Ch de Sours: Harvest Report 4


Another harvest update for Martin Krajewski at Ch de Sours in Bordeaux:

Things have continued to go well and, following on from where I left off last week, we continued to pick at Chateau de Sours on Wednesday 15th September.

It was yet another early start again, but by 8pm that evening we had 45 tons of Merlot and a full press, eventually finishing the pressing at midnight. It was a glorious day with the temperature hitting the early 30C’s but once again cold at night with the temperature falling to just below 10C in the early morning.

Marcus Le Grice, my partner in Clos Cantenac also arrives from London and we have Georges our chef here at the Chateau too, with a photographer, shooting his wonderful culinary creations, as we are planning a new cookery brochure for 2011. Fortunately Georges also cooks a fantastic 6 course menu for a very late dinner, which we devoured quickly, finally getting off to bed at 1am.

We were up early though on Thursday 16th, with everything set up for the picking of the young (12 year old) Merlot plants at Clos Cantenac. A team of 25 pickers had assembled by 8am at Chateau de Sours but it was raining very softly at de Sours which was unexpected and we were slightly worried. However, over at Clos Cantenac in St Emilion, just 10km away there is no rain – just a rather overcast and slightly chilly morning with a fresh wind, but near perfect picking conditions.

Everything got going by 8.30am and the team rapidly picked the 0.6 hectare block into small cagettes, which were then gently tipped into our new vibrating trailer. The fruit was then quickly moved to the Chais in very good condition and there were no problems with the fruit, apart from the fact that some of the bunches were a little uneven and all had very small berries.

We had 8 people on the sorting table waiting for the fruit to arrive by conveyor, which after de-stemming, goes up to a specially designed and custom fitted crusher suspended above the cuvee in which we will ferment. The picking was quickly over and everybody arrived at the winery just after 11.30am, but the sorting table work lasted until 2pm but it is work well done. We ended up with about 3.6 tonnes of berries or 28hl of juice in tank and the potential of some 3000+ bottles of Clos Cantenac 2010.

It started to rain at about 11am, just before we had finished picking, but it was only a little light rain and it did no harm but it got heavier at noon and then was all over by 1pm when the sun breaks through and it turned out to be another very pleasant afternoon.

Marcus and I also went off to inspect a small block 0.42h of old vines that sits just beneath the village of St Emilion and that is about 1k away, with a view to a potential purchase. Some of the vines are 70+ years but some were also missing, so we decided to ask Xavier to review the block next week when he comes back from The Napa and do some soil analysis. Andy and Therese from Cask also pitched in on the sorting table for about 10 minutes and then suddenly remembered that they has a lunch appointment in St Emilion. Good work if you can get it!

Friday 17th – it was sunny again and another 6am start. We picked the Cabernet Franc for Rose back at Chateau de Sours and after an uneventful but full days work, we finally started the press at 6pm. It has been a slow day, with the fruit coming from a vineyard about 10 ks away, so some delays between deliveries by tractor and trailer. The pressing finished at 10pm and everything is cleared up by midnight.

There was to be no picking last weekend, although Valerie and the team had to still work – starting more of the fermentation of the Rose at de Sours and pumping over at Clos Cantenac.

I arrive back on the early flight to Bordeaux on Wednesday morning to find that all of the Rose has now been picked, including the Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. We have a full Rose cellar – some 300,000 + bottles fermenting away and another harvest in tank! BRAVO!

Also by the time I got back to the Chateau on Wednesday, Xavier Chone and Florent Dumeau, our consultants were there and working with Valerie and Edouard on a complete review of the past week’s activities. Valerie had prepared tank samples of the Rose and the White and they also did a complete tour and control of the remaining vines to be harvested.

Everything is still looking good and it very exciting now as we started to contemplate the schedule for harvesting the reds. Fortunately the new Red Fermentation Cellar is ready! And also 4 more new cuvees have arrived and were quickly installed.

It’s all going on all around us now. The roofers had finish the tiling on the new White Cellar by mid morning and then started to prepare the steelwork for pouring the slab for the floor on Friday. Another team of builders were also on-site, marking out the foundation for the Red barrel hall and the place is beginning to really take shape.

Then, late on Wednesday afternoon and Terry Pennington of Gilbeys arrives for a short visit with Sally-Anne Cooney and her father, Pat Cooney, of Gleeson’s in Ireland. They have just recently purchased Gilbey’s and it was our first meeting, but what a very nice way to meet as we sit on the back terrace with a glass of Rose in our hands and watch the early evening sun sink slowly behind the trees in the far distance.

Then finally, at 6am this morning, Thursday 23rd, we start the reds at Chateau de Sours and the new Red Cellar is straight into ACTION!

It’s been a great few days, no real dramas to speak of at all. We have all of the white now in barrel and we are very excited by the quality of the juice.

Time for another glass of Rose I think!