A bit late, I know, but harvest was super crazy and I didn’t get a chance to post this earlier but here are some photos from the whites which we harvested on the 5th of September.
After pressing the Savigny-lès-Beaune “Aux Fourneaux” Pinot Noir on Wednesday, I settled the wine in tank for a few days to ensure only the tastiest (and lightest) lies made it into barrel. Barreling straight from the press doesn’t allow you to select how much or what type of lies makes it into the wine for ageing. In a year like this where I want to emphasise the freshness I only want the finest lies; one to ensure that any remaining sugar gets gobbled up in barrel (as lies are dead yeast cells) and two, I am not looking for broadness that more lies contact can give in a year like 2011, which for me, is all about freshness and verve.
Once the fine lies were selected, I then sent the wine to barrel which filled just (and I mean just, only litres to spare!) six pièces (Burgundian term for a 228L barrel). I was very lucky to be able to buy some second hand barrels from a famous domaine in the Côte de Nuits to complement my one new barrel from Stephané Chassin which you can see me filling above. After seeing the wine from berry through ferment I decided on a program of one new barrel, one barrel that had wine in it for one vintage, three that had been used twice and one that had been used three times. Hopefully this is the right decision but I am erring on the side of less-is-more with regards to oak in the 2011 vintage.
After 20 days on skins, it was time to get the wine out of the wooden fermenting tank and into a press. I decided to press earlier than I may have done in a perfect world but I wanted to preserve the fine tannins that I had extracted during fermentation without having the wine being distracted by firmer tannins that come from leaving the wine on skins for a longer period of time. In another year, but that is not what Bacchus brought this year, and one must endeavour to highlight the best qualities of the vintage which for me this year is fresh flavours and fine tannins.
The most delicate pressing is one done vertically as it doesn’t rip the skins or crush the seeds. The downside is that you don’t get as much wine as you may do with a pneumatic press which you can rotate and thus get rid of any hidden pockets of wine.
Thanks to my great mate, Ray Walker of Maison Ilan, I was able to borrow his ancient wooden basket press made by the house of E. Cherreau — from what the local winemakers in Savigny-lès-Beaune tell me was the best producer of pressoirs and foudres at the time. It took a lot of effort — at one stage there were five of us pushing the handle around — but the results were well worth it as you can see below: —
The mouthfeel of the press wine from the lies (dead yeast cells, mainly) and the greater tannin extraction was spectacular and will make a great foil to the delicacy of the wine that ran free from the tank.
Running the free run wine off (the wine that comes easily off the skins without need for pressing—about 80% of the total amount) was drained in 15 minutes. Putting together the press, digging all of the skins out of the tank, pressing the skins and then cleaning up took us another 8 hours for only a barrel of wine. What love went into this cuvée!
Using a hundred year old press sure was a lot of fun and definitely reinforced my growing reputation in Savigny-lès-Beaune as l’êtranger con (crazy foreigner or idiot foreigner depending on how kind you are being to yourself that day) as we had a steady stream of wine makers visiting all day as the word got out around the village.
Check out the slideshow for more of the fun we got up to: —
Yep, that’s me in the wooden tank doing a traditional pigeage with my feet. Traditionally one would get in naked, but modesty and since I had a good friend spotting me, I decided not to embarrass myself. Pigeage is very dangerous so NEVER do it alone! Too many people have died over the years from asphyxiation from the CO2 released including a father and son a few years back in Burgundy.
With this year being a lighter year in Savigny-lès-Beaune I really wanted to emphasise the fresh red-fruit sexiness that make Savigny so special to me so I relied mainly on remontage (taking a portion of the fermenting juice and pouring it back over the top) which is a less extractive form of fermentation management. I only did the one hard pigeage during ferment, right at the end, to release any sugars that were still inside any whole berries.
I am very happy with the results so far — the tannins are very fine and the structure is from the terroir — my vineyard borders on Aloxe-Corton and as such has a firmer body than many Savigny vineyards — rather than from being aggressive with the cap.
Décuvage is a few days away, Tuesday or Wednesday perhaps, to give the wine a few days to recover and tannins to meld before pressing. Exciting to see the wine come together!
Tomorrow we commence by picking my Pinot Noir in Aux Fourneaux. Fruit tastes great and the vines are shutting down as you can see from the leaves turning orange. Lovely phenolic ripeness so it’s time to go. I have some incredible friends from Australia, South Africa, USA and the UK who will be helping me tomorrow.
Our work earlier this week picking out any pourriture (rot) definitely paid off. Acids have turned from green to balanced and flavours are still fresh.
I hope I get a chance to post tomorrow as I am so excited to get going. So much so that we will be in the vines from 6am to start!
