Harvest Finally Gets Underway

Last week, after an unusually long wait, the Midi harvest kicked in at full velocity. Due to the cold spring, the picking has been up to 20 days later than normal. However, after a good couple of weeks of sunshine and lots of drying wind we were finally happy to bring in the first Chardonnay.

And the first vineyards harvested were in Beziers; lower in sugar than previous years and in turn will be lower in alcohol (not a bad thing) but still flavour packed. The Vermentino in Beziers followed days later; same scenario and more floral and perfumed than last year. Pinot Noir was next and the odd ball of the Midi this vintage being an earlier harvest than normal! Lots of colour and lovely Pinot varietal character. The Sauvignon Blanc harvest started back in Bordeaux two days ago closely followed by the Sauvignon Gris.

It’s by no means an easy vintage but that’s exactly what Le Chai winery facilities and the winemaking team are for. And I can safely say some very good wines are going to come out of Le Chai in 2013.

Le Chai has been busy receiving the juice from the Midi, tankers pulling up alongside the quay ready for the fragile cargo to be emptied into Le Chai.

The cellar is already buzzing with ferments and Scott and Nadja are busy amongst the barrels all day everyday. I will be soon but I am still waiting for the La Voute Chardonnay vineyards in Limoux to ripen and the Sémillon in Bordeaux.

2. Barrels

That means I am doing my endless vintage yo-yo trips back and forth from the Midi to Bordeaux. I have to ensure the vineyards are picked at optimum ripeness and that the tankers are carefully filled for the trip up to Castillon. My car has become a typical mobile winemaker’s office with boots, clothes, laptops, office folders, grape-testing equipment, food larder, mini restaurant and much more!

The Midi reds will start probably the beginning of next week but for the Bordeaux reds there are a few more weeks to go. However, with 30 degrees over the last 10 days and a good forecast, those growers who escaped the hail may just make some lovely wines.

It will be early starts and late nights for the winemakers for the next couple of months but you get to see some great sunrises!

4. Sunrise

About Mark Hoddy

Mark Hoddy, Winemaker and Buyer for Alsace at Laithwaite's.