yet.

I probably would not have thought to include this little lesson for you if everything had gone as planned, but the Syrah is very unpredictable and also very fragile.  Is it possible that is something to do with the fact that the syrah is one of the only feminine grape variatels? (just kidding ladies). Anyway, when the Syrah grows in a sudden burst like this, we have to immediately raise the wires to support the new growth or the heavy winds in the region can often break some of the new vines.

before wire lifting

before wire lifting

We finished lifting the wires in the Syrah and  we are now lifting in the Merlot. I have taken photos of our galvanized posts with the attachment holes to show our capabilities to ajust the height of the wires. Every winter, we lower these wires to the ground after the pruning. Once the vines grow, they start to droop a little bit and we can lift the wires to support their growth and encourage vertical growth. We will go back and lift the wires a few inches higher in just a few weeks to match the plants’ continued development, but this will take much less time than the first lifting. I have posted photos of two rows of Merlot before and after the lifting to illustrate the difference before and after we pass through and lift wires.

after wire lifting

after wire lifting

Lifting the wires is an important process. The shoots holding the grapes are now “trained” by the wires to go upward which allows us to maintain a well balanced canopy of leaves to feed the grapes throughout the growing season.

Thanks for following and I hope this gives you a little better understanding about how much time and labor go into the making a bottle of good wine. Next week I plan to show you the flowering of the grape buds.

galvanized posts and wires

galvanized posts and wires

How to find us

Domaine O’Vineyards, located in the North Arrondissement of Carcassonne, is just minutes from the Carcassonne train station, the Medieval City, and the Carcassonne Airport.
GPS coordinates: 43.259622, 2.340387

Wine, Dine, Relax at our Boutique Vineyard
Unique thing to do in Carcassonne
Wine Cellar. Winery Visits. Wine Tasting.
Wine & Food Pairing

North Arrondissement of Carcassonne
885 Avenue de la Montagne Noire
11620 Villemoustaussou, France
Tel: +33(0) 630 189 910

  1. Best by GPS.
    Follow the signs to Mazamet/ Villemoustaussou using the D118. At the end of the last straight part of D118, you will come to a roundabout with the Dyneff gas station.
  2. Take the exit towards Pennautier. Continue 500m to a small roundabout and go straight over.
  3. Look out for the second road on your right, Avenue des Cévennes which curves up hill (about 1km) to Avenue de la Montagne Noire on the left.
  4. At the last juction, bear left. the road sign “Ave de la Montagne Noire” (confusing as it seems to show a right turn)
  5. After another 500m you will see our red brick color building in the middle of the vines.