Monday, 19 September 2011

Guest Blog: A Harvest moon

By Hugo Levingston
Domaine de Mourchon

An unusually warm start to the growing season back in April / May brought bud break and flowering forward setting us on course for an earlier than usual harvest. In July the temperatures cooled off somewhat, slowing down the growth cycle and giving the fruit a chance to develop at a nice leisurely pace. In mid-August there was a good amount of rain followed by high temperatures giving a nice boost to the sugar levels.  So far September has been textbook perfect with full sun and a moderate mistral to keep excessive maturation in check and allow the grapes to finish their cycle with a lovely phenolic balance.

And so we attack the 2011 harvest a good ten days in advance of the norm.  This year we have the blessing of a perfectly full harvest moon watching over us as the buckets and secateurs are dispensed to our chattering team of Polish and Moroccan pickers while the tractors take their places at the head of the rows. This year we are bringing in the Grenache before the Syrah for a change.  This is partly because of the unseasonably warm conditions at the time of fruit set allowing the Grenache to be first off the starting block and also because Sebastien, our winemaker, took the decision to thin out the leaf canopy after the August rains which meant the fruit was exposed to more air and sun which giving optimum ripening conditions.  The fruit comes into the winery in top condition leaving the workers on the sorting table pretty much redundant.  The berries are small and beautifully concentrated, almost like raisons on the outside with delicious strawberry and cherry-sweet juice inside – all this is well supported by a nice, lively backdrop of acidity.  The tannins have reached maximum maturity and so are discrete and the pips have evolved to taste more nutty than green.  Next it’s the turn of the young Grenache that is destined to go straight into the press and to be made into the Rosé.  Very different characteristics here to the old Grenache - lighter more delicate skins with much more fleshy interiors and plenty of sweet fresh juice.

Over all it looks like we will be bringing in a lower yield than 2010 but what is lacking in volume certainly seems to be compensated for in quality.  However, we won’t be celebrating just yet as some storms and rain are predicted for the weekend so - as always in this game – anything could happen.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Our wine advisors dish up their favourite food and wine combinations

In the first of our Averys staff food and wine matching series, Wine Advisor Duncan Pilbeam pairs a classic, fresh Soave with Spaghetti alle Vongole.

Pieropan Soave 2010 Italy - £17.99 if ordered as 6 or 12 bottle case

Incredible purity of fruit with a fine, fresh mineral finish.

Nino Pieropan is joined by his sons, Andrea and Dario in producing Soave from the Classico zone.

They started in the 1930’s growing Garganega, a thick-skinned and late-ripening variety well equipped to deal with the local weather.

Their Soave has tremendous mineral complexity with ripe almost honeyed fruit on the palate. They sacrificed the Classico appellation in order to bottle the wine under a screw cap, believing this helps to maintain the freshness.

Château de Bel - 10 days in!

By Bryn Stephens

It was a pretty hot last day of my holiday, 43 degrees in Montauban at the peak. It was not the kind of day you would want to spend in a sticky, crowded southern franch train carriage, but the thought of getting to Libourne and starting my aventure properly quickly dispelled any thoughts of the inner organ penetrating heat. One word of advice to the holiday makers who come here and use the trains though; arrive at least half an hour early for your train if you have to order a ticket from the ticket office. The people who work there are great and give you all the information you might need... but apparently all the customers need to know every piece of knowledge the world has to offer, so it can take a while.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Our former wine advisor Bryn starts his French experience... (well... sort of)

My last day at Averys was a smorgasboard of emotions and excitement. Saying goodbye to colleagues, friends, my customers old and new was a good deal tougher than I ever thought it would be. For those customers I did not get the chance to speak to before I left I hope you enjoy exploring the world of wine with Averys! I was completely overwhelmed by the leaving gift of a bottle of Chateau Pontet Canet 2004 that they gave me.

The sadness gave way to gratitude for the awesome experiences and education in wine that Averys has given me. It is something I can never properly repay. Then came excitement which appeared in waves of both dread and happiness. I really have no idea what to expect in the following 18 months and the fear of the unknown is a massively primeval emotion. I can honestly say I have never felt fear in such a way. But having said that, the move out of my flat, in which I have spent the last 6 years, went smoothly, and the plan which I have spent the last 8 months hatching, appears to be coming together (I love it when that happens).

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

This in from Domaine Voillot:

Bonjour, our harvest started on Monday 29th August and ended Friday September 2nd. As always, the fruit was picked under the sun and the quality is good, if in small amounts! Here a few pictures...