Friday, 21 October 2011

Chateau de Bel - The Final Entry

So this is it. My last day at Chateau de Bel this vintage. The last two weeks have been tough. To be honest, the écoulages (where we take the juice off the must and then press the remaining berries) have been the hardest work we have done this vintage. Happily though its more suited to me than the harvesting! My new nickname is 'The Human Press'.

It is very important to eat well, and this of course being France, meat is plentiful and brilliant. The entrecote in the following photo cost us 20 euros...

After five or six days of this, the body is completely broken. Shoveling all the grapes out of the tanks is hard and hot work, and also quite dangerous too. If you forget to ventilate the tanks before you enter, you can be completely overcome by the carbon dioxide that is left in there, and that is game over! Luckily however we did not forget to ventilate and everything was fine.

Its strange now. We have gotten so used to our routines and the work we are doing, that there is absolutely no stress any more. Everyone seems to know what they are doing from wake up to finish. It was odd when we got to the end of last tank, and we were completely finished, that it just seemed like a bit of an anticlimax. I was expecting some special light to appear out of the ground or even a party popper to explode and baloons to fall from the cieling, but no, nothing. It was a reminder that although the last tank was empty, the work is by no means over. Olivier and Veronique will continue to work for the next 9 months and for the rest of their time here at Chateau de Bel. The work of a winemaker is never finished!

I have got everything from this vintage that I wanted to. A basic lesson on how to make wine and the processes that are involved therein. What I have also discovered is that there are a few rules to working on a winery that you will never find in any winemaking book.

Bryns alternative rules of winemaking:

1) You can do almost anything with a piece of iron wire and a block of wood.
2) Dont drive a screwdriver through your hand. It hurts
3) The winemaker is always right.... even when he/she is wrong...
4) Wherever you go, make sure you take a thermos of coffee.
5) Hosepipes are evil and must be punished.

The most important there is number 1. It was incredible really, a piece of iron wire and a block of wood coped with almost any problem we encountered this vintage and they are certainly two things I will always keep close at hand in my vintages to come!

So there we have it. The 2011 vintage is over and I am very sad to be leaving. Although this morning, the Dordogne gave me a beautiful parting gift...

It was a beautiful reminder of the fact that I have been working in one of the most stunning environments in europe, and I can only feel grateful to Olivier, Giovanni, Anne, Veronique, Jean Louis, Michel and all the other people who have made the last 10 weeks one of the most fantastic experiences of my life so far. I am taking a boot load of wine home with me in the car, and hopefully everytime I take a sip, I will be reminded of the wonderful time I had here. Next stop South Africa in January!


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Tom Cannavan's wine of the week!

Wine-pages Tom Cannavan has selected Avery's Project Winemaker Mourvèdre 2010 as his wine of the week!

Click here to secure your case. Read the full review here.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Join us for the Averys Celebration of Wine Tasting Event - Saturday 29th October

Taste your way round more than one hundred wines from the Averys range and meet the winemakers behind them, at an informal and relaxed tasting at Bristol Grammar School.

Tickets are only £20 per person which will be refunded against any case of 12 bottles or more purchased on the day, making this the ideal opportunity to select your wines for Christmas.

To allow you to taste in comfort, numbers are strictly limited.

Date: Saturday 29th October
Time: 2.00 - 6.00pm
Tickets: £20 - only available in advance.
(Your £20 ticket price is refundable against any purchase of 12 bottles or more placed on the day) 
Venue: Bristol Grammar School

To reserve your ticket please call 0843 224 1224 or order online now at 

This is an annual event in the Averys diary and is always great fun. Pop the date in your diary today and reserve your tickets now. We look forward to meeting you there!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Warm greetings from Bordeaux....

Hi folks and a warm greeting from Bordeaux. I use the word warm because it has been mightily hot here recently, although I read it's been the same back in Blighty so I cant gloat too much.

We harvested the final parcel from the three properties that Olivier has on Saturday the 1st of October and I thought I would give a quick overview of the vintage as a whole and what we have experienced here. Starting with Chateau de Bel itself:

Chateau de Bel - Firstly, excellent quality, but the spread has been rather strange. Different parcels, despite being only a few metres apart in some cases, have ripened at massively different speeds. Both the merlot and Cabernet Franc have excellent qualities and it shaping up to be a very good vintage here. There has been some isolated botrytis but nothing to worry about.

St Emilion (he makes a number of different wines here) - It is dificult to call this one as were not quite through tasting and evaluating properly, but from what we have done, its going to be a matter of the blend. Tim Atkins has called this one 'A Master Winemakers Vintage' and he is not wrong in that. Much like Chateau de Bel, certain parcels ripened very early and others very late, so its not going to be simple to make brilliant wines like 2005, 2009 and 2010. All the ingredients seem to be here though. Our Cab Franc in Taransaud oak has a simply amazing fruit and colour, the Sansaud oak Cab Franc is less overtly fruity but is deeper and richer. The first Merlot we harvested there is awesome but just a little unbalanced. So this one is going to be down to Olivier's skill as a blender, but having seen him in action, I have no doubt that it will be a brilliant wine.

Pomerol - Clos Du Canton des Ormeaux - We were a little bit worried about this one at the start. There was a fair amount of botrytis and burning of grapes on both parcels, and after maceration and a few days of fermentation, the juice was seeming a little flat and utterly uninteresting, but like a phoenix from the ashes, the fruit appeared. It is not a vintage of the century, but there is a wonderful finesse about the 2011 Clos du Canton that we are very, very happy with indeed.