Tag Archives: grapes

The Vigneron at work

27 Oct
squeeze those babies

squeeze those babies

That’s it.  The grapes are all in and the Vigneron is content.  No more 24/7 reading of satellite images and predicted weather patterns on numerous websites, he can relax and is relieved that this region has been pretty bloody lucky with its weather.

The grapes on the vines looked great and ripened slowly resulting in fruit with a lower baume and high maturity.  So, enfin, 2013 looks like a good year!  The man is happy.

Autumn vines, La Liviniere

Autumn vines, La Liviniere

Autumn vines 2

I came down from the hill rather early a couple of mornings ago and had a peek at what was going on in the cellar.  I love the smell in there.  Takes me back to when we met.  OK squeaky violins time – yes, harvest time is special for me, it was during a harvest, all those years ago, that the V and I met.  I was in my hometown, Adelaide and he was ‘the Frenchie’, with little English (come on, admit it), clad in King Gee work gear, a divine Roman nose, working long vintage hours for a winemaker friend – that swept me off my feet.

Fast forward a decade or more, and I am still smitten when I smell the tanks of fermenting grapes in the cellar (oh to bottle this in a jar, a quick whiff and happy married couple all over again…).

‘Les Vendanges’ is a dynamic time and as I’ve said many times before, the village comes alive when the grapes are coming in.  A whole year’s work is reaping its rewards and the old tractors are out on every village road, chugging in full force with trailers laden with glistening grapes.  Even our baby was born on the first day of an Aussie harvest…

But let me get back to where I started.  I was in the village early one morning this week and called in on the V to see what was going on in his cellar.  The red grapes are all resting in their tanks and every couple of days they’re  ‘pumping-over‘.  After a month of this, they will put it all through the press.  One more step towards a delightful, drinkable juice.

Here’s some images for you from that morning, in and out of the cellar…

hq bn

ben at work

Benji in the cellar

Benji and Yves

grenache

grenache!

juicy Grenache

nose

gren a gren bthe Grenache resting in wooden 'tank'

the Grenache resting in wooden ‘tank’

And over the road…

the neighbours opposite

the neighbours opposite, Domaine Arnaud

yves 2

…another neighbour, another Yves – of Chateau Faiteau, the cousin of Domaine Arnaud…(in a village, it’s all family)

Eloise

Eloise, downtown La Liviniere

downtown La Liviniere

Eloise and Fanny

Eloise and Fanny

nap

heart door

hearts

laundry wall

aut col

…and the ride back up the hill to home

autumn col 1

sweet berry picking

4 Sep
Lilas and her pickings ...not quite the ripe grapes papa is hoping for, but they taste just as good

Lilas and her pickings …not quite the ripe grapes papa is hoping for, but they taste just as good

A little mini update from the vineyards…

‘Les Vendanges’ (harvest) will begin remarkably late for us this year, with picking beginning as late as one week from now.  Yes we’re enjoying beautiful sunny days in these first few days of September, but the grapes are having a hard time ripening due to 2013’s fairly cool Spring and late Summer.   Waiting waiting waiting.  Benji’s getting those annual, pre-mens vendanges nerves and I’m keeping food on the table…

But even if the grapes aren’t all sweet and ripe for the picking, there is some ripe fruit to be had…  After an evening’s inspection of the vignes (vines), we’ve been tucking into the wild mures (blackberries) out the back!… 

grape walk3

grape walk 2

grape walk

berry picking season

berry picking season 2

And hey Dad, Happy Birthday!!….

allo allo – pics from the 2012 harvest

2 Nov

It’s Thursday and our turn poker night at our house.  The guys were insepcting the labels for a new wine of Benji’s that’s about to be bottled and then got stuck into drinking some others.

poker tonight

Inspecting Vincent’s labels for a new Benji wine coming soon, ‘Boulevard Napoleon’.  (and a thank you to monsieur p for your hand modelling work)

I was so excited, Benji put a great bottle of white in the freezer and I left them (wringing my hands in anticipation) in the kitchen as they sat down to play.  Half-an-hour later I reminded Benji about his bottle chilling and he held one up and said ‘Oh this one? It’s finished’.  My mouth dropped.  The scoundrels!

