October 5th 2011, by Gavin
With the growing season almost three weeks ahead of last year, the harvest of our white grapes at Château Bauduc kicked off at the end of August. It wasn’t the easiest vintage, as we had four months of near-drought from March to early July and a tad too much rain from mid-July to the beginning of September. The summer was cool overall but at times it was very humid, which caused problems. In the end, after getting hands-on in the vines to sort the grapes, we’re pretty pleased with the result.
Here’s the story of the white harvest in photos. Click on an image to enlarge it.
Update, Summer 2012: if you’re in the UK and would like to sample the fruits of our labour, you can order the wine here.
September 22nd 2011, by Gavin
We’ve completed our harvest, which is a relief. More on the fun and games shortly: a judicious mixture of hand picking and machine harvesting.
We’re often asked how long we’ve been here, to which we usually reply ’10 years or so’. Hang on. This was, in fact, our 13th harvest.
“Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track myself… You’ve got to ask yourself one question: do I feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?”
September 5th 2011, by Gavin
Gavin Quinney reports from Bordeaux on an unscheduled start to the harvest for one of the world’s most famous estates, and the severe misfortune that fell on an illustrious neighbour.
‘It’s an early vintage, and not an easy one,’ said Charles Chevallier, the Director of Château Lafite-Rothschild, as he checked the Cabernet Sauvignon from their parcel in St-Estèphe in his new harvest reception area. He certainly never thought that he’d be bringing in this late-ripening variety exactly one week before the Médoc Marathon, when over 8,000 runners in fancy dress pass through the vineyards on the second Saturday of September. (In 2010, they started picking their Cabernet on 4th October.)
Unlike this coming Saturday, this is no laughing matter – even if the locals can’t resist a bit of black humour. “They can start the pruning at Cos d’Estournel, because there aren’t any leaves left on the vines,” was the gag made separately by two tractor drivers – one at Lafite, the other at Château Montrose to the north. Neighbours, as well as nature, can be cruel.
May 26th 2011, by Gavin
An early start to the growing season, then lovely weather for the all important-flowering in the vines – three weeks ahead of usual – seems a little too much of a good thing.
Now what we need is a little divine intervention for some much-needed rain and, with any luck, no natural disasters. We have, after all, had one or two catastrophes strike in May (hail, 2009) and June (hail, 2003).
Budburst kicked off early this year, towards the end of March.
February 11th 2011, by Gavin
This article was written for Liv-ex – ‘the insider’s guide to the global fine wine market’ – and published today.
As wine merchants and critics make travel arrangements for the En Primeur barrel tastings in late March and early April, many wise old heads in Bordeaux are keeping shtum about the 2010 vintage. (After the massive prices achieved last summer for the top 2009s, owners and managers would prefer their wines to do the talking in the Spring, as buyers don’t want to hear that it’s another vintage of a lifetime. At least, not just yet.)
As a grower in Bordeaux and dedicated vine-spotter, and being British, the weather is something I like to keep an eye on. I also visited scores of leading Chateaux during the growing season and throughout the harvest. Here are some conclusions, with the help of a few charts, about 2010.
1. 2010 was a very dry year.
2. 2010 was sunny…
3. … but not too hot.
4. Uneven flowering, lower yields?
5. Top terroirs shine, again.
6. Rain in the nick of time.
7. A later harvest (than 2009 and 2005).
8. Harvest ‘à la carte’.
1. 2010 was a very dry year.
I live 15 miles east of Bordeaux and 15 miles SW of St-Emilion between the Garonne and Dordogne rivers. Bordeaux is a vast wine region, and the weather can vary significantly from one end to the other. It’s fair to say though that 2010 was a dry year across all areas.
November 25th 2010, by Gavin
La Gazette was posted to UK customers on 24th November. Let us know if you’d like to be included on our mailing list – email gavin at bauduc.com. Here you can view a draft copy online – simply click on the image below to open a new window and flick through La Gazette using some cunning software called flipdocs. Sadly, it doesn’t work on an iPad. Your comments are very welcome:
October 28th 2010, by Gavin
We harvested our red grapes in perfect condition during October. Whether other Châteaux in Bordeaux are making wines as good as or even better than last year remains to be seen, but after frost here at Bauduc in April 2008 and hail in May 2009, it’s a welcome change for us to bring in such quality, and quantity.
