The Notebook

A look back on the harvest

A look back on the harvest

Our winemaker Antoine Arnault’s birthday was somewhat overshadowed on 17th October 2013 as we began picking the Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier crop early that day and continued long into the late afternoon. (Sorry, Antoine!) However we were blessed with beautiful sunny and warm weather, unlike the previous week, and this encouraged the pickers to pick quickly so that we could process the grapes within a very short time. (This is paramount to the quality of the resulting wines.)  The Chardonnay plots were harvested on 29th and 30th October.

 

Overall the quality was good.  The fermentation process took about two weeks for each variety from start to finish. This was the first year that we were able to use our fully gravity-fed process from press through to the end of fermentation, without the vibration and hums from pumps and without the electrical solution in the winery as we transferred from tank to tank it was wonderfully peaceful and quiet! 
 
The Chardonnay musts reached good levels of ripeness and excellent acidity – a virtually perfect balance. At harvest time we decided to leave the Chardonnay grapes on the vines for almost a week longer than the Pinots in order to maximise the maturity levels. This is always a difficult decision to take, because the longer you leave picking, the greater the chance that rain will bring some rot. In fact a small number of grapes were affected by botrytis – a type of ‘friendly’ rot that plays an essential part in creating some of the world’s most famous sweet wines such as Sauternes. Botrytis is not so desirable for dry or sparkling styles because it brings an unwelcomed honey/ marmalade taste to the wine, but luckily the decision to delay picking has proved to be the right one.
 
The Chardonnay still wines are full of flavour with crisp acidity and a lovely roundness on the palate – and no impact from the botrytis. We think these wines will develop to be wines of great finesse with freshness, elegance and excellent aromatic structure. Very exciting!
 
The Pinot Noirs are also very good – beautifully structured with aromatic complexity. The grapes were extremely healthy: a good size and very ripe in terms of sugar, flavour and colour.  As a result the still wines are also juicy and full of flavour.

 

We’re also happy with the Pinot Meunier wines, although the level of ripeness was quite varied across different plots in 2013. In the end we decided not to pick the entire crop but instead to be extremely selective, ensuring that only the ripest and best quality grapes were collected. Although the overall ripeness of the resulting wines is not as high as the Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, they still have some lovely flavours.
 
We’re now all looking forward to the assemblage tasting in April!