Helen’s blog

Thoughts and tastings from Helen Savage, wine writer.

Harvest – in full swing

We didn’t start picking Henri Jammet’s grapes last Monday – the weather was  far too hot, but began on Tuesday at 7am sharp. I’ve written a full report for The Journal (to be published this coming Friday).

Apart from the record-breaking beginning to the harvest is that 2011 indeed looks like being a year of fairly low sugar and sometimes very low acid levels in western France: even at this early stage it’s not unreasonable to predict that, with a large harvest, there’s going to a lot of soft, easy-drinking wine around.

Henri’s Chardonnay – the same plot last year was picked on 20 September – will not make much more than 12.5% alcohol, but the acid levels have been falling very fast. The grapes seemed to have achieved full phenolic ripeness and tasted delicious, but on a relatively sheltered site, rot was a bit of a problem.

Other growers – I’ve spoken to folk from Cahors, Touraine and Bordeaux over the last few days all tell a story of low acid and relatively low sugar. And more rain in the latter half of last week has increased worries about berries swelling and splitting. Those who have well-drained soils are less concerned – the July rains far less effect and some are quite excited by the relatively high proportion of skin to pulp. As ever, the story is never  simple.

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