With the cooler weather we have been having we have a great opportunity to let the grapes hang and really develop some killer complexity. The problem? Grapes with mounting sugars are more at risk day by day from pourriture (rot). So we went into Pinot vineyard where a small amount of rot has developed to cut it out, open up the canopy and create the best conditions possible. The time spent in the vineyard is always paid back ten fold in the winery. A winemaker can only make a wine as good as the grapes!
As we are approaching ripeness, I am now also taking pH and Titratable Acidity readings. The progress of pH and Titratable Acidity, for me, is a much better sign of grape maturity than sugars.
Today’s numbers: –
Aux Fourneaux (Rouge) – 11.0 º Potential Alcohol, pH 3.00, TA 5.6
Dessus Les Vermots (Blanc) – 11.5 º Potential Alcohol, pH 2.99, TA 5.3
Les Gollardes (Blanc) – 11.4 º Potential Alcohol, pH 3.00, TA 5.5
Les Saucours (Blanc) – 11.2 º Potential Alcohol, pH 3.01, TA 5.2
Looking good! Maybe Monday (5th) for the whites, mid to late next (7-10th) for the red? If this great weather continues, sure!
Absolutely hammered down yesterday but lots of people have started vendages in Savigny-lès-Beaune — a bit early for my taste, but to each his own. The grapes have taken up water from recent deluges and my sugars have even gone backwards based on the samples I took yesterday from dilution effects.
Lovely weather today and forecast through Thursday. I am taking a whole bunch of friends into the Pinot Noir vineyard on Monday to finish the efeuillage I started last week and to remove any grapes affected by pourriture (rot). These two actions should reduce disease pressure and allow me the luxury of waiting until the grapes are at full flavour maturity before picking.
Check out the above slideshow for some amazing photos Emma took while sampling yesterday morning.
Lovely little sight in the vineyard this morning. This is the first year that my vines are being farmed organically and it has been wonderful to see a whole ecosystem develop — diversity of weeds, spiders, worms, ladybirds and now birds nesting. Not sure which species made the nest (sparrow perhaps?) but it looks to me like it was abandoned. No eggs or any evidence of having been used. Maybe our little friend didn’t find a mate this year!
Vendages is close. Meursault and Chassagne-Montrachet are starting this weekend and I may harvest the whites on Tuesday. We’ll see after I take samples and taste the berries on Friday.
Out in the vineyards today taking samples to get a sense on the progress of the vines. While not a rigid “numbers man” when it comes to picking decisions (I base it on flavour first), it does give one a good sense on how the vines are behaving.
I take 100 berries in a random fashion per vineyard not looking at the bunches as it has been shown in research that one reaches for the ripest grapes even if one if endeavouring to be as scientific as possible. Psychology rears it’s head even amongst the vines. Sugars today are as follows: –
Aux Fourneaux (Rouge) 9.6º
Les Saucours (Blanc) 9.3º
Dessus Les Vermots (Blanc) 9.9º
Les Gollardes (Blanc) 10.0º
Measurements are in º Potential Alcohol which is the system the French use when the grapes are still on the vine. They switch to using Specific Gravity once in the cuverie — that’s the French for you! º Potential Alcohol roughly translates to how much alcohol in percent would be produced if it was fermented into wine.
Grapes are looking good. There is some pourriture in the Pinot Noir which is not surprising given the wet and humid July we had. It just means we need to be very diligent when harvesting, both amongst the vines and again in the cuverie, to ensure no rotten berries make it into the wooden tank.
The blanc is looking very, very good. I am very excited about this vintage for white especially in Savigny-lès-Beaune. I am going to take some more samples on Friday and will set a picking date for the blanc then. My gut says next Wednesday but let’s see.
In Aux Fourneaux, my Pinot Noir vineyard, I am doing some effeuillage, fancy french word for leaf pulling, on the northern side of each row. One, to open up the canopy to lower humidity and thus make conditions better for avoiding rot but also to get some more sun on the grapes giving them the final “kick” into full flavour ripeness.
fellow new worlders in burgundypar mark haisma
former winemaker at yarra yering and fellow australian making cracking côte de nuits
ray walker, finance industry drop out, with delicate premier cru and grand cru côte de nuits
american and fellow savigny-lès-beaune producer
domaine david clark
former formula engineer turned vine-hound
mischief & mayhem
fiona + michael ragg craft wines from up and down the golden spike in aloxe-corton. their 2009 whites are pretty special.
chris newman + jane eyre making villages, premier cru and grand cru from up and down the côte d'or.
former hollywood producer mark tarlov's aim to rival burgundy in oregon and california comes home to the motherland.
Savigny-lès-Beaune WeatherThe location could not be found.
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