Most Saturday mornings in our village are quiet. They start quiet, they continue quiet and they finish in pretty much the same way. But jet lag wasn’t going to let me sleep in much either. It’s harvest day 2017. I don’t need an alarm.
It’s 6am and I am up, shaved and ready. In my tiredness the previous evening I had rationalised away all the things that needed to be done as non-urgent and crashed instead. They are now very pressing!
Phone and camera batteries to confirm fully charged; catering list and food ready; coffee cups and cafetiere good to plunge; flags out; tables and chairs on the terrace for lunch; lights on plus shutters open and most important of all – be at the boulangerie by 8am to pick up the harvesters’ croissant / choclatine breakfast plus dessert tartes and the obligatory baguette bread.
All good! I am on track. The David “to do” list is up to date. It’s 7:40am and time to head out to the Cadillac boulangerie. It’s foggy and dark all around. Eerie – no sign of life! Surely I didn’t get the date wrong – after all it’s our harvest day? And I travelled half way round the world to be here!
The mission continues… the bread, croissants, choclatines and tartes are ready to schedule and I am heading back to Paradise Rescued. The fog has thickened; surely the 27°C weather forecast is just another hoax and drama in the story that is Bordeaux vintage 2017. As I approach the property that I left just 40 minutes ago, our vigneronne Pascale is on site and has started to open up the winery and put equipment in place. Four vehicles have already and a harvest team is assembling. As I enter through the gates to Paradise Rescued, in behind me rolls the tractor and trailer that makes up the key logistics element of harvest day.
As I unload the car, sharing traditional welcoming French handshakes and bises (kisses) with our team and friends, I can already smell the coffee is ready. The croissants and choclatines are cut and served. The team is nearly all here now and we are about to launch Harvest 2017 for the Paradise Rescued B1ockOne Cabernet Franc.
This is the harvest that so nearly wasn’t. Less than a few kilometres north, south, east or west from here, there has been devastation on a grand scale. The late April frosts and August hail have decimated our friends and colleagues’ entire vintage into the history books as the worst Bordeaux vintage in the last 50+ years.
The team is up and running – fifteen minutes ahead of schedule. They don’t need to be directed to start. It just happens. The first goal is to cut the first ever fruit from the new tiny Cabernet Franc block to the north of the winery. These baby vines have survived the unthinkable this year. Their memories will be resilient. Some of their fruit shows one of the highest sugar readings of any Cabernet Franc I have ever tested in Paradise Rescued – 15°! Not that that is our goal but we are off to a great start.
As the team moves happily back down the vineyard past the winery to start harvesting the Hourcat Sud Cabernet Franc vineyard – the home of our B1ockOne wine – the sun breaks through. One can sense the way this is going to play out. Just like the rest of the growing season that has preceded today. It tricks one into thinking that it will be bad for us but then it all comes good.
The first trailer load arrives at the winery. You have to look closely but everything leaves traces in a vineyard. Detail is clearly visible when you know what you are looking for. You can immediately see the work that the picking team has done to preselect the best fruit discarding anything that is not ripe or tending to rotten. As the cagettes full of organic grapes are unloaded and tipped into the destemmer machine, odd remaining leaves are removed. Each load is inspected by our winemaker as it leaves the crusher, removing unripe green grapes and small pieces of stalk that have been not rejected by the machines. Each container of crushed grapes is further inspected as it is charged into the vat.
The attention to detail is dramatic. I am impressed, overwhelmed by what a small team of people can achieve, and are willing to achieve, when they have a clear mission. It happens naturally, almost effortlessly.
This is a remarkable amazing finale to a very different and extremely challenging growing season. Two vats are filled to maximum capacity. Our team is keen for the “boss” to taste the first juice. Smiles – I know why! It’s pretty damn special. I sense that there will be a lot lot more to tell about this story that is Paradise Rescued Bordeaux vintage 2017. But first let’s make the wine!
As the waves of challenge came in, a dedicated team responded. The 2017 Paradise Rescued Cabernet Franc organic harvest is in.
Paradise Rescued is the 2016 International Business Award Silver Stevie winner for Small Budget Marketing Campaign.