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Wednesday, 03 August 2016 14:56

2016 Pre-Vintage Update!

Pre-Vintage Update!


The temperatures are rising at Sainte Rose and we are busy preparing for our 15th harvest!  We are looking forward to this harvest even more than usual as we have lots of new equipment to use that will both enhance the quality of the wine we produce and improve our efficiency during this very taxing and stressful period.  With the help of European grant funding our biggest new investment is a brand new 100hl Xpert press from Bucher Vaslin!  This magnificent beast of a press is not only impressive to look at but impressive in its functionality.  It is fully automated with an exceptional range of programming that can be adapted according to grape variety and wine style that you wish to produce.  It monitors the flow rate, senses when the juice collection tray needs to be pumped to the tank and even cleans itself automatically, so it really will transform the way we receive and process our grapes.


In addition to the press, we have replaced our original cold water cooling system for the tanks with a glycol cooling system and must chiller.  This is a far more technically advanced and effective system that will reduce the temperature of the juice for cold settling as it enters the winery and will significantly reduce the amount of energy used during this process.  We have replaced old inefficient pumps with new remote controlled devices that will make work in the winery more streamlined and effective.  This includes a flotation pump that we will use for settling some grape juice prior to fermentation as an alternative to cold settling.  This is a more rapid process, results in less lees and less wine losses through racking, though it will not be used for more aromatic and delicate juices or for our top of the range wines.  


Given the cooler start to the growing season and fluctuations in temperature, 2016 will not be an early harvest.  It is likely that we will harvest some Chardonnay early next week for our sparkling base wine, with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc for still coming later that week or into the following for still wine production.  The longer hang time will only enhance flavours and happily the weather is looking stable for the foreseeable.  Look out for updates over the coming weeks as we progress through the Sainte Rose harvest 2016!

Published in Wine talks
Thursday, 26 November 2015 09:59

Autumn 2015 News!



First 2015 Vintage bottled

Harvest 2015 was long and tiring, but ultimately very successful and we have been delighted with the quality of the wines as they begin to age in their respective barrels or tanks.  No such ageing is necessary for our hugely successful, fresh and vibrant rosé wines, the grapes for which were picked way back in August!  The first of our 2015 Rosés are already bottled, are on their way to their respective clients and will be available before Christmas in the UK!  Gone are the days when Rosé is saved for the summer, these are deliciously drinkable and a perfect, festive pink aperitif!


Exclusive Naked Wines UK Super Premium 2014 Syrah Released

We’re delighted to announce the release of the Cuvée Spéciale MMXIV, which was showcased at the Naked Wines Christmas tastings a week ago.  2014 was such an exceptional year for reds at Sainte Rose, particularly the rhone red varieties, that we though if there was any year we could make a super premium red it was then! Our grafted Syrah block yielded particularly concentrated, quality fruit and it was from this that we created this special cuvée, which is a statuesque, powerful and deeply flavoured single varietal Syrah matured in new and one year old french oak.  


2016 Investments

In any good business, reinvestment in infrastructure and equipment is fundamental to ongoing success so following our 14th harvest at Sainte Rose, we are planning significant investment in both the vineyards and the winery.  Replacement of the pump and filter for our bore hole is top of the list for viticultural items along with the extension of our drip irrigation system into the Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc vineyards.  We are also going to replace our 3 row Hardy foliar sprayer in order to treat the vines more efficiently and effectively.  In the winery the top of the list is a brand new 100hl Bucher Vaslin press, which is double the size of our current press and will make processing the volume of grapes that we are now producing so much easier and efficient.  A new extended refrigeration system is equally important along with a must chiller and flotation pump.  

Published in Wine talks
Saturday, 19 September 2015 06:21

Harvest 2015

Harvest 2015


The past 6 weeks have been a hectic rollercoaster of picking and processing, but we are pleased to say that almost all 36 hectares worth of grapes and juice are now safely in the winery at Sainte Rose being carefully monitored through primary fermentation!  What is left is a few rows of our older block of Roussanne, which we have left on the vine to concentrate in flavour and pick up some noble rot, with a view to making a limited edition late harvest sweet wine!


It has been a strange harvest, with periods of intense activity interspersed with nervous weather watching as a number of storms blew through the region.  In our particular area, none of the storms were as violent or wet as predicted by the forecasters and had no adverse effects on fruit quality.  They did however provide a bit of respite from the long hours of picking and processing in order to manage the increasing workload in the winery.


The fruit and subsequent juice quality has been excellent this year with clean, healthy fruit, good yields and fantastic flavours.  The vinification work is ongoing in the winery, but it is looking like a very good year!

Published in Wine talks
Wednesday, 03 June 2015 14:00

May Madness, 2015!

May Madness, 2015!


