It’s that time of year again. Traffic hazards in the Languedoc have multiplied and it is well-nigh impossible to drive anywhere without getting stuck behind a mechanical harvester or a large trailer full of grapes. The locals seem to acquire a reckless approach to an unbroken white line in the middle of the road – if you can see, just whizz past …….
The usual question: how’s the harvest has met with mixed reactions. Up in the hills in St. Jean de la Blacquière, Jean-Baptiste Granier was about to start picking – on 14th September. He said this was later than the previous three or four years, and more in keeping with the norm, while Gavin Crisfield has almost finished. Both were happy; jean-Baptiste was looking forward to using his new cellar, and some spanking brand new equipment, and the grapes were looking healthy. Gavin seemed very relaxed; quality was good, and quantity not bad either. In fact I was witness to two happy vignerons, enthusing about 2012. A moment to treasure.
I spent last Friday morning picking grapes. A 7.30 start was rewarded by banana cake and coffee mid-morning and a chance to catch up with some friends, as we tried to avoid snipping each other’s fingers as we worked down opposite sides of a row of Carignan. And the Carignan was looking good; lovely healthy bunches, and it tasted good too – some sweet fruit. The Cinsaut was little more problematic – some large juicy looking bunches, but closer inspection revealed in some instances that the grapes had compacted and turned rotten inside the bunch. The offending grapes needed to be cut out – a messy exercise resulting in well-stained sticky fingers. And there was an occasional case of oidium, which makes the grapes look slightly dusty, and rather unappetising.
So in the middle of September most people have picked their white grapes and red grapes intended for rosé, and most agree that the quality is pretty good, but quantity does seem to be down. I am not sure why. Somebody said the sortie was not so good, compensating for a larger crop last year. The weather during the summer has been pretty good. Nights were cool in July, and the beginning of August was not too hot, but then things heated up for a week, with the heat wave broken by some rain, followed by fine weather at the beginning of September.