Thursday, August 20, 2009

Vintage update

Just a few quick words on how 2009 is shaping up.

We’re about a month (or less) away from harvest and so far so good. The first three weeks of August have been exceptionally hot and dry - a welcome change from the past three years. The vines are very healthy and the grapes are looking good with basically no rot at this stage.

Sugars are rising and the acidity dropping, perhaps a little faster than would be completely ideal. 1997 seems like the obvious comparison vintage at this stage, but as ever such speculation is just a bit of fun while we wait for harvest. Plenty time for change yet, not least because the forecast looks stormy.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Vendanges en rose

Apologies that it’s been an age since my last post; I intend to be significantly more diligent over the coming months!

Anyway, for now I wanted to write about what I’m calling les vendanges en rose, or pink-harvest. Instead of a green harvest (which I’ve written about before here) this year I’ve decided to wait a bit longer before removing bunches from any over-loaded vines.

The advantage of waiting is that the colour change makes it very easy to identify (and remove) any bunches which are lagging behind. I do sometimes wonder whether arbitrarily dropping green bunches earlier in the season really serves much purpose – at least at this stage I feel confident that the average maturity has taken a step forward after what is a very time consuming task.

To illustrate see the animation below of one vine in my Côte-de-Nuits-Villages (Brochon) vineyard.
The often cited problem with dropping bunches so late is that the sugar they contain can turn to alcohol… and then vinegar. As well as making your vineyard smell terrible there is a small risk that the acetic acid bacteria spread to the grapes still on the vine and sour the future harvest. Thankfully I find the dropped bunches remain innocuous (and shrivel rather than ferment) on condition that they are not crushed – so once this job is done the vineyards are out of bounds for a couple of weeks.

I’ve even heard of people collecting these pink bunches – A bit of chaptalisation and a bit of deacidification, et voila,… house rosé!