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Displaying items by tag: 2011 grape harvest
Thursday, 22 September 2011 12:39

The Last Whites!

The Last Whites


Marsanne and Roussanne are the last two white grape varieties that we havest at Sainte Rose.  They originate from the Rhone valley, which has a similar climate to the Languedoc, thus they thrive in the warm, dry growing conditions that prevail in our area.  We choose to let these two varieties mature a bit longer so that sugar levels are a little higher.   The reason for this is that these are not fresh, light varieties, they are rich and luxurious, very well-suited to fermentation and aging in oak barrels.  This is the style of juice that we are looking for for our Barrel Selection/La Nuit Blanche Roussanne and Le Marin Blanc Marsanne/Roussanne blend.


These two varieties are very often blended because of their similar styles along with the other white Rhone variety Viognier.  At Sainte Rose as with all our other varieties, we vinify each variety separately, only embarking on final blends when the wines are finished.


This was the last of the overnight picking of whites.  There remains only two red varieties left to harvest before vintage 2011 comes to an end.

Published in Wine talks
Friday, 16 September 2011 13:57

Making the 2011 Merlot!

Merlot ripens early but can be delicate and needs to be treated carefully!  It is usually the first red grape variety that we bring into the winery and this year was no exception.  As with most varieties this year the flavours developed earlier with lower sugar levels and good acidity – perfect maturity!  


This clean, healthy fruit was the ideal candidate with which to trial a system of co-inoculation in partnership with our good friends at Oenobrands!  This new product, NT202, co-inoculates yeast (for primary, alcoholic fermentation) and bacteria (for secondary, malolactic fermentation) at the same time.  The goal with this product is to complete both fermentations much earlier and to keep levels of Volatile Acidity (VA) low.  So far it has proved to be very effective.  The Merlot juice has now been taken off the skins and the skins pressed.  Primary fermentation has finished and malolactic fermentation is 80% complete, which is extraordinary as in some years secondary fermentation has not completed until November!  


What this means for us is that as the external temperatures drop we will use less electricity to maintain the red wines at a warm enough temperature to finish their fermentation.  Less energy consumption during the vinification process and less manipulation in the winery makes our Merlot a very PC product!

Published in Wine talks
Thursday, 01 September 2011 13:42

2011 Muscat and Viognier Harvest


Our parcels of Muscat and Viognier are relatively small compared to the large blocks of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc that have already been harvested at Sainte Rose.  Size however, (so they say), is not important!  These two varieties are small, but essential and very important components in our Coquille d’Oc white blend, providing wonderful aromatics.  These aromatics complement the structure provided by the Chardonnay and balances the acidity of the Sauvignon Blanc in this unusual but hugely successful blend.


The Viognier also plays an important role in our oak-aged Pinacle Syrah, which is a Cote Rotie style red wine.  We blend 5 % Viognier with the Syrah, as they do in the aforementioned Rhone appellation, for three reasons: firstly to stabilise colour, secondly to perfume the wine and thirdly to soften the chalkiness of the Syrah.

Published in Wine talks
Wednesday, 17 August 2011 12:48

2011 Sauvignon Blanc Harvest

Sauvignon Blanc 16th of August, 2011


Second in the picking order as usual is Sauvignon Blanc.  We pick it early to get the best possible varietal character in what is usually a cooler climate grape.  We’re looking for fresh, green, almost herbaceous flavours for the first pick.  Sweeter, fruit flavours come a little later, but we can’t leave it too long.   If you pick this variety too late it loses all interesting flavour, becoming flat and flabby!


The first two picks resulted in juice at around 10.4 on the refractometer, which will ferment to dry at just over 11% alcohol.  Next pick scheduled for Friday.  More then ………..


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Published in Wine talks
Friday, 12 August 2011 13:50

2011 Chardonnay Harvest

Chardonnay 12th of August, 2011


The first grape variety to ripen at Sainte Rose is always the Chardonnay.  As it was for our first vintage in 2002, so it was for this, our 10th harvest.


Maybe it is the terroir, maybe it is the aspect, maybe it is a combination of the two in conjunction with our wonderful sunny climate here in the south of France!  Regardless, as soon as the berries turn golden and assuming the weather is kind, the Chardonnay is first into the winery and the juice becomes the first fermentation of the year.


On the 11th and 12th of August, we picked about 23 tonnes of Chardonnay grapes, which after destemming and crushing turned into 180 hectolitres of juice.  This juice was cold settled over 3 days before being racked off the ‘gros lies’ (i.e. sediment).  It will now be inoculated with yeast and carefully managed through primary fermentation.


The start of the harvest is always an exciting time and the whole family as well as the whole team were present to see the first berries picked.  We even had our Machine harvester’s elderly father looking on (his 36th harvest!).  He came because he loves the smell of the berries and juice as they are picked and transferred into the winery, and he was anxious to be part of one of the first nights of picking in our area!



Published in Wine talks
Friday, 08 July 2011 14:38

Pre-Harvest Update

Pre-Harvest update


So after the ‘wacky weather’ we had earlier in the year, our climate seems to have settled down into a more usual pattern and thus our stress levels are returning to normal!  At the height of our stress we pictured the harvest starting before the end of July, but that is just not going to happen.  Mother nature has settled our nerves by the fact that the early vine varieties are only just beginning their véraison.


Véraison is essentially the beginning of the ripening process, when the berries turn from hard green to soft purple or golden yellow/green depending on variety.  The berries get bigger, begin to accumulate sugar and acidity starts to drop.  Factors affecting véraison include the weather of course, but also the aspect of the vineyard and position of the vine.  The end vines are more exposed to the sun for example thus are likely to begin véraison first.  The management of the canopy is also a factor as those grapes shaded by a heavy, humid canopy will take longer to go through véraison than those where the canopy has been lifted to ensure exposure to the sun and circulation of air amongst the berries.


In general terms it takes around 40 days from the start of véraison to harvesting.  What we need now is for the warm, dry weather that we have been enjoying to continue during this crucial ripening period.  The weather however is never possible to control and we can see that there are storms forecast for next week!  Forecasts change and storms are usually very localised, but it is not good for those stress levels, which have just begun rising again!


Published in Wine talks