Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Harvest 2015

Kitted out with the brand new Domaine Jones T-shirts, we started picking for our 6th harvest on the 31st August with the Grenache Gris grapes from our vineyard in Maury. This was pretty much the same time as last year but this year we had considerably more grapes.

Yield is one thing that is so unpredictable - especially with the Grenache variety - but good fruit set in the Spring gave us a decent yield of around 25 hl per hectare.  This is generous for our vineyards but still ridiculously low compared to other regions.  

Ella picking Grenache Blanc amongst the Carignan

The weather influenced by the sea breeze - the Marin - kept temperatures down and prevented over-ripeness in the first week of the harvest. Then the wind turned to a north wind - the Tramontane - and the harvest continued under excellent climatic conditions. 

My vineyards are all old vines with a rather eclectic mix of varieties.  In most vineyards we have to go in twice - once to pick the white and then once to pick the reds. 

All in all, we brought in five different white varieties:  Grenache Gris; Grenache Blanc; Macabeu; Muscat and Carignan Gris, and four different reds:  Carignan; Grenache; Syrah and Lledenor Pelut (Hairy Grenache). All were picked separately into their individual vat or barrel. Variety is the spice of life! 

Picking the Lledoner Pelut (hairy grenache)

In a ‘normal’ harvest, the Syrah is the first to ripen followed shortly by the Grenache and then there is usually a good 10 days before the Carignan grapes are ripe.  This year, because there was such a small harvest of Carignan, they ripened at the same time as the Grenache.  

This was great except it does mean that you have to be rather organised!  It was all hands on deck and we had hands from most corners of Europe!
Bjorn swinging a vat!

I don't think the train shed has seen so much activity in a long time.  And the grapes kept on coming! 

James and Ed working majestically 

It also meant a lot of washing to keep up with the pickers.

Ella enjoying another day of crate washing

Steve getting the wet weather gear on to clean out the press
But on the 26th September the last bunch of grapes did the walk of glory up the conveyor belt and into the vat.

If I had to pick out one grape variety from the 2015 harvest I would say it is hats off to Carignan! Carignan has a bit of a bad reputation as a high yielding variety that produces the bulk of many southern French blends but our hundred year old vines have very low yields and this year they were even smaller.  The quality of the wine is absolutely amazing with great balance and concentration that was noticeable as soon as we pressed the grapes!

This is definitely the quickest harvest in the six years we've been going at Domaine Jones but also the slowest to ferment.  In fact unbelievably slow to ferment!  I still have some barrels that haven't finished - the mild weather has helped to keep them going but now with a cold spell forecast I think they may well hibernate until the spring. That sounds like a very good idea!