slow and steady wines the race

…or so they say. Though it doesn’t feel like we’re winning any races as we wait for the grapes to ripen. (The wining, however, is well underway!)

Proof that we’ve had lots of rain this year; this data shows the rain this year (green) compared to the five year average (grey), as well as temperature ranges for this year (yellow) and the 5 year average (blue).

We’ve had a lot of rain through the summer, nearly twice as much as the average rainfall during April to August. Temperatures have been close, but not quite as hot, and the cooler days have been a little more frequent than usual as well. Fortunately for us, September is proving to be slightly drier than usual (quick, knock on wood, the month isn’t over yet!), and we’re all holding our breaths that the weather holds out long enough for the grapes to ripen nicely without any diseases. Read More

when autumn leaves start to fall

Harvesting the Pinot Gris from the steep slopes of Rangen calls for smaller baskets.

Harvesting Pinot Gris from the steep slopes of Rangen calls for smaller baskets.

It’s been six weeks since my last post, as I’ve been preoccupied with the busy harvest days, and the lead-up to the end of my stage (and therefore my return to Bordeaux). The days pass by in a blur. There’s a rhythm to this faster pace particularly around the end of September, although it is punctuated by slow days when we’re not harvesting due to unreadiness of certain grapes and parcels.

In broad, broad terms, the harvest begins with the grapes in the Pinot family: Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Auxerrois, and even Pinot Noir, the only red grape we have. This is followed by the Muscat, Chardonnay and Riesling, and Gewurztraminer tends to be the last to be ready. I emphasize broad terms because many factors can impact the decision to harvest each varietal: the geography – the plains tend to be harvested before the slopes (the generic wines before the Grand Cru wines), and the soil – the granite tends to ripen earlier, and the volcanic rock later. Additionally, the type of wine desired also impacts the timing decision: grapes for drier wines will come in before grapes for sweeter wines, like the Late Harvest planned for some of our Pinot Gris. Read More

the fruit of our labour

The harvest is finally here! After tasting and analysing the grapes from various parcels for a few weeks, the domaine has decided that our grapes are ready to be harvested. Some of them, anyway. With so many different grape varieties and types of terroir, let alone parcels with different elevation and sun exposure, we will have roughly 20 days of harvesting ahead of us, which could be consecutive, or spread out over six weeks. The appellation needs to declare the official start to the harvest, based on input from various analyses throughout the region, but domaines can apply for an earlier date if their parcels indicate a higher level of maturity. This year the Crémant harvest is declared on September 12, and the still wine harvest, a week later on September 19. Sparkling wines are typically harvested earlier because the balance needed for the final wine is slightly higher acidity and lower sugar levels than for still, dry wines.

Other wineries start harvesting the crémant while we are still gathering our prélèvements, or samples for analysis.

Other wineries start harvesting the crémant while we are still touring the vineyards, gathering our prélèvements, or samples for analysis.

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let’s kippis!

Tram B, not unlike the New York subway system in the summer, has its own special micro-climate (technical term). Described by some as ‘surprisingly tropical’ it is consistently a departure – and somehow always surprisingly so – from the weather conditions on the outside of the tram, particularly during early morning journeys to school.  Dressing oneself in the morning is a careful exercise of selecting clothing appropriate for the walking portion of the trip, but that can also be divested quickly and with a minimum of arm movement, as once inside the tram, one is hemmed in on all four sides by other students drawn, like mosquitos to light, to the various campuses in Pessac.  (Mosquitos are clearly still on the brain chez moi.  N.B. The plugins are far more effective than the sprays.)

The infamous Tram B passing the opera house. My morning walk takes me across this field.

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