Friday, October 21, 2016

Domaine Jones: Harvest Diary 2016 - Seven year itch?

Domaine Jones: Harvest Diary 2016 - Seven year itch?: And the lid comes down on the vat of another harvest.  Our seventh in fact! Just as quickly as it started the harvest is over. The firs...

Harvest Diary 2016 - Seven year itch?

And the lid comes down on the vat of another harvest.  Our seventh in fact! Just as quickly as it started the harvest is over.

The first bunch was picked on 29th August and the final berries plucked on the 29th September -  a relatively quick harvest because of the low yields which allowed the grapes to ripen evenly and quickly.  The forest fire that we had just before we picked the reds doesn't seem to have had any major effect on the quality of the wine. Even our firebreak vineyards which we have carefully separated from the rest of the harvest are not showing any untoward smokey flavours.

But after the mayhem of the harvest there is a lovely sense of calm as the grapes finish fermenting and we start to get to know the personality of each of our wines.  We have 20 small vats and barrels from our different vineyards so we have quite a task on our hands but it is intriguing to see how individual they all are.

There are the well behaved ones and then the not so well behaved that take a bit more looking after.

So as we wait for the final grammes of sugar to be fermented and cross our fingers that the malolactic fermentation will kick in straight away, we say a massive thank you to all those who made our 7th vintage one to remember.

But am I starting to itch?  After seven years am I thinking perhaps that the grass is greener on the other side?  PAS DU TOUT!  There is so much to learn, every year is different, every year is organised chaos but less chaotic than the previous one.

I just had the best harvest ever, the team was solid, everyone mucked in, every one kept smiling from the vineyards to the vat - I loved it - roll on 2017!

Behind every great wine, there is a great team of people

Grenache Gris - Decanter

"It’s full of herb and spice notes, textured and creamy from the oak, with a crisp, mineral finish"

Wow!  That's my Grenache Gris that Christelle Guibert is talking about in Decanter! 

Read the full article here

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Harvest Diary 2016 - my point of view

The first red grapes came in on Saturday 17th and oh dear me, where were all the grapes?  We were worried.  We started picking the grenache vineyards lower down in the valley and yields were dramatically down, bunches thin and berries small.  Now I know that we like low yields here at Domaine Jones and we do everything we can to limit over production but there is a bottom limit where you wonder if it is worth going out to pick.

However, as we continued to pick the different vineyards (I have about 25 small vineyards between Tuchan and Paziols) we started to relax a little.

My favourite vineyard (where Jean Marc proposed to me 2 years ago) really came up trumps with lovely bunches of carignan and grenache.  It's a beautiful vineyard with 5 small plots separated by stone walls and with just the most amazing view.

Another of my little favourites is the first vineyard that I bought here in Tuchan.  100 year old carignan and grenache vines and 40 year old syrah half way up the Mont Tauch mountain and with a view over the Chateau d'Aguilar.

I am sure that there are many scientific reasons to explain the variation in yields, but I have come to my own Katie conclusion for 2016 and it seems to be the better the view, the better the grapes.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Harvest Diary 2016 - The extremely rare Carignan Gris

We have a very small vineyard of 60 year old Carignan Gris at Domaine Jones and I always look forward to harvesting it.  The Carignan gris is a bit temperamental and takes its time to ripen so this is always the last white grape to be picked. Well it's not officially white but gris.

Carignan blanc on the left, Carignan Gris on the right -multi coloured vine!
Its late ripening is probably why Carignan Gris isn't so popular down here and most has been ripped up.

Wikipedia and Wine Searcher both say that there is less than 1 hectare planted in Languedoc Roussillon so if that is really the case I must be one of the world's largest producers with a total production of 800 bottles per year.


Here I am checking to see if the grapes are ripe the evening before harvest.

They tasted delicious so we picked and then pressed and out third vintage of the rare Carignan Gris 2016 is bubbling away happily in a tiny 500 litre vat.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Harvest Diary - break down

Midway through the picking and starting to feel the weight of all those grapes - or perhaps lack of them given the very small vintage this year.

The week started badly with my Citroen Dyane having a bad Monday and blowing up half way up the hill in Paziols.

It is now resting in the yard, feeling very sorry for itself until Bjorn the german mechanic opened her up and tickled her insides.

She still doesn't want to go back out into those vineyards though.

The week saw the departure of Julia, the arrival of Bjorn, Dan, Ele and Holly and a quick visit from David.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Harvest Diary 2016 - rain does not stop play

6.00 am          Alarm rings but already awake listening to the sound of rain.  Rain was forecast but until it actually happens you are never sure - forecasted torrential rain has too often than not turned into a light shower but today is going to be different - it is actually raining big time.

6.15 am         Coffee and croissant

6.45 am         Down to the La Gare Winery to get the first press of the morning on.  Lovely muscat grapes bursting with sweet juice.  50 cases loaded in the press by hand - no need to go down the gym.  Full body work out and 10 000 steps before 12 am.

Team Jones ready for action in the rain - Tassy, Steve and Pauline (Vinesmiths).
7.30 am         Washing the empty cases in the rain doesn't have the same attraction as in 35° heat but team Jones is on the job (thanks Tassy).  I'm just reliving memories of childhood caravan holidays in Wales and relieved to finally have some rain.

9.00 am          First press of the day finished.  Time to gently pump the lovely juice into the tank to settle and empty the stalks from the press (thanks Steve).  Sounds easy but need to push press out of winery, empty stalks or as many as possible into tray, then shovel others off the floor into tray.  Then one lucky member of team Jones needs to get their wet weather gear on and get inside the press with the hose and give it a good rinse out.  I think I'll get the kettle on!

Well earned coffee break 

9.15 am         Press clean (thanks Pauline) and pushed back into the winery, 50 more cases waiting to be loaded.  The challenge for team Jones today is 4 presses before bedtime!  Thanks team Jones.

Smiling through the clouds