Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Harvest at Le Chai - Part 1

Wednesday 30th September

 Bottling of a decade-old treasure

Today was an exciting day at Le Chai – the team arrived at 7am to greet the mobile bottling line. Not exciting in itself, but today our 2005 Font del Bosc vin doux naturel from Maury was going to emerge from a decade in barrel and be bottled. Ah – that is some wine. We had a glass of it in the winemakers’ lab to swirl and sniff all day – rich, dark, raisiny fruit, with hints of honey, mocha and big spice. Still really fruity and lush – this is a wine, in small bottles, to savour slowly with select company, a bowl of nuts to crack and a roaring fire.

A mere 4,200 50cl bottles of 2005 Font del Bosc were bottled – a delicious sticky

Not only that, Le Chai also took delivery of 33 one-year-old barrels from Château Valandraud. They might not be brand new, but they are still a hugely expensive item on the shopping list. They’ll be excellent for our Le Grand Chai clarets.


Over the last three weeks, all the whites for Le Chai’s wines – both Bordeaux and southern France – have been harvested, and in peak condition. The juice has been brought to the cellar and has been slowly bubbling away.

Bordeaux 2015

Let’s start with Bordeaux and it’s been a phenomenal year – wonderfully warm, dry weather since March; shorts weather since May and peaks of heat in June and some good rain mid September which saved the vines from totally shutting down. Not even too hot for the whites, we just had to pick sharpish. Some amazing storms, too, at the end of August, when the whole landscape, in typical French storm style, was lit up by sheet lightning. No rain, however, the clouds had dropped their load before they got to us.

So all the Bordeaux whites are in the cellar, some are even through their fermentation, with a few still chugging away.

With all that sunshine since May, the grapes are healthy and ripe and the berry size nice and small

Midi 2015

The east side of the Midi was equally blessed in 2015 too, with a great deal of sunshine and fine weather through flowering and on ‘til harvest. West side of the Midi suffered some flooding, but our Limoux vineyards, on the Océan Atlantique sector, are luckily t’other side.

Having spent a whole day taking samples from every one of the 59 barrels of La Voûte – that’s the Chardonnay from down there – I can tell you it’s smelling totally lush. Coming straight from wood it’s a bit creamy, toasty with some intense ripe apricot fruit and lemon character. Very, very promising indeed. One of the best ever for sure.