The sun has stopped shining in Bordeaux and short spells of rain mark the end of the autumnal top-up that made the wine producers smile for a while. They have not got a lot to smile about this year. Sugar levels are surprisingly quite high but acidity total (malic and tartric acid combined) levels are also very high and not going to change quickly now (malic acid will reduce after the second fermenation so is not such a worry). They have to pick before the rains come whatever. Wine producers are rushing to complete any last minute preparations before harvest starts. It is already record-breakingly late. Normally the juice would be happily fizzing away by now – the yeasts busy turning the sweet syrup into wine.
Franck Moureau of Chateau Beard La Chapelle, Grand Cru St Emilion based in the hamlet of St Laurent des Combes starts harvesting tomorrow. It will take the harvester 5 full days to pick his 17 hectares which are spread in parcels over the commune and adjoining ones. He grows predominantly Merlot (which matures first) and some Cabernet Franc. Hopefully he can squeeze these days in before the forecasted low pressure arrives at the end of next week.
See Vat News blog 31st October
The grapes from each plot have been regularly analysed for sugar levels, tannin ripeness and acidity levels (tartric and acid and total). This is carried out by a local oenology laboratory. Each plot has different results due to their differing soil types, age of vines, grape variety, lie of the land etc. This is obviously taken into account when choosing which plots to harvest first.
2008 Dry and Sweet White Wines: Yields are down this year due to poor fruit set due to cold spell during flowering in May. The dry whites have been already harvested (Semillon and Sauvignon). Yields are down by 30%.
The sweet wine producers have just started to pick their first ‘tri’ literally combing the vineyards for individual grapes that have been affected by the ‘noble rot’ fungus. Depending on the year they will be doing five or six different pickings. Will be visiting Second Growth Chateau de Myrat in Sauternes on Monday 6th October.