Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Bordeaux harvest: day eight

Published:  23 July, 2008

Alexandra Martet and Jean-Christophe Mau give a flavour of the Bordeaux harvest from across their properties in the region: in Entre-Deux-Mers, Pessac-Leognan and the upper reaches of the Medoc (Ch Preuillac). Merlot has come late on the left bank, and acidity is high.

Alexandra Martet - Chteau Lavison, Entre-Deux-Mers

Tuesday: my anxiety isn't just down to the quality of the harvest. It's all the images of the past year running through my mind, the hours spent in the vineyard, pruning, tying down, removing suckers and lateral shoots. The vines become our family and, when they suffer, we suffer too.

In the cellars, it's calm, the alcoholic fermentations continue, but less fiercely. Now we are waiting for the better weather forecast for the end of this week so we can start picking the Cabernets on Thursday.

Stephane (Becquet, agronomist from Yvon Mau: effectively Lavison's consultant) has found that the first tanks of Merlot are correct and we will do a big tasting of all the tanks on Thursday when the tanks will have fermented dry. This will give us a good idea of the vintage because over half the production is now in the chais.

Wednesday: we have finished preparing for picking tomorrow, all the reception area is disinfected and ready. We still have 20 ha of cabernet to harvest. Merlot fermentations are almost finished.

Based on the tastings with Stephane tomorrow, we will decide if we are going to continue to macerate on the skins and also if we are to do a bit of microbullage (micro-oxygenation).

The harvest period will have been particularly short this year, barely 15 days and with just a week between the Merlots and Cabernets. What a strange year it's been!

Jean-Christophe Mau - Chateaux Brown (Pessac-Leognan) and Preuillac (Mdoc)

Wednesday: despite threatening clouds, we started the harvest of Merlot at Chteau Preuillac, once the morning showers had finished. The grapes are in perfect condition, only a few damaged bunches per hectare, which is exceptional for the vintage.

Acidity is relatively high, with total acidity around 3.5-3.6. Potential alcohol is 12.2-12.4 and yields, at least for the Merlot, are around 50 hl/ha.

The grapes are pretty ripe, so we will not waste time and expect to pick all the Merlot parcels in the next six days. This means harvesting on Saturday, which may come as something of a shock to the pickers!

Another unusual thing about this year's harvest is that we do not expect there to be any break in picking between the Merlots and Cabernets.

Anyway, it is the weather that will ultimately determine that. The first tastings of the must give us reason to hope that the potential quality of this vintage may be significantly higher than the capricious climate would have indicated.

At Chteau Brown, the rain prevented us picking this morning, but we picked a parcel of young Cabernet vines this afternoon. We are unlikely to pick on Saturday.

We are almost finished picking and with the anticyclone influencing conditions, we prefer to wait longer for maximum ripeness.

In order to combat occasional spots of rot, we have powdered the latest ripening parcels. Amazingly we still have one plot of Merlot to harvest, which has not yet ripened, which we will be picking after the Merlot at Preuillac.

Which just proves, this vintage is breaking all the rules.