Wine and Moore - vineyard and winery guides and travel information

The 2012 harvest in Minervois - Château St Jacques d’Albas

Monday 24th December 2012 - By David Moore

Château St Jacques d’AlbasOur second 2012 harvest report is from Minervois in the south-west of the Languedoc region. Unlike the Côtes du Roussillon to the south, there appear to have been more challenging conditions here. Richard Osborne, the Australian wine-making consultant to Château St Jacques d’Albas has described the vintage as the most difficult he has experienced in his 22 years in France. Our thanks go to Graham Nutter at St Jacques d’Albas for highlighting some of the challenges of the growing season.

The trend for the year here was set with a late budding in early April followed by irregular flowering in June and consequent reduction in fruit. Cool early summer temperatures presented difficulties with sugar accumulation and humid conditions meant a higher risk of fungal disease than normal for the area. The year was saved by warm sunny weather in August which carried on into early September.

Fruit for the white and rosé was harvested in early September. However the need for for full physiological (flavour) ripeness, in particular in the Syrah and Carignan in the top reds, necessitated a brave wait until early October to complete the harvest and achieve fruit with concentration, balance as well as potential complexity. Among the other challenges of the year, lower than average summer rainfall had ensured vines that were water stressed during the final stages of ripening.

Graham feels that the domaine snatched victory from potential disappointment and is very pleased with, in particular, his Syrah as well as the Carignan. Extreme care though has been exercised in the winery with the fruit and in particular the tricky Grenache. Maintaining temperatures during vinification and minimizing pump overs should achieve balance without aggressive tannins. While great wine is unquestionably made in the vineyard, craftsmanship and skill remain necessities in the cellar.

A final thought from Graham Nutter raises some interesting questions about the state of the climate in recent years, “We have to say that recent years’ weather has become more variable and which adds unexpected complications to both harvesting and work in the cellar. A reflection of more complex global weather patterns? Let’s hope that 2013 brings us a little more “normality”.

Chateau St Jacques d’Albas make a small range of well-crafted wines under the IGP d’Oc classification as well as more structured and impressive Minervois reds. A comprehensive domaine profile will be included in the upcoming Le Midi Vin in the Spring.  Further details can be found on their website

The 2012 Vintage in the Côtes du Roussillon

Saturday 1st December 2012 - By David Moore

This is the first of a small series of articles over the next couple of months in which we will bring you reactions from winegrowers and producers to the 2012 harvest in southern France and across Spain. My thanks to Jonathan Hesford and Rachel Treloar, proprietors of Domaine Treloar, for their observations about the year in the Côtes du Roussillon, which is south of Côtes du Roussillon-Villages and Rivesaltes but nevertheless a source of some excellent wines.

These are Jonathan Hesfords observations which make for some interesting reading:

“We had cool, wet weather over flowering, which led to poor fruit-set and therefore low yields in the Grenache and Carignan varieties but others were OK, around normal yields for me of 26hl/ha.
The August heat-wave made up for a cooler June and the grapes ripened nicely into September which had great weather, making it easy to choose the right picking day. The state of health of the grapes was probably the best I’ve ever had. This year I made a conscious decision to reduce the amount of time pumping over to lower the tannin extraction on the reds. I’ve also given up using enzymes completely and done more wild ferments.
The wines have all turned out really well. I would say the stars at the moment are the One Block Muscat, the Syrah and the old-vine Syrah/Carignan whole bunch co-ferment on stems, of which there will be around 1200 bottles. I chose to switch to larger format barrels for these two reds, using 450lt French oak barrels from Rousseau, which has been by favourite tonnellerie for several years.
I had assumed that this fine harvest applied to the whole of the Languedoc-Roussillon. My neighbours in the Aspres all agreed on low yields and great quality. However, I met a producer in Maury yesterday who tends to harvest late and he said it was his worst vintage. They had hail at flowering, resulting in vines with no grapes at all and then the late season rains damaged and diluted the crop that was available. Which only goes to show how diverse the Roussillon is. The problem is that wine journalists focus on Maury and the Agly valley and use that as the yardstick to measure the whole Roussillon.”

Domaine -  is a small 10 ha domaine in the southern Roussillon a short distance north of the Spanish border. Jonathan Hesfords training and background in New Zealand has helped he and his wife Rachel in making a small range of classy, polished reds, whites and a rosé. The rich and concentrated flagship Tahi is a selection of their best parcels and barrels of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvèdre. Motus is mainly Mourvèdre while Le Secret is a stylish, black pepper scented blend dominated by Syrah. More immediately approachable are Three Peaks (Grenache, Syrah and Mouvèdre), the One Block Grenache and the unoaked Le Ciel Vide. As well as a dry, aromatic Muscat, One Block, a Muscat de Rivesaltes is also made as well as a richly textured, mineral scented second dry white La Terre Promise blended from Macabeu, Grenache Gris and the rare Carignan Blanc. A full profile of the domaine will be included in early 2013 in Le Midi Vin.    

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Thursday 10th May 2012 - By David Moore

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This is where we will bring you all wine related news for the site. We plan to feature special pieces on individual wine producers who may be under the radar but offer quality and value. Over the next couple of months there will be an article on the Land of Hope winery, a wine trust set up to help with education by the Winery of Good Hope, a profile of the remarkable old vine Garnarcha reds produced by the Garnacha de Gredos group of small wineries based in Toledo, Madrid and Avila plus other features.

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