To the left is a photo of a very old vine from my plot of Pinot Noir in the vineyard of Aux Fourneaux. Berry size has been very even this year but with some older vines you get some berries which are much smaller than others — the french call this millanderage, in Australia we can it “Hen and Chick” and results from a mutation at bud formation (which occurs the previous spring, i.e. spring 2010 for this year’s crop). As the vines get older, you see this more often but you can also see it more widely spread if the conditions in the previous spring were unfavourable and thus the buds did not develop properly. Counterintuitively this is often a hallmark of great vintages. One of the reasons I believe that 2010 will be such a special vintage is that there was a lot of millanderage — the effect is a higher skin to pulp ratio which leads to a more “concentrated” character to the wine.

When we harvest this vineyard I will do a pass through myself before my pickeurs and select the best looking bunches from the oldest vines, especially any ones with millanderage, to put in the vat with their stems still attached (entier in french). I believe a judicious percentage of the must being whole cluster adds some complexity and backbone to the wine. How much? Well as Patrick Bize has always advised me: — “when you see the vines, you see the wine”.

 

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