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Tuesday, 13 August 2013 15:59

The Waiting Game!

The Waiting Game!

 

This time last year we had already hand-picked some Chardonnay for our Sainte Rose Sparkling and were about to start harvesting for still wine!  In our 11 years at Sainte Rose, we have always started the harvest before the Beziers Feria, but this year is going to be the exception!  As the 15 August public holiday approaches we are still waiting for the grapes to ripen.  

 

In the vineyards as of Sunday the Chardonnay was only showing 8.5% potential alcohol and the Sauvignon Blanc was at 8.3%.  The reason for the late start is obvious due to a cold winter, a very wet March and a very cool May and June.  Maturity is accelerating as the temperatures soar, but we are currently running about two weeks later than usual.

 

As you would expect, we are watching the weather closely, especially given the crop decimation by hail in various other regions of France.  There has been 20% damage to vineyards as close to us as Limoux and localised damage in some areas around Servian.  

 

Meanwhile the winery is being prepared for action with a deep clean of all the equipment and finishing touches being put to all the improvements we have made this year.  Maturity control will be carried out twice a week now to keep track of ripening rates in the early whites, so watch this space for news!

Published in Wine talks
Tuesday, 28 August 2012 09:14

Vintage 2012 Week 2

Vintage 2012 - Week 2

 

Last night, at the end of the second week of vintage 2012, we had to postpone harvesting for the first time this year, due to storms.  Up until now the weather has been sunny, settled and extremely hot, accelerating grape maturity and ensuring a steady flow of white and rosé juice entering the winery!  The storm only brought 8 mm of rain, which is not significant, therefore we will not have to worry about dilution of the berries and can continue with the harvest as soon as possible.  More worrying was the threat of hail, which could have been devastating to our crop, but happily this threat has not materialised ... yet!

 

The second week brought in a second 150 hectolitre lot of Merlot for Rosé and three press loads of Sauvignon Blanc.  The winery feels as though it is filling up fast!  More Sauvignon Blanc was due to be picked this morning, but weather permitting, we should be able to bring it in tonight.  The temperature is much cooler after the storm and the vines will be appreciating this and the sprinkling of rain after the 40 degree C temperatures we experienced last week.

 

In two weeks we’re already a quarter of the way through the harvest – but it still feels like we’ve got a long way to go!

Published in Wine talks
Monday, 06 August 2012 15:29

2012 Pre-Vintage Update!

2012 Pre-Vintage Update!

 

As the start of the 2012 harvest approaches we have already begun watching the weather very carefully!  Our harvest has begun as early as the 11th of August and although this growing season has been a little cooler, this year we have the added dimension of picking Chardonnay ultra-early to make the base wine for our Sainte Rose Sparkling wine project (more on that coming SOON!).  After a very humid day yesterday storms were forecast and there was a risk of hail.  The storm broke this morning, with fortunately no hail!  The ground is barely wet from the 5 mm of rain that fell, but it may have pushed the start of the vintage back a couple of days.  Small amount of water at this stage of the season, especially after a very hot, dry couple of weeks is actually a good thing, aiding homogenous maturity and ensuring that the vines do not shut down in the heat.

 

The sprinkling of water will also help the later ripening red grape varieties complete véraison.  Véraison is 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 return during this crucial ripening period, while we continue to count down to our eleventh Sainte Rose harvest!

Published in Wine talks