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Harvest 2017 in Bourgueil

Over the next couple of weeks I will be spending a lot of time catching up with vignerons in the Loire Valley, learning about the 2017 season and harvest, and tasting the results. So it seems like a good time to look back to a couple of harvest visits I made in September last year. Today Bourgueil, and a trip to Château de Minière.

Turning up late morning I found the pickers in the vines close to the front of the château. It was a surprisingly small team, just a handful of people (perhaps the others had gone to prepare lunch!). The picking for Bourgeuil wasn’t due to begin until the following week; this was an early pick for the sparkling wines.

Château de Minière

This was one of the final hods of Cabernet Franc to be emptied into the trailer. It was grey and overcast; I might have taken a better picture if I had played around with the shutter speed a little more, but you only have one chance!

Château de Minière

Once full the trailer is taken to the cellars, where it is carefully positioned (this took several attempts) so that the extending rear tray is directly over the pneumatic press. Look at all that Cabernet Franc! Heaven!

Château de Minière

The trailer is elevated, and it has a vibrating mechanism, so that once positioned the fruit is simply ‘vibrated’ out into the press. As this is for sparkling, there is no destemming required.

Château de Minière

In it goes….

Château de Minière

The process is supervised from atop the press, to ensure no stray bunches miss the opening, and presumably to remove any stray leaves, snails, frogs, fish or disorientated wildebeest, although most of the sorting has been done in the vineyard. Supervision can be done with the ‘kneeling’ technique….

Château de Minière

….or the straddling technique. The only work required is a little packing down into the press to ensure it all fits in.

Château de Minière

Once done, the juice is collected and pumped to stainless steel vats, for the first fermentation. Having had a taste from a vat which had been filled a week or so earlier, the fermentation mostly completed, I was struck by the pure and vibrant colour, and the classically floral Cabernet Franc character.

Next time, a few harvest pictures from Vouvray…..

Winedoctor: Service Notice

Please note that I am currently (as of 3pm on January 11th 2018) in the process of moving Winedoctor to a new server.

This process should not result in any downtime and the new server, with increased processing power and more memory, should provide Winedoctor webpages more quickly and more reliably.

The website may take 24-28 hours to ‘bed in’ on the new server, and during this time you may be looking at pages from either the old or new server. If you see any glitches or if the website behaves in an unexpected manner during this time this is probably the reason, so please bear with me.

Thanks

Chris Kissack

(You are currently looking at Winedoctor on the new server)

Three from Domaine Serisier

Richard Serisier can trace his winemaking heritage back to 1839 when an ancestor, Jean Emile Serisier, left Bordeaux for Australia. No sooner had he arrived than he planted his first vines, in New South Wales. Fast forward a few years (to 2005 in fact, so quite a few) and a few generations and Richard Serisier became the new proprietor of Château Cadillac which, despite the name at first suggesting it might lie elsewhere, is located on the right bank, not too far from the vineyards of Fronsac and Pomerol.

Rather than chasing along on the coat tails of grander appellations Richard has chosen what I might call “the Reignac route”, working within the Bordeaux Supérieur appellation but in no way being confined by its rather generic image or reputation, akin to the work at Château de Reignac, or perhaps Château Grand Village or Roc de Cambes, where the Guinaudeau family and François Mitjavile also push the boundaries of their low-key appellations. From his vineyard he produces two cuvées, the small-production Château Montrevel and the larger-production Le Bout du Monde.

Le Bout du Monde & Château Montrevel

These are serious wines, with a lot more tannin and oak than I was expecting. They are not bright and breezy fruit-dominated wines for easy, early drinking. Without a doubt they need to be left in the cellar for five, maybe ten years. The 2014s are superior to the 2012, although the latter is clearly a good effort, even more so now I have realised this was Richard’s first ever vintage. My thanks go to Richard for the opportunity to taste these wines.