2010 has been a remarkable year for us in so many ways.
1. No major natural disasters: no Spring frost to decimate the yield by nipping the shoots in the bud. No late Spring hail to destroy the young shoots and baby bunches. Even the drought conditions this Summer didn’t dry up our hopes for a splendid crop. Let’s pray that there’ll be no repeat of any damaging storms this Winter.
2. No man-made catestrophes: no tractors catching fire during the harvest (above right, in 2009), and no trailors full of grapes tipping over: our former employee, Sebastien, pictured right, was probably wishing he’d taken a sicky the day I took this shot in late September, 2005. I’ve not published this photo before as it wasn’t exactly our finest hour. We ended up selling the tank of wine that these grapes went into, in ‘bulk’ and at a loss.
October 4th 2010, by Gavin
I wish I’d thought of that. I don’t mean stealing someone’s else crop for filling up our fermentation tanks (as regulars know, this would have come in handy last year, after we lost 80% of our crop to hail in May). But we certainly missed a trick as potential victims of such a crime. We could have had the children crying in front of the cameras.
Now I’m quite sure that there is nothing false about vigneron Roland Cavaille’s claim that his Cabernet Sauvignon grapes were swiped at night last week, costing him some €15,000 in lost revenue and a year’s hard labour. The surprise is that the world’s media have got hold of the story with such fruity conspiracy theories. Google his name and you’ll find 50 news stories about the grape heist, including this film from the BBC.
Here’s a ‘Wine Mafia’ report from the London Evening Standard:
“Two harvesting machines were used to take about 35 tonnes of the ripened fruit from a field in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. “These are some of the best grapes in France, and we fear a wine mafia gang has stolen them,” said a detective. He believes the grapes were taken straight to a specialist to create a fine vintage.”
October 4th 2010, by Gavin
Our red wine harvest at Château Bauduc kicked-off at 6 o’clock in the morning on Friday, 1st October. One 2 hectare (5 acre) block of 12,000 Merlot vines was harvested in tiptop condition, and we were done and dusted by 10.30 am.
A team of eight manned the sorting table to make sure that no unwanted bits went into the stainless steel fermentation tank. (I say manned but the team was made up of one strapping lad known as The Apprentice, plus seven ladies.) In addition, there was Daniel, Nelly, Ange, me – and Guy on his sexy harvesting machine.
With the dry conditions continuing up to the harvest, there was no rot on the bunches whatsoever, so we were able to pick by machine during the coolest, freshest part of the day.
September 28th 2010, by Gavin
The Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon for the dry whites are mostly in – we finished our Sémillon yesterday – and some estates on the Right Bank, in Pomerol and St-Emilion, have picked Merlot from young vines in the last week (such as Château Canon in St-Emilion, below right). The Merlot harvest started in earnest this week in the Médoc. Hardly a grape had been picked there until now, and they’ll start attacking the Cabernet Sauvignon from next week onwards. If you have the chance to see the harvest in action, on both Banks, sometime over the next fortnight or so is the time to come, although there’s much less to see on the outside at weekends.
The weather leading up to the key picking dates could make the difference between, well, seriously good and great. In case you weren’t aware, we had half as much rain in Bordeaux in the six months to the end of August compared to 2009, which was, of course, a dry year.
The weather in September has been fine, with a dash of refreshing rain in the second week and last week on Friday, 24th. As luck would have it, a drying northwesterly breeze blew off any humidity in the vines on Saturday, averting the risk of rot. The forecast is fine, just for the moment. We don’t really want to pick for the reds until next week, although we have harvested some Merlot plots early to make some rosé. This year, just as last, it’s best to bring in Merlot earlier – more so with these chilly mornings – and press quickly to make rosé, as we need acidity and not fully or over-ripe grapes.