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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