February is bottling month at Château Bauduc for the previous vintage’s whites and rosé. It’s the culmination of 16 months’ work when you take into account the pruning of the vines the winter before. It’s yet another time when we’re nervous about the weather – in previous years the machine has frozen up – but we were lucky this time. We bottled our 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, Les Trois Hectares Blanc and our Rosé.
The harvest was completed at Bauduc last Friday, 21st October. We picked the remaining block of Cabernet Sauvignon by hand, just as we did when Rick Stein came to film the opening episode of his Long Weekends series for the BBC a year ago. (Where does the time go?)
It’s been a long harvest in 2016 and strange to think that the first rows we picked – also by hand – were the 10-year old Semillon vines for our sparkling cremant in the next door field as far back as the 12th September. (Funny, that seems like an age ago.) Keep reading
We harvested the Merlots, mostly by machine, during the week of 10th October. The grapes looked terrific and one advantage of bringing them in cold by machine at the crack of dawn, is putting them into a chilled stainless steel tank for a cold soak for a few days before starting the fermentation.
Some of the great chateaux we most admire, such as l’Evangile in Pomerol, Smith Haut Lafitte in Pessac-Leognan and Malescot St-Exupery in Margaux, also like to do a pre-fermentation ’cold maceration’. Their pickers snip the bunches into crates during the day and the winery staff drive the pallets of crates into a chiller room, usually overnight, before de-stemming and sorting the bunches and transferring the grapes – cold – into tanks the following day. Keep reading
We picked all our Merlot this week, so we’ve just got our Cabernet to go and that’ll be that. More on the red harvest at Bauduc in next week’s missive, suffice to say that we’ve been lucky with the weather. It’s been dry and sunny until yesterday afternoon, which is good for bringing in the grapes and, of course, for taking photos. It’s also unusual to have all the children at home at this time of year, so it’s only fair that we put together a gratuitous family album. Keep reading
This week has been dry and sunny, so we’ve decided to hold off harvesting the reds at Bauduc for the moment. We had a heavy dollop of rain last Friday night – straight after we’d sent out an upbeat monthly review – so an excellent September came to an abrupt end. Thankfully though, the rain was just a one-off and since then we’ve had fresh mornings and glorious days. We therefore thought we’d leave that downpour to freshen things up in the vineyard, and hang on for what they call optimum ripeness.
We also have a useful early warning system nearby, thanks to the earlier maturing vineyards of Pomerol some 25 minutes up the road near Libourne, where Tom goes to school. Our Merlot usually ripens 8-10 days later than at the top chateaux on the plateau of Pomerol so, after dropping Tom at school, it makes good sense – in the name of research, of course – to study the harvest taking place on one of the finest patches of dirt in the world. Keep reading