Vincent and his bombs

It’s best to walk the dog early in Sainte Colombe par Castillon, Bordeaux in August. When the Dordogne mist has not yet been burned off. At seven on a Monday the place is buzzing. Here, they don’t work to clock time, they work to sun time, ‘l’heure soleille’, and the working day starts in the early dawn. Tractors roar past endlessly from 6am.

Jean-Pierre Seguinel’s, dog was barking madly at my Jack which fetched him out from bottling conserves with Madame. Blettes today … chard. The weather’s stopped them mushrooming … ground is like concrete. They are of the old school. They live off the land…eat what they grow, raise, forage or hunt . “If Putin comes, we’ll be OK”. Henry bought a few of his vineyards when he started building La Clarière and they’re still our best.

Of course I walked past La Clarière but didn’t go in, there’s a Confrere in residence. Almost always is. We just waved “Bonjour”.

Vincent, our Estate Manager drove in with bombs in the back of his van! We are ready for the thunderclouds. We have days of intense sun coming, and here, that usually means danger. Not for old grandads like me exploding in the heat but from the dreaded hailstorms that follow the heat.

So wine growers have banded together to arm themselves. The huge, tall thunderheads are tracked up the valley and any team members who lie in their path, inflate their meteorological balloons and attach bombs … which they then explode when well inside the cloud. Hopefully – it’s a rather slim hope – this breaks the powerful updraft which circulates hailstones in the cloud before they get to golf ball size and decimate our vineyards. So instead we just get rain. Which we need. 

Vincent with his bombs

About Tony Laithwaite

Tony Laithwaite, founder of Laithwaite's, whose passion for wine is still going strong!

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