Thursday, 12 March 2009

Spring (and great wines) on the way!

1st February

After a year in French Oak the Grand Chai Margaux 2007
is ready to reveal itself for the first time as a whole finished blend. The wine has been in barrels on traditional stillage (wood supports) unlike our more modern OxO cradles that we use in the Chai. So it’s physical work today as we have to move all the barrels by hand.

Saturday 14th

This weekend brings lots of sunshine so I take a trip out to Bergerac for the day. I found a great little bar restaurant right on the Dordogne called
‘La Gabare’. It has a great ambiance and a good wine list by the glass.

Sunday 15th

The weather remains great and today the talk of Castillon is the local derby rugby game against Ste. Foy la Grande. Ste. Foy is a small town just up the road from Castillon but falls into the department of Dordogne. The game kicked off at the local ground at 3.30pm and it was a good turn out of about a 1000 people! There is certainly no disappointment as the match is full of commitment, energy and powerful elegance (a bit like their wines!).

Monday 16th

Next up for bottling is the G.G. 2008 so today is more barrel work but thankfully the barrels are on the modern cradles so no manual lifting. At the end of the day I can taste the final G.G. 2008 blend and the all talk of the 2008 Roussillon vintage being outstanding is certainly true. The GG 08’ is packed full of flavour and has the most beautiful golden/pinkish colour gained from the excellent maturity conditions.

Tuesday 18th

This morning I am awaiting the arrival of Jean-Marc Sauboua (or known to us as JMS).
He is flying in from London especially to prepare for bottling his prized barrel-fermented 2008 Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc the ‘JMS’. With the smallest yields of Sauvignon for 15 years
I highly recommend to try this wine.

Thursday 20th

Up early this morning for a meeting at our secret source in Lalande de Pomerol to check on our new Grand Chai Lalande de Pomerol wine.

The appellation Lalande de Pomerol is what they refer to as a "satellite" as it encompasses the communes around the northeast edge of the famous wine area of Pomerol nestled between Saint-Emilion and Fronsac. Lalande de Pomerol has a surface area of 1100ha which is only slightly larger than Pomerol (the smallest of all the Bordeaux wine appellations). Sheltered by the Tertre de Fronsac (a large hill) and just 100km from the Atlantic Ocean, the appellation enjoys a unique, vine-friendly climate. Merlot is by far the most widely-planted grape variety but Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon also make a small but valuable contribution to the blends. Merlot produces round, elegant wines whilst the Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon give finesse to the bouquet, deep colour, acidity and structure that adds to the wines' ageing potential.

Look out for the 2007 Grand Chai Lalande de Pomerol as it is a big wine for little money from a truly underrated area.

Tuesday 24th

I get a call first thing from the Jean Charles and Thierry Cazach informing me that my Roussillon wines in Maury have passed the tasting and gained their Cotes du Roussillon Villages Appellation Origine Contrôlée certificate. That means we can bring them up to our Bordeaux Chai so the day is spent organising the right size tanker to be sent to Maury, getting the barrels in place and packing my bag for an early departure tomorrow.

Wednesday 25th

Up at the crack of dawn for a 5-hour drive down to the cellar in Maury where my 2008 Vent de Folie and other wines have been since the start of last October. All the wines are analysed, racked and put into separate tanks ready for the tanker which arrives first thing tomorrow.

The weather is an amazing 23ºC with bright sunshine! The pink flowers of the scattered almond trees against the black slate vineyards look incredible along with the white and yellow of mimosas trees. Spring is in the air!

Thursday 26th

I wake up to see some impressive clouds in the skies above Maury, apparently very rare and caused by hot air rising very quickly in cold conditions during the night.

First I go to see Jean-Charles Durand the owner of the Vent de Folie vineyards and the tanker is on time and waiting outside of his tiny garage winery. The tanker is loaded and off we go – all done by 12 on the dot (surprise, surprise!!) and it is decided by all (truck drivers included) that we find somewhere for lunch in the sun and that we will start loading the second tanker at 14:00. Later I learn that Jean-Charles had already booked a table on the terrace at the Café de Maury at 8 a.m. this morning!! So French!

Here's J-C hard at work ...
and looking forward to a well-earned spot of lunch.

The second tanker is loaded by about 6p.m. and leaves for Bordeaux. I stay in Maury tonight and leave first thing the next morning to beat the tanker back to the Chai.

Friday 27th

I arrive at the Chai about 10 minutes before the tanker and carefully start unloading the different wines into our tanks at the Chai. The sunshine continues here in Bordeaux and I think Spring really is on the way as impressive flocks of ‘V’ formation geese are passing over the Chai all morning.

This afternoon I put the newly arrived Vent de Folie 2008 straight into barrels!

Monday 3rd March

I am bottling the GG 2008 this morning and personally I am very proud of this wine.
Just to give you an idea of what small scale winemaking like this is all about …

I found and chose the vineyards, followed the pruning and the growing season, then I was there to monitor the grape ripening, I was driving around with pickers for the harvest in September, I pressed the grapes and transported the juice to Bordeaux, controlled the fermentation, I put it in barrels, looked after the barrels for 6 months, bottled the wine today and this afternoon I personally fork-lifted the pallets of wine onto the truck for the UK. Handmade (by me!) at every stage – I can’t wait for you to try it.