Firstly our apologies for the lack of a blog last week. Due to other issues which required our immediate attention in Europe, last weekend’s plans had to be dramatically altered. The only side benefit from this unfortunate change was that I managed a 2 day side trip to Cardan, Bordeaux and hence this on site report.
There is no such thing as a perfect year for a vigneron(ne) and the challenges in 2012 look very different from last year. As we wrote a few weeks back, the weather has been very variable. Frequent rain periods since April have at least restored some moisture to the soil, which has encouraged significant plant growth. The vineyards are very green this year! However moisture also encourages disease, notably mildew and Pascale and the team have been busy applying small regular treatments. Their work and attention to detail has been impressive. As we toured the vineyard and inspected the underside of hundreds of leaves, we only found one small young leaf showing a small amount of disease. Very impressive results – very healthy vines.
Further detailed review shows a couple of other interesting things. Firstly a small but variable amount of “coulure”, a condition whereby individual grape flower heads within a bunch fail to ripen and form fruit. Different grape varieties and clones within each variety exhibit different amounts of coulure under different climactic conditions. The #Cloud9 Cabernet Franc parcel in Hourcat Sud is generally looking good whilst the old Merlots in Hourcat Centre, despite their ongoing successful recovery, are a little less successful so far. Secondly one can see from the different sizes of the grapes on each bunch that the fruit will be fairly heterogenic at harvest time. This will require a fair amount of work later in the season to cut out grape bunches that will not ripen sufficiently and ensure that the fruit selected for wine making is evenly ripe.
In Hourcat Centre, the future home of our Merlot wine, as reported above, the 55yo vines continue to regain strength under Pascale’s supervision. The old Semillons in the northern section of the block have been dug up and the land is being cleared. We will turn the soil later in the year but not replant until 2013. This will provide sufficient time for old roots and adverse soil microbes to die back.
The redesign and new fermentation vats for the winery were also agreed. We will bring you more news on these developments as we approach harvest time.
As always, Mother Nature is in control! But the attention to detail so far has put us in the best possible position to achieve a great result in 2012. Overall, the health of the vineyard is exceptional; our vision is right on track. We can’t wait to see the harvest in September!