Friday, 11 September 2009

Harvest went well last night as I flicked from winery to winery to keep an eye on things.

I'm back in Beziers first thing this morning where New Zealand winemaker James, shows me straight to the vat holding the freshly pressed Vermentino juice. The immediate cooling has worked like a dream and the sediment has fallen quickly to the bottom of the vat leaving crystal clear juice above.

The transport tanker arrives promptly at 8am. The first thing to do is check the tanker is clean and then drop a scoop of CO2 dry ice to protect the fragile juice from oxidation (when juice turns brown – think of a cut apple after 15 minutes) whilst filling.

The CO2 works because it is heavier than air, so lies on the surface of the juice as the tanker is filling, forming a protective blanket against contact with oxygen. Next job is pumping the wine from the racking tap (the 2nd higher tap on the vat) in order to take the clear juice and not the settled sediment into the tanker.

Once the first compartment on the tanker is full to the brim and a sample is taken, the lids are sealed tight and the lorry is ready to depart for the 2 hour journey westwards to Limoux, to pick up the La Voute Chardonnay juice.

I have a quick stop at Selleles sur l'Aude to check the unloading and bottling of the XV President. Tankers are arriving, unloading, filling, leaving, it’s mayhem and I am up to my eye balls in tankers!

I manage, however, to beat the other tanker carrying the Vermentino to Limoux and taste the Chardonnay juice with Guilhiem Marty (winemaker). I am very, very pleased and I know already that the 2009 La Voute is going to be a stunner! The juice is loaded into the tanker under the same conditions as the Vermetino and as soon as the tanker is full, lids are shut tight. Once the small task of filling in all of the of French paper work has been completed, the tanker can finally make its way to the Chai.

I now head for Carcassonne to re-check the CY Chardonnay and VC Viognier vineyards with Antonio. The grape maturity is a little bit behind the other areas due to a much cooler air flow and more acidic soils but now I taste it is ready.

I decide to harvest the Chardonnay tonight and the Viognier early tomorrow morning. Another long night but after I am happy with the juice. I will leave early to meet Jean-Marc in Bordeaux to look at Sauvignon Blanc vineyards and then to help the guys unload the Vermentino and Chardonnay from the tanker into the Chai.


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