White September, Red October at Château Bauduc
For Gavin Quinney and the team at Château Bauduc, 2009 was a tough year. Two hailstorms in May ’09 tore through vines ripping branches and destroying huge quantities of grape stock, forcing Quinney to lease a vineyard to acquire stock for his ’09 white, and unfortunately having to pull the plug on the ’09 Clos des Quinze red.
Thankfully the 2010 harvest at Château Bauduc has gone ahead with relatively few problems, apart from a spot of dryness which has affected the region as a whole. With no sign of hail, and not a single tractor bursting into flames (2009 really was a mad year!), spirits are high at Bauduc.
Here follows a bit of running commentary, reworded, but via Gavin Quinney himself, on what’s been happening over the past few weeks. It’s worth noting that this covers only a small amount of the work being done out there. With two white varieties, and three red, the harvest takes over a month to complete. Depending on grape variety, the age of the vines and the location of the vineyard, each batch will have its own optimum harvesting time, when sugar levels and acidity are just right.
White September (Sauvignon Blanc)
After some light rain early in the week, from Monday 6th to Wednesday 8th September, it was decided to pick Sauvignon Blanc grapes from 5.5 hectares of young vines planted in 2007 and 2008. When picked during sunlight hours flavour is lost, so the grapes were machine harvested during the coolest part of the day, between 5am and 9am.
The vines are very close to the winery, so it is literally minutes between the vineyard and the chilled stainless steel tanks. Most of the grapes arrived in before dawn on Friday 10th and Saturday 11th of September. After pressing the juice is allowed to settle. While the tanks warm up a little, yeast is added before a relatively cool 15˚C fermentation.
“We harvested more Sauvignon Blanc, 5am-9am on Friday & Saturday, than our entire crop of SB ‘09. Drought better than hail.” (Gavin Quinney via Tweetdeck, Mon Sept 13 2010, 08:06:06)
At 6am on Friday 1st October, the harvesting of 2 hectares (around 12,000 vines) of Merlot began. By 10.30am, it was all over. Again, the team didn’t hang about, with the stocks being processed within minutes of being collected. The machine harvester has an in-built ‘de-stemmer’, so when the grapes arrive at the winery a team of eight people man the sorting table, removing any rogue stalks and leaves.
Gavin Quinney would describe some wines ending up like a “lukewarm smoothie” after their grapes have been left in trailers for hours upon hours during the heat of the day. This is common practice for a Co-op, or for those ‘entry-level’ wines. Harvesting in the coolest part of the day and then transferring to the winery as soon as possible is paramount.
“From vine to trailer, to sorting conveyor, to crusher and then to tank, in a matter of minutes.” – Gavin Quinney.
Click here to view our range from Château Bauduc. You’ll have to wait just a little longer for the 2010s!