Caryl (English) and Jan (Dutch) swapped a globe-trotting lifestyle for the backwaters of Cépie, in Languedoc’s hilly, chilly Limoux. They bought Rives-Blanques (named after a Pyrenean peak) about 10 years ago.
The estate has 22 ha of vineyards and was one of first in France to be given the agriculture raisonnée accreditation. 2.4 ha of Chenin Blanc were planted in 1970 in anticipation of the 1972 blending-regulation changes and there are 7 ha of gnarled old Mauzac vines, gobelet trained. Their 9 ha of Chardonnay are divided into several vineyards, the highest of which has galets roulés stones – common in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and even Roussillon, but exceptional in Limoux, where they compete for space beneath the vines with a multitude of wild flowers. A couple of hectares of Sauvignon Blanc were planted in 2006 for a Vin de Pays.
Caryl works hard to promote their wines via their blog, website and e-newsletter, via which we learn that the Panmans are resilient sorts: so far this year they have been snowed in (twice), climbed the eponymous peak of Rives-Blanques, and sailed an Ette class dinghy (called BlanquEtte) over the Irish Sea.