Dear All

It is now Monday evening and another day’s harvesting is slowly drawing to an end but once again the day has been gloriously sunny and hot with unbroken sunshine.

Today we hand-picked the remaining block of our old sauvignon blanc on the limestone plateau close to the Chateau and we have about 35 hl of pressed juice in tank as I write.

Tomorrow we plan to start early (about 7am) and will pick all of the remaining whites that are situated ‘off the plateau’ and that includes both some more Semillon and some younger Sauvignon blanc, about 2.5 hectares in total.

The good news is that the yields for the whites are quite reasonable and for the Rose, very surprisingly, we are close to 55 HL per hectare, which is the maximum permitted yield.

This will go down a little when we take the remaining Merlot from the limestone plateau and down even more for the Cabernet Sauvignon/Franc, but it is all very welcome and somewhat better than expected.

Since my last note, it’s also really been hectic here and we have been flat out with four full days, harvesting just the Merlot for Rose. We started last Thursday in the early morning and continued right through Friday and on into the weekend but we have picked some 175 tons of fruit and now have 140 HL of juice in tank with almost 50% already undergoing fermentation. It’s looking good.

However, every night has been a very late finish, at around midnight, followed by an early start the next day, but with the weather really not changing and staying consistently hot, we remain in a bit of a hurry to get all of the Merlot in for the Rose.

We did unfortunately have a ‘little hiccup’ last Wednesday when our machine harvester broke down first thing and we were unable to get it fixed because the spare replacement parts were unavailable locally. Edouard finally managed to find what we needed in the late afternoon although it was a 100 k round trip to pick them up and we got the machine fixed at about 10.30pm that night.

As far as it goes, it wasn’t a disaster though as we had some quite heavy showers on Wednesday late morning and mid afternoon, maybe not enough to do much for the old vines but it was good for the younger vines and the new plantings

Thursday and Friday were really quite uneventful after that episode, but then on Saturday night, with the home stretch was in sight, one of the brand new hoses (we use for pumping the crushed berries into the press) exploded covering everyone within 30 yards with juice and skins and making an almighty mess.

It took almost one hour to cut, prepare and fit the new hose and then another hour to clean up, so it was well after 1am by the time we turned out the lights up at the winery, but thanks to some rather delicious beef, rocket and tomato sandwiches and home-made lemon cake that Nicolette sent up, the team just kept going.

On Sunday evening Nicolette, Lolly, Gareth and I snuck off early at about 7pm to drive over to Vayres (about 15 minutes away) to watch 50 or so surfers ride the Mascarat on the Dordogne River. The Mascarat occurs frequently, producing a wave about 90/100 cm’s high. It’s quite amazing and draws a huge crowd.

Also Sunday was also the first day of ‘The Chasse’ in France

So that’s it for now, suffice to say that the juice, so far, for the Rose is looking very nice indeed with enticing fine summer red berry fruit aromas and delicate fruit flavours and it is of course, our hallmark vivacious pink in colour.

We still have some more Merlot to go for the Rose, probably on Wednesday and Friday, but we are also now expecting to pick the young Merlot vines at Clos Cantenac in St Emilion on Thursday, so another busy few days ahead.

I’ll attach a few photos next time when I have figured out how to do it without overloading your inbox !

In the meantime, drink well. All very best

Martin

– there is always a ‘silver lining’!– the start of the hunting season and even though we no longer allow hunting on the estate, I had to spend several hours that morning politely asking grown men, dressed in battle fatigues, with shotguns and enough cartridges to fight a mini war to go elsewhere. All was fine until two younger and slightly inebriated ‘hunters’ decided to contest the issue. I tactically withdrew and telephoned Edouard for back-up, but by the time he arrived they ‘hopped it’ anyway.

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