Château Montrevel (Bordeaux Supérieur) 2014: Made from the fruit of 35-year old Merlot vines, a very limited production of just 2,000 bottles. Vinified in small cement cuves, then malolactic and an élevage lasting 23 months in 100% new oak barrels. A bright crimson rim around a black tulip core to this wine, and enticing aromatics of rose petals, smoked blackcurrant, and black raspberry, and although there are some oak spices here it is nicely blanketed by the fruit. This also seems to be the case on the palate, which maintains a supple and succulent style, with intense cigar smoke, ripe blackcurrant and a herby edge of bay leaf. Very focused, with succulent acid and a grained tannic structure supporting admirable substance through the middle and finish, peppery and firm. This should go some distance in the cellar. 16/20 • 92/100 (January 2018)

Le Bout du Monde (Bordeaux Supérieur) 2014: This cuvée comes from younger vines, aged 25 years, 100% Merlot, with a production of 13,800 bottles. Vinified in small cement cuves, then 15 months in oak, using 60% new barrels. A rich and bright hue in the glass. It has a nose of sweet dark fruit, and despite using only 60% new oak the fruit is currently straitjacketed by a solid frame of sweet oak, coming through as toasted coconut and minty chocolate, and right now the fruit doesn’t shine through. The palate is exactly as the nose suggests, dark fruit framed by rich oak flavours, with a solid backbone of firm tannins which feel oak-influenced, swirled with intensely sweet fruit, dried blackcurrants, olives, black liquorice and currants. It is medium-bodied, with a long warming finish. There is some good raw material here, and lots of effort, but it needs to be tucked away in the cellar for five to ten years, like any grand vin, to absorb that oak and to soften those tannins. 15.5/20 • 91/100 (January 2018)

Le Bout du Monde (Bordeaux Supérieur) 2012: From 25-year old vines, 100% Merlot, with a production of 12,000 bottles. Vinified in small cement cuves, then 14 months in oak in this vintage, using 50% new and 50% second-fill barrels. A rich and bright hue in the glass. Like the 2014 though, while this is rich in berry fruit, showing a slightly roasted character, currently contained within a prominent frame of toffee, caramel and chocolate-laced oak. The palate carries on in the same vein, the fruit here more defined and seemingly more true to my perception of the vintage, showing a cooler red cherry character, albeit with a grilled edge, sitting in a bed of vanillin oak. A very nicely structured wine, with some finely defined tannins, and delightfully fresh acidity, all fashioned into a charming finish with a confident length. An attractive and honest style that shows some nice vintage typicity. 14.5/20 • 89/100 (January 2018)

Disclosure: These were samples received for tasting.

Winedoctor Holiday Offer

It’s already the second week of January and while my mind is turning to organising my forthcoming trips out to the Salon des Vins de Loire in Angers and Vinovision in Paris, I know many will be looking further into the future and asking the question; just where to go on summer holiday this year?

I had two fabulous busman’s holidays in 2017, both in my new house in the Loire Valley. We had two weeks of glorious weather in June (“c’est comme août”, exclaimed my only neighbour each time we met) and two further weeks of thankfully less balmy but lovely weather during the harvest, in September. I made some great visits to see some picking with Matthieu Baudry and to Benoit Amirault, and enjoyed calling in on Jérôme Billard and Château de Minière, among others. In the evening I would chill in the hot tub (it’s a hard life, but somebody has to do it) and watch the bats leave their daytime shelter for a night of hunting. Glass in hand, of course.

Hot tub

With subscriber numbers up again during 2017 things are looking good for 2018, and so to celebrate I have decided to offer an exclusive 15% discount to Winedoctor subscribers looking to holiday in the Loire Valley and maybe visit some of the vignerons I write about (that’s optional of course; alternatively, spend your days peering at châteaux, checking out the local restaurants or rowing up and down the Vienne, whatever takes your fancy). The house has three double bedrooms by the way, and the addition of a sofa bed in the third bedroom means the house will sleep eight in total. Anybody with a 12-month subscription to Winedoctor can have a 15% discount on the rental price for the 2018 summer season, and I will keep this offer open until Valentine’s Day, February 14th 2018.

To see more of my gite, including a gallery of images, suggested travel options, prices (don’t forget to subtract 15%) and availability check out Les Lavandes. Please email me if you need any other info, or indeed if you wish to discuss making a booking.