As proof that the harvest is almost over in Sauternes here are some more photos from Michel Garat and Alain Pivonet at Chateau Bastor-Lamontagne showing the end of our much followed single bunch of grapes. This is a fantastic series of photos and illustrates perfectly how much patience is required to make good Sauternes. Bill Blatch
Archive for October, 2010
We are on the brink of another great vintage for the 2010 Sauternes but, even now in late October, there are things that can still go wrong. Having spoken to several growers across Sauternes and Barsac in the last few days the situation is positive, yet complex.
The vintage has been characterised by the slow development of Botrytis over an extended period of time – this is still the case (see photos from Chateau Bastor-Lamontagne below). Growers have been dipping in and out of the vineyards ever since the end of September and most estates have labouriously picked around 50% of the crop. The rest of the grapes are all infected with Botrytis but, because of the low night-time temperatures, only to the ‘pourri plein’ stage. Those with grapes still on the vine are hoping for little more warmth to help development of the noble rot to the coveted ‘roti’ or roasted stage. At this late stage it is touch and go for these grapes. Some estates have fared very well indeed and their harvest is almost complete.
All the grapes harvested so far are of excellent quality with great sugar readings, lovely aromatics and acidities – not unlike 2007. I am looking forward to tasting the musts and filming this for you on my return from the States next week. Bill Blatch
PS Here’s a link to the latest news from Chateau Suduiraut on their harvest: Chateau Suduiraut 2010 Harvest News
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
I’m still in Florida but the good news from Sauternes is that the harvest is now well under way in good conditions. Aline Baly at Chateau Coutet just sent us some photos and this bang-up-to-date report on the harvest progression:
Friday morning was our first tries in the parcels of Chateau Coutet. The morning was very fruitful, with ripen grapes beautifully concentrated (in terms of sugar but also aromas) by the botrytis cinerea. The afternoon rounds clearly communicated to us that we were in need of some humidity — the grapes are gold but still waiting for the fungus to take hold. The weekend weather did not deliver the forecasted rain — we had to wait until Monday. Tuesday morning I was greeted by the sun, a perfect counterpart to the previous day’s humidity. Today is Wednesday and we are again lucky to enjoy the sun and warmer temperatures. The team of 70 pickers are out combing the parcels for the precious Noble Rot.
Chateau Coutet is situated right in the middle of Barsac, producing stunning 1er Grand Cru Classe Sauternes.