Hot off the presses. Well, more like cool to the press on the morning of September 7th. The pickers were in Segrairals but this time working in the fairly youthful plantings of interesting white grape varieties, Aramon Blanc, Clairette, Clairette Rose, Servant and Olivette. Jeff is a firm believer that variety is the spice of life and wine. And the more varieties the better. The Flower Power vineyard (Font D’Oulette) was the trial run for what has been happening in recent years. That parcel was planted with over twenty varieties of grape, some so obscure that even the national conservatory was unaware of them, for example Clairette Musquée, Delizia di Vaprio and Aramon Gris. Jeff was so pleased by the results that he has continued to expand his palette range to provide more choices for his own particular art. A new planting of Xarel-lo in Peilhan is the latest example.
From Segrairals arrived these white grapes, put directly into press. The blend of different grapes will provide a natural complexity to the resulting juice and wine. Olivette grapes are often used for eating rather than wine and are related to Poulsard the red grape widely grown in the Jura. Servant is another variety commonly used for the table whilst Aramon Blanc is an early ripening mutant grape from its more celebrated red relative. Clairette Blanc has become a favourite of Jeff in recent years with plantings elsewhere and its first single variety bottling released in 2021. It has a lovely slight bitterness on the finish which Jeff has come to think is important for wines grown in warm regions affected by climate chaos, as natural acidity is harder to achieve. Its mutant Clairette Rose provides colour and variety.
Meanwhile Matteo was working in another part of the cellar on some grapes and wines picked earlier in the harvest and also from last year. This latter was destined for barrel and some longer ageing, a blend of Carignan Blanc, Grenache Gris and Macabeu. Another example of the tapestry of interweaving activity going on in the vineyard, cellar and Jeff’s imagination. In the photograph below you may be surprised to see the colour of the wine emerging from the stainless steel tank as it looks quite brown. This is normal, the effects of contact with oxygen and it will clear as the wine settles in its new resting place. Indeed, the contact with oxygen will help to stabilise the wine for the future, making it less susceptible to oxygenation, rather like a vaccine works.
Carignan is one of the grapes most famous from the Languedoc and there are two parcels in Jeff’s vineyards. The Carignan of Peilhan would be the last parcel picked in 2022 but the best Carignan comes from Rec D’Oulette (sometimes called Chemin De Pailhès). This is usually made into Flambadou, one of Jeff’s most celebrated and best wines. 2021 saw this parcel badly affected by frost and Jeff was worried when I was with him in June that the vines might still be suffering and prone to disease. Fortunately, the disease risk was low this year and the vines grew well with some lovely fruit. Boris and I did most of the sorting for these grapes on the afternoon of the 7th and all day on the 8th. In truth there was not much to sort, the grapes were in good shape and hopes for Flambadou are high for those of us who love this wine which ages so well. I have included a couple of photos of the seeds and skins and the bucket used to collect juice after destemming just to show the vibrant colour of this Carignan.
One day of vendanges remained. What would it bring?