The start of the harvest

September 3rd 2015, by

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The start of the white harvest – in pictures

September 3rd 2015, by

Our harvest kicked off this morning. Usually, there’s a bit of breathing space between the end of the school holidays and the start of the vendanges but the vines are more advanced this year. So it’s all go.

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The bunches are healthy and the leaves bright and verdant as we move into the final stretch. The forecast looks promising so the whites will be picked next week, mostly, during the cool of the early morning. We’ll harvest the red grapes for making rosé at around the same time, a week or two before the first Merlots for producing red, and lastly the Cabernets.

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August rain: much needed refreshment

September 2nd 2015, by

Forget the rain dance. Our review at the end of July, following six weeks of drought, was called ’Time to borrow some rain’ and it did the trick: Mother Nature acted on the collective response of ’you’re bloody welcome to it’ with some heavy showers in August. In fact, we had more rain at Bauduc in August than in the three previous months put together. Conveniently, the last instalment of rain was on 31 August, which is just as well.

Here are some pics and, yes, a weather graph or two.

At Bauduc, we had half the normal rainfall in May, June and July combined, then twice the normal rain (or the average over 30 years) in August. No rain since the (UK) Bank Holiday Monday, with none forecast for the first ten days of September.

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Bordeaux 2015 – dry and sunny, still

August 6th 2015, by

Véraison, when the grapes change colour, is in full flow in Bordeaux. The dry and sunny weather has continued into the first week of August, with a welcome blip of rain in the early hours of Tuesday this week. With most of France taking a holiday, there’s a lull in the work in the vineyard between the hard labour of handling the vines from Spring to Summer, and the build up to the late September harvest. (The whites will start earlier.)

Bordeaux2015August1There’s always some tidying up that can be done now, like the éclaircissage seen here at Chateau Margaux this week – the removal of excess bunches to prevent overcrowding; we’ll see more green harvesting as the veraison draws to a close, when it becomes easier to spot the bunches that are lagging behind. Meanwhile the trimming of leaves with a Japanese sword, as at Chateau Léoville Poyferré (below), isn’t something I’d practice at home.

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July Review

July 30th 2015, by

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Time to borrow some rain

July 29th 2015, by

As you know, farmers are never happy, so forgive us for wanting just a smidgen of rain as we’ve had precious little since the second week of June. It’s also been blisteringly hot for long periods and, as few people realise, us Appellation Contrôlée vignerons are not allowed to irrigate our crops. Still, other than the younger vines on drier soils, the rows look remarkably green and lush here, so we remain positive for the Autumn harvest.

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We’ve seen half the normal rainfall since the new season’s growth kicked off with budbreak at the start of April. The Autumn and Winter of 2014/2015 brought 25% less rain (356 mm from October 2014 to February 2015, inclusive) than the 30-year average (470 mm), so it’s not as if we began with a water surplus. Since then we’ve had much less rain than normal, each and every month:

March 2015 40 mm v 64 mm (30 year Bordeaux average)

April 2015 – 51 mm v 78 mm (ditto)

May 2015  – 26.5 mm v 79.8 mm

June 2015 – 46 mm v 63 mm

July 2015 – 15.5 mm to date v 50 mm

Total since budbreak, April to July 2015 139 mm v 271 mm

Note that these figures are local (20 kms SE of the city) and may not be the same for all Bordeaux regions, although it’s a similar story elsewhere – the last six weeks have been dry and hot everywhere in Bordeaux. Other areas, such as Margaux, Léognan, St-Emilion and Blaye, have also had half the normal rainfall since the beginning of April, or even less. The Northern Médoc has seen more rain than us, and that was in April, May and early June. I’ll publish the stats from other areas shortly.

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Why wine is cheaper on the Continent

July 27th 2015, by

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June Review

June 30th 2015, by

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Bordeaux facing 40˚C

June 30th 2015, by

This post is also published on JancisRobinson.com and Liv-ex.

Come at the end of June’, I said to my mother when we arranged for her to stay, a while back. ’The weather should be nice then.’ It has indeed been hot and sunny but we certainly weren’t predicting that the temperature could reach 40°C this afternoon. We – and the vines – are bracing ourselves for a heatwave over the next week, with the odd storm mixed in for good measure.

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You can identify Bordeaux because it’s the one marked 40˚C. In June…

The prospects for the vintage, heatwave notwithstanding, are bright. Bordeaux had close to ideal conditions for the rapid flowering in late May and early June, which was crucial for the size and evenness of the crop; then rain after the 9 June was helpful for the thirsty vines.

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How technology is helping wine makers bypass supermarkets

June 26th 2015, by

Victoria Moore, The Telegraph’s wine critic, wrote an interesting article on 20 June about European wine producers selling direct to UK consumers; naturally, we were delighted to be included – to be fair, there isn’t a long list to choose from – and to have our white described as ’beautifully crisp’.

… Social media – together with simple email – is enabling small producers to form a more intimate relationship with those who enjoy drinking their wine.

Intimate? Steady on.

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Anything but this

In fact, the piece was given the title How technology is helping wine sellers bypass the supermarkets, presumably by a sub-editor, with the introduction “Wine producers are using social media to sell bottles directly to their clients, with no middle-men required.”

Of course, ‘wine sellers’ are not usually the same people as ‘wine producers’, as Victoria explains:

‘Bypassing retailers and agents to sell direct is hardly a new phenomenon – I think every British wine drinker is born with an ancestral memory of stopping at a French roadside for a dégustation.

‘But modern communications technology is transforming the experience. Each of us is now like a miniature station, capable of broadcasting the minutiae of our lives across the world on multiple channels from Snapchat to Periscope to Instagram. This is enabling a joyful inversion of Amazon’s “long tail”; instead of one faceless retail giant amassing volume by selling tiny quantities of a large number of lines, social media – together with simple email – is enabling small producers to form a more intimate relationship with those who enjoy drinking their wine.

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