The first decision is when to start picking. Surprisingly, it’s not something that can be planned well in advance. Nature’s foibles, frequently beneficial, mean that each year is different from preceding ones. Events such as drought, torrential rain, cool or torrid summers all have a huge influence on the grapes’ optimal maturity and the character of the vintage.
Thus, in the weeks leading up to September, we inspect each parcel of vines individually so as to forecast the ideal time to start picking. We take account of the overall state of the plants and grapes, ‘tasting’ their pips and skins to help us come to a final decision.
We can start picking !
Grapes picked in the cool of the morning !
All the grapes, including the reds, are hand picked between 7 a.m. and midday to benefit from the morning cool. They are then taken to the cave in little open weave baskets to keep them fresh. This means that we can get rid of any bad grapes and foreign bodies during the afternoon as they move along the sorting table. In this way we can be sure that only healthy fruit is gravity fed into the vats.
We apply different criteria to the vinification process, which depends on the special characteristics of each year and the quality of each grape variety.
But one rule is absolute : we never add industrial yeast, preferring to rely on the natural leavening matter which develops over the months in the grape skins themselves ! s