Friday, October 13, 2017

Harvest 2017 in the vat

As we put the lid on the vat of the ninth Jones harvest I am happy to say that is has probably been one of the finest quality, one of the earliest and definitely one of the hairiest harvests since we started in 2009.
You may remember my small plot of hairy grenache (Lledoner Pelut) which I am rather fond of – not just because of the name which sounds vaguely welsh but because I have always thought that this vineyard has great potential to make a fine wine.  And great potential to use a couple of wigs!

There isn’t much going for the hairy grenache (so called because it has fine hairs on the back of the leaves).  It is despised locally for the inferior quality of the wine, its lower alcohol and has even been downgraded to ‘generic’ status at the local cooperative.  I’m always up for a challenge  and in the 2017 vintage I set out to show that Lledoner Pelut  can make a seriously fine wine.

I only have a small vineyard of 60 year old Lledoner with about 2000 vines.  My first attempt back in the 2015 harvest went a bit bottoms up and I ended up blending it back in to my Fitou.  It was a lovely, perfumed wine but with a lighter aromatic body which made the tannins unbalanced.  So this year I decided to do things differently.  Instead of treating it like the other Mediterranean varieties we decided to treat it like a lighter variety the pinot noir.  Instead of trying to get maximum extract out of the skins we pressed after only 4 days to prioritise the fresh fruit flavours and subtle tannins.  It’s looking very good so far. So much so that I’m even a little upset that I only have the potential to make 900 bottles.
On the subject of small volumes I’m rather disappointed by the meagre harvest of my Carignan Gris.  It’s never been one of my biggest producers - in 2016 I managed to squeeze 600 bottles from my  60 year old vines but unfortunately no matter how much I pressed this year it is going to be a very very small production.  I thought all of my vines had escaped the late April frosts we had this year but this low lying vineyard must have had just a touch of frost - enough to prevent all the grapes developing properly. 

But I’m really pleased to say that  all the other grape varieties Carignan, Grenache and Syrah on the red side and Grenache Gris, Grenache blanc, Macabeu and Muscat on the white side performed well this year and my old vines have done my proud once again.  The 2017 will be one to look out for.

Highlights of the harvest included a cassoulet made by a Dutch chef and served in our vineyard , trips in my old faithful Dyane who was driven in to a ditch by a German, washing 100 picking baskets in the sunshine and watching others wash over 1000,  discovering that gin and fermenting grape juice is a great drink and having an amazing team once again to safely ensure the grapes are picked, put into vat  and looked after with the total and utmost respect they deserve.

Thanks very much Steve and Pauline, Cara and the pickers, all of you who made it to Tuchan to see us and of course Monsieur Jones for making this one of the most enjoyable harvests yet.

 A très bientôt