September 23rd 2009, by Gavin
Given that we’d lost most of our 2009 crop (and a fair chunk of 2010) to hail in May, we could either have thrown in the towel, or gone in search of more vineyards to buy, or take under lease. We were tempted by option A, but umpteen, welcome messages of support from customers – some on this site – persuaded us to get off our butts.
If we’d been in, say, New Zealand, we’d simply have gone out and found some grapes to make up the 80% loss. It would have been up to us – not the State – to ensure that the quality is good enough to go into our ‘brand’: about 70% of the grapes that go into Villa Maria’s consistently good wines, for example, come from contract growers.
September 21st 2009, by Gavin
A 5 minute video update on the state of our vineyards at harvest time, 4 months on from the devastating hailstorms in May.
September 20th 2009, by Gavin
After some handpicking fun at the start of the harvest, it’s now down to business.
For the past five vintages we’ve harvested the white grapes – and the reds for rosé – by machine, in the small, wee hours of the morning. Early, chilly starts make for zippy, fresh grapes, even if we ourselves look a bit doggy at the end of the day. So you’ll be pleased to know that we don’t feature in this 5 minute clip, which might be of interest to wine lovers who have never seen harvesting machines at work.
This 4 hectare (10 acre) block of Sauvignon Blanc was the only white parcel at the château to produce any reasonable amount of grapes following the hail in May – and the grapes from here have always gone into our Bordeaux Blanc Sec. But the yield from this more protected part of the vineyard was still only 20 hectolitres (2000 litres) per hectare, way down on the maximum quota allowed in 2009 of 65 hl (6500 l)/ha.
September 11th 2009, by Gavin
The 2009 Bordeaux white wine harvest at Château Bauduc began at 9am, on the ninth of the ninth.
We picked a couple of hectares of young Sauvignon Blanc vines by hand, with the help of some of Britain’s most talented students and the youngest members of the Quinney family who don’t have school on wednesdays.
June 3rd 2009, by Gavin
Never mind the recession, the strong euro, the weak pound, increased duty costs and global over-supply of cheap, industrial wine. It’s back to nature, and sometimes nature can be cruel.
Thanks for watching, and excuse the French. Feel free to leave a comment below, or a question.
May 13th 2009, by Gavin
In the middle of the night, at 3.30 in the morning on 13th May, we were battered by a hailstorm. And when violent winds accompany the sound of hail, we know it’s very bad news. Parts of Bordeaux were hit the night before, on Monday 11th, and we’d had a smattering of peanut-sized hail too. Our vineyard manager Daniel joked yesterday that if we’d been included in that storm, with hailstones the size of new potatoes, we should change our métiers, or jobs. I don’t think he was expecting lightning to literally strike twice.
On close inspection first thing this morning, this is by far the worst we’ve seen here. We lost 50% of the crop on 24 June 2003, and last year we had frost in April that wiped out much of our sauvignon blanc.
February 10th 2009, by Gavin
As Oz Clarke and James May prepare to wrap up their third series on BBC2 (Tuesdays, 8pm), here is their very first Big Wine Adventure pitstop back in August 2006.
‘How was your trip?’ I asked. ‘You’re the first living people we’ve seen’ was James’s first dejected remark to us, after their long drive south to Bordeaux. Their Wine Adventure had begun.
In hindsight, it would have been better not to mention the price of a bottle as it dates very quickly. £6.50? These were the heady days when the exchange rate was 1.47 euros to the pound, and UK duty on a bottle was a lot less.
If you’d like to leave a comment, or ask a question, feel free to do so below.
January 28th 2009, by Gavin
We lost several trees in the storm last friday night, including the ancient and beautiful cedar at the farmhouse. It’s a great shame, and the view from the house won’t be the same without it. It’s going to be a hell of a job to clear it all up, and we’re already a bit behind with the winter pruning. The tree has fallen across the vines, which have just been pruned.
What’s strange is that I’d planted a little corner of different varieties for test purposes right here – chardonnay, riesling, viognier, chenin blanc, pinot noir, syrah and so on. All completely illegal of course under French appellation law* but the vines are clearly identified, ahem, as being part of the garden, not the vineyard. The huge branch has fallen right across the chardonnay. So there is a God, or at least one who’s on the side of the people who make the rules.
October 15th 2008, by Gavin
We’re bringing in all the merlot this week, so everyone’s helping out on the sorting table. Most of the time we’re removing any unwanted leaves or green bits, as we just want the fresh, ripe grapes going into the fermentation tanks.
So the children can cope just as well, as can Ronan, the former head sommelier from Gordon Ramsay’s, below.
October 13th 2008, by Gavin
It’s the week of harvesting most of our Merlot for the reds. The quality is surprisingly high with minimal rot, and I suspect that 2008 will be a far better vintage than we might have hoped for just a few weeks ago. This is the view of the vineyard at 7.45am, and it’s quite beautiful, with the fairly narrow, 1.5 metre wide rows of merlot we planted in 2002 in the foreground, and the sauvignon blanc down the hill towards the woods.