These plastic boxes haven’t appeared for a while, but they are a sure sign of what is soon to come. They are, of course, the cagettes vendanges, into which the grapes are placed when they are harvested. Today (August 19th) and the last few days have seen hard work in cleaning and preparing. I wrote earlier this month about the work which has been carried out to repair and update the cellar and work brings dust and debris which have had to be cleared up. Then everything has to be pristine ready for the start of picking. All vignerons will be doing this but when you make wines without the safety net of sulphur cleanliness is even more important.
And in case you think that I simply turn up to take photos and drink the wines:
Well it is one way of staying cool on a hot day. However, job accomplished.
Inside the cellar the new cuves have to be prepared too with new equipment, Michel and Julien were busy with that.
Jeff was busy too, moving some of the fibre glass and stainless steel cuves into position so that when harvest begins the grapes can be moved as quickly as possible into tank for fermentation.
Indeed everyone was busy except for one member of the team who decided that this was all beneath him, besides that water is not something which appeals!
The harvest itself is likely to begin next week, Monday or Tuesday. Recent weather has been cooler at night and this will help keep the grapes in good condition but they are not quite ripe just yet. Having tasted a few in recent days the juice is getting sweeter and but the pips are still green and hard. They are healthy though and some, like the Syrah, look tremendous.
As the hard work will begin shortly it was a timely occasion to celebrate last week. Jeff’s father and niece celebrated birthdays and a very enjoyable party was held on Sunday at Rue De La Pompe. Some bottles included a 100% Mauzac from Plageoles, a Gaillac wine which confirmed for me that Mauzac is the best of white wine grapes in that region. (See here). And two lovely champagnes from Drappier with no dosage of sugar added and in one case no sulfites. Natural wines are beginning to influence all regions and some big names.
Naturally the stars were closer to home however. Lots of great wines including Coutelou classics such as Classe, La Vigne Haute, Vin Des Amis but also some new ones for me. Grenache Mise De Printemps was lovely velvety and fruity, a great rejoinder to those who say Grenache can’t make good wine without blending. And it had the most lovely aromas. ‘Snowball’ is a white wine of real texture and depth, very long.
The celebrations went on long into the night and things got a little hazy including my camera so this photograph is not one of my best. This was Jeff’s first sparkling wine made in 2007 and in fantastic condition, fresh, clean and very full. So much for natural wines being only for the short term.
Now the countdown is really ticking so that this year’s grapes can produce wines of such quality all over again. Or indeed, even better.