Friday, 6 August 2010

The Calm before The Storm ... or So We Thought!

Normally it’s the calm before the storm or ‘harvest time’ right now but real storms have been raging all over France. Ste Colombe got away this time but Maury wasn’t quite so fortunate and was shredded twice this week by golf balls of hail!

A very worried JC called me from Maury 10 minutes after the destruction to tell me he has lost the entire young Grenache vineyard – however his granddad was a clever man and planted vineyards in different areas of the valley. The saying ‘don’t put all your eggs in one basket’ has certainly been true because the pockets of old vines on the opposite side of the valley have not a scratch on them!

I called other friends and winemakers like Daniel and Kathy, Thierry and Paul of Cave Co-op Maury, Andree and more. It’s a long list and there was mixed emotions but the people from here are remarkable and they are already in the vineyard with admirable high spirits to salvage what is left.

The good news is I managed to reserve extra parcels before most people had even heard of the bad news. I’ll make a trip down as soon as possible but it proves that a bit of inside knowledge and a man on the ground is a very useful thing indeed.

The harvest is sneaking up on us here in Bordeaux and ‘veraison’ or changing of the colour is just beginning. It’s fascinating to see as each bright pea-green berry turns at what seems like a blink of an eye into a violet and then deep purple grape. It’s said by locals that from this point to picking time is roughly 6 weeks.

In The Grand Chai where we make the whites it is buzzing away. Swirling water, whirling pumps, clicks of switches, roars of air from the cooling unit and running of the cooling belts can be heard but no juice yet – it’s just cellar master Petit Denis doing his pre-harvest clean and testing of equipment!

The cooling unit is being tested thoroughly and as I programme the computer for each vat, Denis is flicking the switches on the main control board in the cellar.

Within seconds the cooling belts are freezing cold and after a trial of different temperatures it’s on to the next vat.

The testing of the cooling is quite a nice experience in the summer heat but tomorrow we test the heating!



Brian Morrison said...


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Mark Hoddy said...

thats great, thank you