September – Early morning. The sun rises slowly over the vineyard, painting the sky in a vibrant red, melting into shades of orange, then pale pink. This delicate light washes over the estate now. As the dew begins to slowly disappear under the morning sun, Thomas, Sabrina and Sylvain roam the vineyard, tasting.
September is an intense month on the estate, since it generally brings the beginning of harvest. This year, the harvest began September 13th with the parcels of young Merlot. And since the beginning of the month, every morning the technical team has tasted the berries to keep track of the grapes’ maturity levels. They walk the vine rows of every parcel, picking berries here and there, analysing the flavours and smoothness of tannins in the skins and seeds.
Tasting grapes is an art unto itself. It’s the first step towards truly distinguishing the similarities and differences between parcels. It’s the moment when we begin to group the grapes, and even to blend them, if only at first in our minds. Some will reach maturity earlier, revealing themselves before the others. Eventually, this entire puzzle of parcels will be sorted through.
These daily tasting walks allow us to evaluate three types of grape maturity: technological maturity, which reflects the balance of sugar and acidity, aromatic maturity which indicates the aromatic style of the vintage, and finally phenolic maturity, which allows us to judge the quality of the tannins and overall structure.
We seek the moment when these three types of maturity are in sync, so that only the most promising grapes enter the vats. Each vintage is different, unique, and to best respect its style, the decision of whether to harvest or wait must entail a very subtle equation indeed. Each day matters. It’s a countdown whose sum provides the first score of the vintage.