The lead-up to the 2011 vintage was complicated: the hottest first fortnight in April in decades pushed the vines into early flowering, and for some time it looked as if the harvest might start in August. But an unusually cool and wet summer reined in the vines, bringing us back to the parametres of a ‘normal’ start date.
The grapes were in pristine, impeccable condition right up to ten before the harvest, when 80 mm of rain fell. Slightly humid conditions during the following days encouraged small outbreaks of botrytis here and there. A dry north-westerly wind and a spell of beautiful weather coinciding with the start of our harvest saved the day, and first reports from the sorting table are very positive.
The first vines to be harvested today are the mauzac for the Blanquette de Limoux.
Thursday 29 September
It was the most compact, concentrated harvest of our history.
A sudden downpour of rain on September 18 threw a spanner in the works, and with slightly humid conditions after, precipitated an increase in botrytis. Weather ranging from hot to exceedingly pushed up the sugar levels, and encouraged us to bring in the grapes without delay.
Careful sorting in the field and at the sorting table, coupled with quick reactions to weather conditions were rewarded by a harvest which looks extremely promising. The mauzac for Occitania was outstanding; the chardonnay Odyssée promises to revert to the rich opulence of 2004, and Dédicace the chenin we harvested today, was blessed with excellent acidity balanced against a bit of noble rot.
As the harvest ended, some of the grapejuice was already fermenting in the barrels. Please click on the picture for the video.
For a day-by-day account of the harvest, please look at the September 2011 Diary of a Vineyard by clicking here: http://www.rives-blanques.com/rives_notes/?p=862