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.

1 comment:

  1. What an enviable job you have and an incredibly busy month too. A wine wine show is probably the only judging gig I'd welcome and for obvious reasons that is.