Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The Chai negociant business is in full swing

The first wine to be bottled from JMS’ eagle eye and quick selection (backed up by myself being ‘on the ground’ to make sure all is well at the winery) is a little 2009 Bordeaux gem from Chateau Bellevue Favereau in the village of Pellegrue in the Entre-Deux-Mers.

This wine will soon be in the UK and on the Laithwaites wine list, so for all those Bordeaux fans out there keep an eye out for this little beauty.

Apart from the pressure of the ever closer harvest here in Bordeaux, the other most important news is that the cold mornings have meant Le Voyageur restaurant have served the first homemade soup starter since last winter!

Madame Mimi’s homemade soup is also the catalyst for the first ‘Chabrot’. Petit Denis patiently talked virgin Chabrot taster James from New Zealand through the process rather like an air hostess doing the safety talk before the flight begins!

Chabrot is a traditional Dordogne ritual when you leave the last of your soup broth in the bowl, place your spoon upside down in the liquid and pour in red wine – diluting the soup but NEVER covering the spoon – then slurp away!

As you can see from the photos, Henry demonstrates and executes the very difficult but obviously satisfying act of ‘Chabrot’ perfectly!

The grape harvest is such a wonderful thing and every year it brings together the permanent Chai winery staff and the ‘flying’ winemakers into a close family as we are together morning, midi and night. This also brings the usual running cellar jokes, sayings and favourite songs.

At the moment the current trend is the “Petit Denis Says” stories. Petit Denis always has a story or fact on the tip of his tongue and I would like to include a small “Petit Denis Says” quote in the blog throughout harvest, so here are two Petit Denis classics to get the ball rolling:

No 1 “Petit Denis Says”:
He knows the best driver of a machine grape harvester in Bordeaux and apparently he is such a good driver because he was also the personal driver for The Queen of England for 10 years………..

No 2 “Petit Denis says”:
The root of the word ‘Chabrot’ comes from the Latin word capreolus meaning ‘to drink like a goat!’

Meanwhile back in the cellar and after a bit of in depth research I am doing something all books tell you not to do, exactly what the Chai is for!

Firstly I am purposely oxidising a small part of the Chardonnay juice until it turns tea brown called ‘hyper oxidation’ followed by adding two different yeast strains. If the theory works it will be one hell of a wine, fingers crossed!

2010 XV du President begins harvest tomorrow so it’s another trip down to Maury.

Tasted some great English ale over the weekend too – Will Laithwaite’s very tasty Abingdon Bridge kindly brought by Henry in the car from the UK.


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