May is always a busy month at Sainte Rose and this year has been no exception!  In the vineyards the vines are growing at an exceptional rate, the canopy filling out to create a pale green fringe along the rows.  The trellising wires need to be raised to keep up with the rate of growth and the shoots at the foot of the vine need to be removed so that all the energy goes up the trunk to the tiny beginnings of the bunches of grapes that are forming at the fruit wire.  The weeds are also growing apace so inter-row mowing and inter-vine ploughing is required so that the weeds don’t compete with the vines for soil nutrients.


In the winery, we have been blending and bottling more wine from the 2014 and some of the barrel-aged wines from 2013.  With the start of summer there is huge demand for our 2014 Rosé and our entry level single varietal 2014 Chardonnay and Merlot are now available.  Our 2013 Le Pinacle Syrah/Viognier, which has been ageing for 18 months in French and American oak barrels has now been bottled but we will allow it to bottle-age for a few months before it is released.


It has also been a busy month with trade visitors to the Domaine including our Agent from the United States and the Sommelier & Sales Manager from Vinmonopolet in Denmark.  As a result of these visits there is more wine heading Stateside and our first ever order going to Denmark this week.  We are particularly pleased to see the start of our partnership with Vinmonopolet in Denmark who are listing 5 wines from our range.


Sainte Rose has been on the road too, with presentations to Majestic Wine store staff in Leeds, Manchester and London, presentations to Naked Wines sales staff in Norwich and 3 busy days at the London International Wine Fair at Olympia.


Phew, we could do with a holiday now, but have another bottling planned this month and a week touring cities in the UK for consumer tastings with Naked Wines, so never a dull moment!

Published in Wine talks
Monday, 08 September 2014 12:59

Storms during harvest!

Storms during harvest-Update!


09:00h, Friday 3 October 2014, Domaine Sainte Rose-  Update!


There has been a lot of publicity about the severe storms that have lashed the Languedoc over the past 3 weeks. Worst hit has been the eastern side of the department of the Herault, with particularly striking flooding images of the centre of Montpellier. For those vignerons and producers who had not finished harvesting and those who had not even begun it has been a hugely stressful period!


At Sainte Rose we were incredibly lucky to have all of our grapes harvested well before the storms. We started picking Chardonnay for sparkling base wine on 31 July, which is the earliest ever and had all the white varieties safely in the winery by the 15th of August. We lost no time picking our red grape varieties and all of these, for rosé and red wine, were safely in the winery by the 15th of September – phew!


Ironically, given all the drama over the weather, 2014 is looking like our best ever vintage in the 13 years we have been growing grapes and producing wine at Sainte Rose. And much as we sympathise with those badly hit by the storms, the prolific rainfall has been very good for replenishing the water reserves that had become much depleted during the very dry spring and summer. As they say, every cloud has a silver lining!


09.00h, Monday 8 September 2014, Domaine de Sainte Rose


Hail is every producer’s nightmare and over our 12 years at Sainte Rose we have thankfully never had any serious hail damage.  As I write this post, there is a storm raging right overhead in Servian and there has been what sounded like the rattle of hail.  Fortunately that fateful rattling was very short-lived and certainly not sustained enough to do any serious damage, but it has certainly done nothing to settle the nerves of the Sainte Rose team!  We had been due to harvest Mourvedre for rosé starting at 03.00h this morning, but brought it forward to 23.00h last night due to the inclement weather forecast.  The grapes were therefore safely in the winery and the work done before the storm began!  We’ll be carefully checking our remaining parcels for any minimal damage later today, but happily have already brought in all our white grapes and a significant amount of the red in what has been a very early harvest.

Published in Wine talks
Wednesday, 13 August 2014 09:18

Vintage 2014 Begins!

Earliest ever harvest!


Almost 3 weeks earlier than last year, on the 31st of July, we started picking Chardonnay for our Sparkling base wine! This is the earliest we have ever started picking grapes in the south of France and we have been the talk of the town! None of our neighbours could believe that the grapes were ripe at this early stage. As many of you will know, we need to pick the grapes at about 10 or 10.5 degrees of potential alcohol for the sparkling base as it then goes through a secondary fermentation in the bottle, usually gaining another percentage in alcohol and will then receive a dosage upon disgorgement. The final wine will end up at around 12.5 % alcohol, which is the ideal for a sparkling wine.


We started picking in our 20 year old block of Chardonnay, where the fruit was clean and concentrated. The yields were slightly lower than average on this less vigorous, more mature block, due to the dry conditions that we have experienced this year. We were also picking from our new block of Chardonnay, which we planted in 2012. This block has grown very vigorously from the start and in spite of the dry conditions in 2014 the yields for its first year of production were very healthy. It will be interesting comparing the juice and subsequent wine that each block has produced.


