Chateau Bauduc – the start of the harvest, by hand

Bauduc harvest 2016 - hand picking Sémillon for the sparkling crémant

Bauduc harvest 2016 – hand picking Sémillon for the sparkling Crémant de Bordeaux

I thought I’d bring you up to date with how the harvest is progressing, week by week, and to send you the latest links to our photo galleries – on, here on my blog and on Facebook, no less. It is also means that I have yet another excuse (’le marketing’) to avoid cleaning the press.

Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon: that’s the normal sequence for harvesting our grapes to make still wines in Bordeaux* because that’s the order in which they ripen, all other things being equal. However, we picked a parcel of Sémillon for our sparkling white wine before anything else, as the juice shouldn’t be too rich in sugar and needs to have bracing acidity.

The bunches to make Crémant de Bordeaux have to be picked manually – by law, would you believe – into stackable crates. And the crates have to have holes in, apparently, unlike the ones we borrowed two years ago (tut tut). The contents of our newly-purchased crates are then tipped into the press for ’whole bunch pressing’. We then clarify the juice and cool-ferment it in a stainless steel cuve. (And yes, we have a formal contrôle next week to make sure we’re obeying the rules.) The second fermentation in bottle – the traditional method, like in Champagne – takes place later.

Each morning was bright and sunny for picking. We did, though, have an almighty scare on Tuesday evening as a huge storm closed in, with the threat of hail festooned across the forecast graphics. As the rain lashed down with strong winds, there was a nerve-jangling, intermittent clatter of hailstones on the west-facing windows, like pebbles striking a tin can, but thankfully nothing worse than that. The vineyard was untouched and we’d escaped, along the rest of Bordeaux as far as we know.

As it turned out, we had more rain that night than in the previous twelve weeks put together. No bad thing after such a dry summer and it also seemed like we’d crossed from Summer to Autumn in one fell swoop. It’s helpful too, especially for our white grapes, that the early morning temperatures have dropped from over 20°C to around 12°C. Bring on the chilly starts for those aromatic, fresh and fruity Sauvignons. The forecast looks positive – dry now, at least.

Onwards and upwards. If you’d like a daily dose of our #bdx16 harvest, do follow Gavin Quinney and Chateau Bauduc on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

*We also have tiny amounts of Sauvignon Gris, Malbec, Carmenère and Petit Verdot, but let’s not over-complicate things.

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