Here’s a suggestion if your other half is off the booze, or if you’re on your own at home and you want to enjoy a bottle of decent wine over two nights. Most of us don’t keep a supply of wine in half bottles, and that’s if you can find them. So you simply pour half the contents of a full bottle into a half bottle and seal the latter with the cork you’ve just pulled – at the start of the evening, not at the end. That’s the important bit.
I’ve had plenty of practice at this during during January over several years. This works primarily for full bottles sealed with a cork – there’s no need to do this with our screw-capped white, for example, as that will stay pretty fresh in the fridge for a few days once opened, with the cap back on.
September is usually quite full-on, what with the start of the harvest and a new school year, but the 2017 edition has been bonkers. Not only have we completed the white harvest – which would normally be the case – but, as with the rest of Bordeaux this year, the reds are almost all in too. We’ve also hosted so many events at Bauduc we’ve had to recruit a live-in chef – what we’d have done without Elly, Lord knows. Keep reading
We were delighted that our Bauduc blanc was selected by Victoria Moore for her white Wine of the Week in her Saturday column for The Telegraph (12 August 2017).
“Chateau Bauduc Sauvignon Blanc 2016. 12%. www.bauduc.com. £11.
Englishman Gavin Quinney makes this sauvignon blanc at his estate 15 miles from Bordeaux and it’s lovely – no wonder it’s been the house white at Rick Stein’s for years. Bright but gentle, crisp and modern but not pithy, just fresh with a lemon, elderflower and yellow nectarine taste. Class act.”
July has been a weird month, with mixed weather and a great deal of work in the vineyard. Despite the late Spring frost and cool July, the grapes are already well on the way to changing colour: the veraison, as it’s called, normally doesn’t take place until August and it’s on course to be the earliest harvest of the last ten years, 2011 apart. Yet there’s a long way to go.
We had two short breaks away in July, so apart from an important family get-together near Ypres this coming weekend, we will be here for much of August. We’ll be posting pictures of grapes, vines and various animals on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – see the links below.
We hope you’re well and that the summer ahead is a happy one. Here’s our usual, somewhat patchy review of the month. It’s been pretty hectic for us and we’re hardly scratching at the surface of what we’ve been up to, with so much going on in the vineyard, so much happening around Bordeaux and no shortage of visitors, all of whom have been most welcome.
May has been a month of highs and lows, and that’s before we even think about the vineyard.
Yet we’ve done a lot of venturing into the vines, at Bauduc and beyond. As you can see below, it’s shaping up to be a most unusual year. The crucial flowering – that’s Pavie, above, sniffing a bunch of flowering Merlot last night – is taking place right now..
Download a detailed pdf of this map here
As wine maps go, this isn’t the jolliest. The overnight frosts that swept through Bordeaux at the end of April 2017 were devastating for some vineyards but not for others, so – given the conflicting reports about price rises and chateaux ’holding back stock’ – I thought a map showing the levels of impact in different areas would help provide a clearer picture.
As I mentioned a week after the worst of the frosts, we lost about 50% of our potential harvest at Château Bauduc (near Créon on the map), comprising most of the lower slopes of our 25-hectare/63-acre vineyard.
The extent of the damage from the frost at the end of April is now becoming clear. Following on from three really good, generous vintages – culminating in the biggest Bordeaux harvest for more than a decade in 2016 – we’ve been brought back to earth with a very significant bump. Freezing temperatures in the early hours of Thursday 27 April, and to a lesser extent the morning before, have wiped out the crop in many vineyards, right at the start of the growing season. ‘The Lord giveth…’ you might think. ‘C’est la nature’ a neighbour said, with a consoling shrug of the shoulders.
Until last week, I don’t think I’ve ever taken the risk of Spring frosts that seriously. Really damaging frosts in Bordeaux are rare – the stuff of legends, such as the terrible one in April 1991, which almost killed off the harvest, and the even worse one in 1956, which killed off a lot of vines, notably on the Right Bank around St-Emilion.
We did, though, have a warning at exactly the same time last year, when temperatures dropped to freezing before sunrise (on 29 April, here). A few Bordeaux vineyards took a hit, but nothing compared to the losses in Champagne, Chablis and the Loire.
Being based further south, I’m less of ‘G for Gel’ man than ‘G for Grêle’. As anyone who is familiar with our tales of woe, it’s the threat of hail that sends me into a nervous spin. We lost over half the crop in May 2009 and again in August 2013 to hail, so it’s understandable.
But all that changed last week. ’Le gel dévaste les vignes de Gironde’ ran the headline in the Sud-Ouest last Friday, 29 April. And it wasn’t an exaggeration. Keep reading
If you’re not familiar with Sir Alex Ferguson’s famous line, please forgive us, but this has been a fraught month on many fronts. A serious risk of frost damage in the vines, the possibility of a catastrophic pairing in the final run-off for the French Presidency, and football – bloody hell.
The B-word we’re limiting ourselves to this month is B for Bordeaux 2016. It’s a terrific vintage that the trade and press are about to taste in situ, and our fascinating analysis of how the weather made it is linked to below. What made 2016 particularly unusual was that many French regions were far less fortunate for both quantity and quality.