The temperatures soared over the following week and on the 7th of August we decided to start picking more Chardonnay from both blocks, this time for still wine. This was also 3 weeks earlier than last year! We also harvested our small block of Muscat Petit Graines in front of the Chateau at Sainte Rose, whose intense aromas in the harvesting bin and receival area always makes for a memorable vintage moment! We harvested over two days and then again four days later, ensuring that we have a full flavour spectrum from the two blocks of Chardonnay which we will cross blend in due course.


So as you can imagine we are relieved to have two of our six white varieties already safe in the winery and will be starting to pick Sauvignon Blanc later this week. Watch this space for a subsequent vintage update next week!

Published in Wine talks
Monday, 02 June 2014 09:27

2014 Competition Results!

 2014 Competition Results!


This year we selected two international wine competitions in which to enter a small number of our wines, with quite considerable success!  Much as we value and prefer the feedback of our end consumers rather than that of a professional tasting panel, we are delighted how well our wines have showed against many other high quality wines from around the world!


In the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles 2014 we achieved the following results:-

Gold medal – Simpsons of Sainte Rose Low Yield Roussanne 2012 

Silver medal – Simpsons of Sainte Rose Old Vine Syrah 2012 


In the Decanter World Wine Awards 2014 we obtained the following results:-

Silver medal – Coquille d'Oc Rosé 2013

Commended – Simpsons of Sainte Rose Low Yield Roussanne 2012 

Commended – Le Vent du Nord Roussanne/Chardonnay 2012 

Published in Wine talks
Wednesday, 02 October 2013 14:33

Harvest Flight Over Sainte Rose

Harvest Flight Over Sainte Rose


The video below was filmed in September 2013 during our grape harvest.  With the use of a Quadcopter and Go-Pro camera, we were able to capture these unique shots of the chateau, vineyards and winery.  Enjoy!




Published in Wine talks
Monday, 23 September 2013 15:28

End of the '13 White Grape Harvest

End of the 2013 White Grape Harvest


All six of our white grape varieties have now been harvested and their juice is safely in tanks in the winery.  The early varieties such as the Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are almost finished primary fermentation, whilst the latest varieties that were picked over the weekend, the Marsanne and Roussanne, have been cold stabilised, racked and will gently begin their fermentation over the next couple of days.  It has been a very intense white harvest due to the late start, with more overnight picking in quick succession than in previous years.  Happily apart from one very wet weekend, which halted the harvesting, the weather has been stable we have been able to pick at the optimum time for each variety.


Along with the whites we have also been harvesting reds for rosé, which has added to the intensity of the past couple of weeks.  We treat these red grapes as if they were white, separating the juice from the skins immediately to ensure that there is not too much extraction of colour or tannins.  This morning was the final pick of Mourvedre for rosé and the grapes came in looking clean, fresh and full of flavour.


Later this week we will turn our focus to red grapes for our red cuvées.  We already have two large tanks of Syrah in the winery, which are gently pumped over on a daily basis to extract colour and tannins from the skins and which, after pressing will complete fermentation and age in oak barrels.  This week we will be picking Grenache and Merlot.


So a large part of the harvesting is behind us and although there is still a lot of work to be done to complete the creation of our 2013 wines, the riskiest part and constant weather watching is nearly over.  Hurrah!



Published in Wine talks
Saturday, 14 September 2013 08:01

2013 Harvest Update

2013 Harvest Update


The late-starting 2013 harvest has now picked up speed and is proving to be as full-on as we expected it to be.  The first Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc grapes for still wine were picked on 29/30/31st of August, the latest start date ever for still wine!  In that first tranche we also picked our small block of Muscat, which came in with its usual intense aromatics – proving once again a little goes a long way!


As usual, we don't pick all of the same variety at once.  Our goal is to obtain a flavour spectrum from our fruit, so we take some deliberately early for vibrant varietal characteristics and acidity and then later picks for more luxurious texture and sugar content.  So that being said a little under one week later we harvested a second tranche of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.


At that stage we were forced to pause due to torrential rain (65mm), which meant that there was a risk of dilution as the vines absorbed the water and quite frankly we couldn't take a tractor or harvester into the vineyards!


As of yesterday morning we were able to start again, when we were taking the first harvest from our new block of Roussanne and Viognier, whose yields were remarkably healthy for their first year.  This is most likely due to the wet spring we had this year, which has meant no hydric stress across the vineyards.  We were also starting to pick some early reds for Rosé and will be continuing with this over the next couple of days in addition to harvesting some Merlot for red wine.


The early mornings don't get any easier, but it is good to already have a third of our grapes off the vines and the juice safely in the winery.  The fruit is clean and we're delighted with the quality so far, which makes it all worthwhile!

Published in Wine talks
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