Botrytis is now fully developed across Sauternes and everyone is picking as fast as they can – dipping in and out of the rows every day to gather the rotted grapes as and when they are ready. It has taken almost three weeks for the Botrytis to slowly develop – very different to 2009 where everything happened very quickly. This will mean a different style of wine for 2010 with perhaps more complexity as a result of the extended picking period but maybe less intensity. It is too early to say, of course, but we do know for certain that it is looking like another excellent harvest.
I’m still in the States at the moment but we thought you would like to see what is going on in the vineyards at this stage. We captured the video below of a picker at Chateau Climens during the 2009 harvest and it perfectly illustrates the dedication and precision needed to make great Sauternes. Each row of vines will be visited many times during the 2010 harvest to select only the grapes that have reached the perfect ‘roti’ phase where flavours are at their most concentrated.
This attention to detail is one reason why good Sauternes is expensive – what you pay for when you buy a bottle of Sauternes is largely the skill and expertise of the winemakers. Bill Blatch