Grapevine Archive for Midi
Spring has sprung in the Roussillon, prompting Katie Jones of Domaine Jones to share her enthusiasm for the season of renewal. Hers is a pocket handkerchief estate making three lovely wines. Her white is outstanding and is made from the Grenache gris, locally prized for its ageing capacity but unknown anywhere else.
‘The more I work with this grape variety the more I like it. It is a little frightening though as the grapes are pink and the juice when the grapes are pressed is bright orange, so I am always amazed by the lovely pale colour of the final wine. Grenache Gris makes some of the best white wines from this area of southern France and is often blended with other local grapes. Mine is not blended but exclusively Grenache Gris.
So why are my Grenache Gris special? They are 80 years old, they are planted on black slate soils and therefore they produce a very limited amount of grapes. The low productivity of my vines gives great depth and concentration to the final wine. It also means that the root structure is so well established that they don?t suffer from summer drought.
It still makes me smile that I almost didn?t buy this vineyard. Monsieur Bourrell who sold it to me forgot to mention that half of the vineyard was planted with Grenache Gris and not the red Grenache noir that I was expecting. As he took the grapes to the local cooperative, it didn?t matter to him that half the grapes were white. When I told him that I wasn?t sure that I still wanted to buy his vineyard he told me it wasn?t a problem – I could just mix it all together and make the traditional sweet dessert wine from Maury!
Not on your nelly, Monsieur Bourrell.’
Here at The Society we still need to wait for the 2011 but a small quantity of the 2010 (ref FC22301) is still available to order. To do so, please call Member Services on 01438 740 222.
Just back from an exhilarating week in the Midi, taking in most points between Faugères and Bandol, finishing up in the northern Rhône and a first look at the 2010s.
The first thing to say was that it was very hot and that everywhere the vines are at least two weeks ahead of schedule. The vines are in full flower and the predictions are for a good size crop. Last year, the 2010 harvest, was very late, often picking in October. These early indications suggest that 2011 will be early, maybe late August for the northern Rhône, maybe earlier for parts of the Languedoc.
Another 2003 type vintage? Not in the south, or at least not yet as there is plenty of water and no signs of water stress. The vines look incredibly healthy. The photo by the way is syrah from the Méal slope on Hermitage.
All fruit crops are early with apricots already available and as good as I’ve tasted.
So there is still a long wait for 2011. The 2010s meanwhile, mostly still in cask, look very promising, dark, sleek and refined. More on that later.
Rhône, Southern France & French Country buyer
August is supposed to be a quiet month in France as businesses close for the month.
Not so down in the Midi when growers begin to prepare for the vintage. Many will start this week and at Domaine de l’Arrjolle the starting gun was fired on Saturday 21st August when the first sauvignons were picked.
So far so good. The grapes are in perfect condition and, though the summer has been very dry with no rain for the last two months, there had been enough rainfall during the winter and spring so the vines have not had to suffer for lack of water. The size of the crop is small which should be good news for quality.
Harvesting here is a long and protracted affair as the last cabernets will probably have to wait till well into October. Fingers crossed then.