Friday, August 21, 2015

A short back and sides for the hairy Grenache

Our aim with our small vineyard of Lledoner Pelut (hairy grenache) is to see if we can make a top class wine from a grape variety that is looked down upon by the locals but which in our opinion can produce a great wine in the right conditions.

To get the best out of Lledoner Pelut we wanted to reduce the yields. One of the main reasons for doing this is that if there are too many grapes on a vine they will not get the same amount of sunshine so they will not ripen evenly.  This will make the wine paler in colour and weaker in structure.  This is a particular problem for the Lledoner Pelut which naturally produces paler coloured red wines. 

Lledenor Pelut is also susceptible to grey rot  - another reason to keep the bunches thinned out if you want to harvest healthy grapes.

So we basically gave each vine a short back and sides!  We kept the buds on the outside of the gobelet shaped vine rather than having too many in the centre.  This means that as the bunches develop they are not squashed together but air is able to circulate around every bunch.  As the buds and hence the bunches were on the outside of the vine this makes them more vulnerable to the strong tramontagne wind which can snap branches as it howls though the vineyards.

In the late spring it was another visit from the vineyard hairdresser and we went back into the vineyard and thinned out the shoots.  This is called 'ebourgeonnage' from the french word 'bourgeon' meaning bud and probably had the most impact on the yield.

This year we didn’t add any fertiliser to the soil which again is going to help to reduce the yield.  The soils are poor ‘trias’ soils and we need to get the balance back after years of over fertilising.

Wild Boar can also be a pretty efficient yield controller as they can reduce a good healthy crop down to zero in a matter of hours !  Electric fences and apparently (but yet to be tested)  human hair help to keep wild boar out of the vineyards.  Fortunately this is not a major problem for the Lledoner Pelut as wild boar don’t particularly like it, preferring the sweeter Muscat and early ripening Syrah grapes.

Ripening Lledoner Pelut grapes in my vineyard in Tuchan