3rd september – volnay and smelly grapes


Pinot Beurot (Gris) mixed amongst the Pinot Noir

graphWell September certainly seems to be carrying on where August left off – you can see (right) how cool August was vs the average – and today at 15:30 it is a cloudy 15°c, by 6pm there are a few spots of rain. If the Spring had not been so precocious we would certainly have seen a ‘classical’ late September, even October harvest.

My ‘home team’ brought in the Volnay 1er Cru Les Taillepieds on Sunday – and wow, what a mess. They made a selection of 30% i.e. they had to throw 30% away as the grapes were horrible. For the first time they even checked the smell of every single bunch too – why? See below. A quick tour of the Côte de Nuits parcels caused some relief, indeed optimism, but more of that tomorrow.

Credits again for Météo Savigny-lés-Beaune for the temperature graph.

I received a couple of updates from winemakers yesterday, so I include these too.

Winemaker 1. A view from Morey St.Denis:

I will be harvesting from Tuesday. My grapes are healthy and happily making sugar, I hope to avoid enriching the wines this year. Some wine makers have already started their harvests, perhaps they are right, but I wanted to wait as the fruit is healthy enough to go for another couple of days, I am keeping my fingers crossed for the nice weather that we were promised, another degree would be nice. The acidity seems to be a bit low, but we’ll see in the tanks. The color is more present than in 2006, I am counting on using a bit more new oak as the tannins are reportedly harder to extract. The seeds were still a bit green last week, but I noticed a beautiful brown yesterday in “Les Baudes.” This will be yet another tricky year, but I like challenges.

Winemaker 2. A producer making wine in both Côtes:

Regarding the update on harvest : I think I’ve never had as low expectations and as good surprises as this vintage. We’re only just started a couple of days ago, but the sugar levels are much higher than I thought they would be (I was really fearing things as low as 10,5 to 11), and the first grapes we got in reached some 12 – 12,5, which is really nice if not extraordinary. Botrytis isn’t too bad, even if sorting will remain one of the key issues to quality this vintage : botrytis of course, but also grapes that are affected by the starting to be sadly famous “gout moisi terreux”, which doesn’t seem to be all that related to botrytis. So far, everything we got in is perfectly clean, and shows wonderful fruit. Pretty ripe fruit, and a nice colour also : my first two tanks started fermenting, and to see the colour during a remontage this morning was really a nice surprise : the “service technique du BIVB” had announced little anthocyanins, and maybe even fewer tannins to bind and protect the colour, but obviously, we’ll have quite nice colours as well as the rest.

So over all, I’m quite confident, if not enthusiastic, about the vintage : it certainly won’t be a great keeper like 2005 indeed, but the wine made by serious producers should be really very nice. The main issu will be the amount of efforts people will be willing to do for the triage.

At our domaine, we’ve had a big discussion about whether to start early and pick under ripe but healthy grapes, or pick later, being aware that we would have to sort and that we would lose volume. We’ve taken the second option, and I’m glad we did, even more now the weather is pretty good and weather forecast remains optimistic.

It’s very interesting that the note above about “gout moisi terreux” comes out, because it was referred to also by the producer in Morey who said they would be sniffing every bunch to check everything is in order – now you know what was happening with the Taillepieds – apparently it’s easily spotted, if you care to look. Interesting because I’ve never noted a grower openly introduce the subject before, yet here are three together.

The quote refers to a bunch of highly odorous compounds – amongst which geosmin is the most well-known – that impart an earthy or beetroot smell to wine that even in small concentration would classed as a ‘fault’: “One of the consequences of rot on grapes is the development of volatile compounds giving fungal, mouldy or earthy odours. Among these compounds, (-)-geosmin (trans-1,10-dimethyl-trans-9-decalol), a powerful aromatic compound with an earthy smell is a persistent defect in grape juice and wines made with at least partially rotten grapes.

Quoting winemaker #2 again:

Their genesis is not very clear either : botrytis and some strains of penicillium are known to be able to produce them, but they’re not the only ones. This makes it a quite difficult problem at the moment.

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?

There are 3 responses to “3rd september – volnay and smelly grapes”

  1. Michael Warner4th September 2007 at 1:04 pmPermalinkReply

    Thanks for the daily updates Bill.

    I’m going to be over there next week – but it really looks like I mistimed my trip since everyone is still going to be pretty busy !

  2. billn30th October 2008 at 9:25 amPermalinkReply

    Teidän suomenkielinen käännös on täysin surkea.Siitä ei saa mitään selvää!

    Risto – Isn’t Google quite up to the job? 😉

    Your Finnish language is lousy. It can´t be understood. Miserable!

    Well, Google got that right… 🙂

  3. stina20th November 2008 at 10:48 amPermalinkReply

    Heia Norge,

    Trenger et par raad….
    Skal til Champagne og Bourgogne (via Dover -Calais)i hovedsak for aa kjoepe vin og champagne til et stort familieseselskap, men ogsaa fordi vi elsker vin og har en droem om en liten vinkjeller. Jeg oensker aa finne frem til 2 sma produsenter i baade C. og B. Det er ikke vanskelig aa finne frem til de store produsentene, men siden vi bare har to dager oensker jeg aa finne noen sma som vi kan reise til.
    Har du noen forslag? 🙂


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