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Friday, 1 April 2011

I’ll just bid farewell till we meet again

Three more wines bottled, capsuled, labelled, boxed and transported to UK this week, next time I see them will be in London for the Vintage Festival!

Tuesday 29th

Tuesday started off dark as I loaded for bottling the first wine of the week, the 2010 ‘Révélation du Baron’. So with the routine bottling line programme; sterilised, wine ready, bottles cleaned, filling heights regulated, cork pressure perfect, labels at the right height ready amidst the April showers we started the bottling.

Last year I made the last vintage of the Baron’s Roussanne before he grubbed up the vines. After having a more in-depth look at his vineyards I discovered some excellent Marsanne (another southern Rhone grape varietal) and what I thought was the perfect blending partner for the remaining Roussanne vines. Six months down the line my vision became reality! The Marsanne gives zest and structure to the rich sun loving Roussanne, very pleased indeed!

Wednesday 30th

Wednesday saw the Grand Chai Bordeaux Blanc 2010 loaded for bottling. Our new little bottling centre JMS and I carefully planned has certainly been tested to the full with no problems at all, phew! Routine bottling line set up done and then I began to load yesterday’s wine onto the truck bound for UK, first time it has left my sight since last September!

The afternoon I scooted off to an area in the Entre Deux Mers I had never heard of called Saint-Martin-De-Sescas to meet my friend and winemaker Vincent Maestri. He showed me a wine by pure chance last week, it was very good indeed so I wanted to see the owner, vineyards and cellar for myself … a very good little hidden find indeed, I will be taking this one under my wing from now on.

Back to the bottling to check all is good before passing to the Chai to see that Denis has started to place the 600 DIFFERENT barrels in the correct rows for the 9 reds that will arrive during next week!

Thursday 31st

Truck was waiting when I arrived at 7 am to load yesterday’s first batch of 2010 Grand Chai Bordeaux bound for England, another wine I have nurtured from grape over the last 6 months also to be reunited with soon. Routine bottling line set up done.

Mid morning more trucks arrived but this time carrying our newly purchased stainless steel wine vats. This is a winemakers best present but these ones are extra special. They are called in French ‘cuves chapeau flottant’ (or floating hat vats) which is when the lid can be lowered to sit on the surface of whatever volume of wine you have in the vat. The food grade bicycle tyre around the edge of the ‘hat’ is then pumped up sealing the lid and hey presto zero air contact whilst the wine is stored. The vats were carefully unloaded off the truck and onto little skateboards and simply wheeled into the cellar!


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The rest of the day was spent moving 400 barrels and arguing with ‘petit’ Denis about which end of the barrel was the cleanest end to face outwards on show. End of the day back to bottling to check the and clean the vats ready for tomorrow.

Friday 1st

Friday we bottled a very different wine and in very different weather, sunshine and 26ºC by mid morning! The last bottling of the week was the 2010 VO made from Spanish varietal Verdejo from the sunny region of Rueda - viva l’Espana!

A well deserved Voyageur lunch for the Chai team, all the locals in including barrel man Jose who brought over a little taste of fellow diner the unknown Clos de la Cure Saint Emilion Grand Cru . No wonder the Chef was acting strange last week - even serving deserts - as I learn from Madame Mimi he has left to Madagascar alone on his annual 3 week fishing trip. Madame Mimi seems to be rather looking forward to the next 3 weeks as much as he his! Chipman is on hols too so chips were good but NOT chipman worthy!

Tied up the end of the VO bottling, 2010 Bordeaux Primeur next week!

Bon weekend


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