It’s been an icy couple weeks here in the foothills of the Jura, with a strong bise wind blowing down from the Alps, funneling down through the Lake Geneva basin and wearing itself out to points south of here. It’s dry, it’s cold, and it can be unrelenting for as long as it lasts, usually a few days.
A bise is the word used for the traditional French kiss-on-the-cheek greeting (three kisses in our region), but the bise wind feels more like a sharp slap.
In the heart of winter, a strong bise can whip the waters of Lake Geneva into a frenzy, leaving behind well-known images like the one below. We aren’t there yet, although we did get some snow and ice.
Not only did the bise finally come to an end this weekend, but I found some other good news.
In spite of a cold winter, a wet spring, a hot summer punctuated by extreme storms and hail, and the latest grape harvest in years, the Champagne region managed to increase its harvest results over those of 2012, and had the best harvest of the past five years.
Not bad, all things considered.
Other wine-producing regions haven’t been as lucky, especially the Alsace and Bordeaux areas, which were badly affected by hailstorms.
This is unfortunate, but as a Champagne drinker, I stay focused on the positive:
According to the Confédération des coopératives vinicoles de France (CCVF), the French collective of wine-producer cooperatives, there are hopes that this vintage may turn out to be exceptional in quality, as well.
The first tastings of the vin clair, the still wine that precedes the production of champagne, will give some indication in early 2014. The first bottles of this year will be sold in 2016.
No more bise and a promising Champagne vintage after a challenging year? I feel my mood lifting already.
Now here’s some divine bubbly stuff that comes, appropriately, from a movie called Stormy Weather.