The big relief in the vineyard last month was that we missed the devastating frosts that hit the Loire, Chablis, Macon and Burgundy. The damage a late frost can do is unrecoverable as it kills off the sprouting buds and with it, that year’s harvest. There’s a long way to go yet in 2016, but everyone’s been busy making sure that the whole vineyard, including the new vines planted last winter, are in great condition. Our fingers are firmly crossed for another great vintage.
Meanwhile, in the cellar Mathieu will be checking to see if racking (see below) is necessary, and getting ready to take the 2015 Reserve white out of barrel. Martin Meinert reckons that the Sauvignon from the limestone soils is the best he’s tasted from Grand Mayne, and the Sémillon is also excellent, so hopes for this wine are very high at this stage.
The 2014 Reserve white is also excellent, with balance and complexity.
Of the Reserve reds, the 2014 is about to be blended using some exceptional Merlot and Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2015 to follow is promising to be spectacular and amongst the very best in 30 years of Grand Mayne. Deeply concentrated Merlot, beautifully ripe Cabernet Franc and powerful and complex Cabernet Sauvignon will provide some fabulous ingredients for Mathieu and the team to weave some magic.
Racking: or soutirage is a traditional method in wine production of moving wine from one barrel to another using gravity rather than a pump. The process is repeated when the casks are moved to the second-year cellar. Soutirage was developed in the Bordeaux region of France in the 19th century at a time when there was no electricity to power pumps and many estates in the area still employ this labour-intensive method. During aging, the wine is decanted several times from barrel to barrel, with tiny amounts of oxygen softening tannins. The process also helps clarify and freshen the wine by removing the fine lees or sediment.