At the start of last week it was the annual date to go on line to the French customs web site and record the 2013 production volume. At the end of the process when you go to save and effectively lodge the file to the authorities, the site does a “sanity check”, which is code for saying that it thinks that the figures we entered were too low!! If you click “Oui” a couple more times, it finally believes you and allows the file to save!!
Nevertheless it does make me laugh. The maximum permitted volume for a Bordeaux Superiéur Appellation Contrôlée is 50 hectolitres per hectare, ie 5,000 litres per hectare. Typically over the last two challenging viticulture seasons, our yield has been significantly lower than that upper limit – this year for the Cabernet Franc we will somewhere around the 20 figure. Quite kindly and professionally, the Customs web site wants to confirm that I haven’t made a typo error. But at the same time, in a world of overproduction at the lower quality end of the wine market I still see all around us a huge drive and every encouragement to make lots of wine no matter what the quality! This year, we could have probably produced twice the yield, not bothered to cut off all the very unripe fruit, eliminated the need to hand select the best bunches at harvest time and cancelled the final selection or “triage” table. But at the same time we wouldn’t be able to sell it to our premium customers nor export it around the world!
Lately, the Bordeaux wine media has been bemoaning the low yields of the recent successive 2012 and 2013 vintages. Personally, I am just very grateful that we got a harvest at all!! If you survived the onslaught of mildew and natural fruit deselection process of 2012 and avoided the hail plus rampant grey rot in 2013, then a small concentrated yield of hand selected fruity wine is a wonderful and much treasured bonus.
We believe – and will always continue to believe – that Quality always comes before quantity. That’s way in our Tactical plan, we write Quality with a big Q and quantity with a q! And Quality and Excellence are at the top of our values list. So much better to produce one good case instead of a dozen poor ones.
Quality not quantity…always!