Sunday, September 30, 2018

Harvest 2018 - sunshine and smiles

We started Domaine Jones’ 10th harvest (yes 10 years already) on the 27th August a week later than last year, which was particularly early, but a week earlier than previous vintages.

We have 14 tiny vineyards that make up 12 hectares and we hand pick absolutely everything!

We started with the Grenache Gris from our original 90 year old vineyard in Maury, followed by the old vine Grenache blanc and Macabeu in Tuchan.

I think those old vines in Maury must have been having a rest this year as they only managed to produce 50% of last year’s yield.  So a miniscule vintage which was fortunately compensated by a slightly higher yield from the vines in Tuchan.

Everything that has come in though has been perfectly healthy and at optimum ripeness thanks to the amazing vineyard talent of Monsieur Jones.  No mean feat for a vintage that was particularly difficult given heavy rain in the spring and a resulting abundunce of grass in the vineyards.  Perhaps not the best year to start our conversion into organic production but we had to employ an extra person and buy another strimmer to keep on top of it.

The resulting juice has been well balanced with less sugar than usual and surprisingly a slightly lower acidity. The freshly pressed juice smells delicious and ferments have so far finished on 3 of the vats producing wines that show great varietal character – grenache gris mineral, lean and stoney, grenache blanc - fruity and plumper and the macabeu lovely ripe pear character and more weighty.

The grapes were easy to press with a high juice content although the press were difficult to settle.

On the reds we have picked everything except for 2 small vineyards of carignan which we will probably pick at the end of this week.

We started with the syrah which ripens first, then the grenache and the hairy grenache and finally the carignan which takes a bit longer to ripen.

Despite a small heatwave in July which made everyone talk about an early harvest, the ripening of the reds has been slow and on a couple of occasions we have held back our 15 strong team of pickers and delayed picking by a couple of days.

In the 10 vintages we have done I have never seen such juicy grapes and such intensely fragrant juice. We do 2 rack and returns a day which involves taking the fermenting juice from the vat and then pumping it gently back over the skins and the Gare du Vin winery is just filled with fresh red fruit flavours – strawberry, blackcurrent and raspberry.

The ferments just totally have a mind of their own though.  Almost as soon as the grapes see the vat they start to ferment so you have to be really quick with the cooling as otherwise ferments would be over before you have had time to gently extract all the flavour and structure from the skins.  We put our grapes in a cooling room overnight to get a bit more control but even at cold temperature the red ferments are quick, very quick. 

It is early days but we can already see that the syrah are intensely perfumed and dark in colour and the grenache are slightly lighter in colour than usual.  We wait to see what the carignan will be like - and of course the hairy grenache.

Fingers crossed that the 10th Domaine Jones harvest will be the best one yet!!