The 2012 harvest in the Southern Rhône looks like it’s going to be a cracker – a small crop with clean, fully ripe grapes that have good levels of acidity and sugar levels that for once are relatively low. My own experience so far has been mixed and can be summed up as follows:
- Beautiful, warm weather with a constant northerly breeze. Perfect harvesting conditions.
- Wonderfully welcoming people at the cellar where my tanks are housed.
- A hugely knowledgeable friend in Denis Deschamps to nudge me in the right direction and question my decisions.
- Buying and filling my own fermenting tanks.
- Harvesters’ “pause café” at 10.30am (see photo) – the word ‘café’ is somewhat misleading.
- Tasting the first juice and then the first partially fermented wine (must be worth at least €100 a bottle it’s so good!).
- A lovely gîte in Collias where I’m staying, a little village on the banks of the Gardon, just upstream from the extraordinary Pont du Gard.
- Having to wait a few days before getting really stuck in due to rain during the last week of August.
- Having to de-stem 200kg of Syrah grapes by hand because the winery can’t work with such a small volume. Talk about repetitive strain injury.
- The cockerel in the neighbour’s house who seemingly hasn’t got a clue whether it’s day or night and starts anywhere between 5.00-6.00am. Wouldn’t a battery powered alarm clock be nicer for everyone?
- The other neighbour’s dog who thinks it’s great fun to join in with the cockerel.
- Pieds et paquets – look it up.