Languedoc Vine Report #23 September 11th

The Languedoc vendange has begun. They started bringing in some of the whites last weekend. In the darkness of the early hours, the vineyards are alive with lights and noise. They’re harvesting at night as this is when sugar levels are most stable. Cool fruit means better control over the fermentation process.

Languedoc Domaine

this way to one of our favourite wines

One of our favourite Domaines always picks at night. Here’s a video from Domaine de La Baume whose Viognier regularly wins prizes.


La Baume was one of the first to pick the grapes entirely at night and to adopt and master micro-oxygenation to preserve the freshness and fruitiness for several years. Their oenologists have a unique approach to vine-growing, carefully managing the size and leaf surface area to maximise the beneficial effects of the Languedoc sun. Their wine-making process aims to reveal the aromas of the grapes with a minimum of intervention. The wines have the distinctive taste of the terroir that they handle with care.

We often take visitors to a wine tasting at La Baume. Nobody has ever been disappointed.

News from the devastated vineyards around Bordeaux

Some wine growers lost up to 80% of their harvest this year due to hailstorms.

Bordeaux vines

ravaged vines in Bordeaux

Enormous hail stones ripped the vines to shreds as you can see from the photo above.

According to Helen Tate of Cult Wines, the authorities have agreed a notion to allow Bordeaux wine producers to bend the rules a little and buy in bulk wines. They are supposed to source extra AOC wine from the same appellation.

Ah, but, I live in Languedoc where the wine is not of the same appellation. So why is it I have seen tankers with Bordeaux registration plates coming to our local Vignerons to fill up?

buying bulk from Languedoc

buying in bulk from Languedoc

You can make your own minds up about that one.

Weather has been changeable since last week’s report. On Saturday, the heavens opened. The sky looked like the end of days and rain lashed us for a good 12 hours. I went out afterwards to see how our Merlot was faring.

Languedoc Merlot


Now these vines look ready. We watched the forecasts and kept looking at the sky. In the distance, the peaks of the Pyrenees loomed like malevolent shadows.

Languedoc Pyrenees

distant shadows

Over the Montagnes Noir, more storm clouds were gathering.

Languedoc storm clouds

more rain on the way?



Fortunately, the storms passed us by. The sun came out again.

And then, this morning, lo and behold! They’re bringing in the reds! Yay! I dashed to the vigneron to see what was happening.

trailer weighing

getting the weight ticket

Each trailer is first weighed empty. The wine grower gets his ticket and drives to his vineyard to meet the harvesting machines.

When he returns with his loaded trailer, he is weighed again and his account credited.

The trailer backs up to the loading chutes. The tailgate opens and, voilà! The 2013 harvest has begun.

tipping the grapes

here they come!

Time to sort the good bits from the waste.

Soon, the village will have that yeasty smell in the air. I can’t wait!

Languedoc harvest

 Next week, I hope to have video clips of the harvesting machines in action in the vineyards.

See you then!


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