Comtes Lafon

Comtes Lafon MEURSAULT-GOUTTE D’OR 2009 Chardonnay

Time to come to the computer and vent some steam.

(I should admit I got to bring a twentieth of a glass of chardonnay with me – so generous of you fellas)

I’d been meaning to put up some long-overdue photos anyway.

So for you,  here’s a round-up of the 2012 grape harvest in our little area, the village of La Liviniere, in the Minervois region.  In our village alone, of approxiamtely 600 people, there are 16 vignerons (winemakers/vineyard owners producing their own brand) and about 150 viticulturalists processing their grapes with the local Cave Co-operative.

vineyards in Calamiac

It’s been a good harvest and people seem pretty happy about what they’ve picked – despite the kaleidoscope of weather.  Essentially, we had good rain, good sun, good wind and the vineyard owners and vignerons are happy to see their babies off the vines and in the tanks.

Gone for the moment the need to check on the weather patterns 24/7 and the worries of the wiles of Nature , it’s now time to work inside the cellars and nurture the juice.

While the viticulteurs take it easier, the vignerons need to keep up a a seven day working week.  It is now that crucial decisions, with their accompanying stress, need to be made regarding the precious juice and its management and development.

However, I can say that the general climate in our house is now pleasantly mild with fewer storms brewing on the front .

But not if the wine isn’t shared around.

calamiac harvest time

calamiac, harvest time

tractor

lunchtime break in the village

man, dog, harvester

morning rain in Calamiac

raining one afternoon…

sun over vines

…sunny the next

morning talk at harvester

morning chat by the harvester

lilas on the terrace

calamiac rainbow

lilas rainbow

the neighbouring vigneron's pickers

the neighbouring vigneron’s pickers

the alternative

…the alternative

lilas watching the harvester

watching the harvester from the house, early morning

harvester at home with clothes line

dry stone wall and vines

early morning calamiac

early morning, calamiac

sun over our vines

clouds and vines

Les Vendanges – La Rentree

14 Sep
Lilas in the vines
Checking the grapes, the night before school goes back
lilas with a bunch

a bunch ready for the picking

It only seems like yesterday that Lilas broke up from school and started the Summer holidays at the beginning of July.

And then before I knew it, we’d been on the Naked tour, my family had come and gone, the Olympics and Paralympics ended with a bang, the Fetes de Villages had packed up for the year, our Summer friends had all been and gone…

Summer 2012

Summer 2012

…and suddenly the grapes got ripe for the picking! (‘Les Vendanges’):

VENDANGES EN LANGUEDOC, Societe des Cartes Postales APA-POUX, ALBI - 'AS DE COUER'

‘Vendanges en Languedoc’ (AS DE COEUR)

– and the new school year (‘La Rentree’) 2012-2013 started.

la classe

la classe

Come September, a different kind of ambience sets in around here.  The tourists (or most of them!) have left en masse, the weather softens and jumpers come out for nights on the terrace, the markets no longer have ‘bouchons’ (traffic jams):

Carcassonne market

Carcassonne market, August

…the local pools have shut their gates:

– and tanned bodies (just not ours) post ‘les vacances’:

skin!

Lola and Lilas

…get ready for some WORK!

following a tractor during the harvest

You often get stuck behind these people during the harvest!  Time to slow down and have some respect…

Les Vendanges a La Liviniere

‘Les Vendanges’ in La Liviniere

Les Vendanges is one of the most important events on our local calendar (most people in our village own or have some family connection/ investment in grape vines) – and each year, come September, there is the most wonderful buzz in the air.  The village hums with expectation and excitement over the ‘recolte’ (harvest) – it’s time to pick the ‘fruits’ of a long year’s labour.

Lilas and a bunch

check it out

And harvest always coincides with the kiddies going back to school after two months’ of holidays.  I still can’t quite get my head around this school ‘year’ here.  In Australia our school ‘year’ begins around the beginning of the calendar year, in February – after Xmas and at the end of Summer.  Here, each school year ends in what I would call the middle of the year, July, and then recommences in September.  And because of this schoolbooks, labels etc name the school ‘year’ as ‘2000-2001’ etc.  This year for example, is ‘2012-2013’.  I know I’m rambling.  Maybe it’s because I’m from ‘down there’ that I’m confused.

picking an apple for school

Picking an apple for tomorrow’s ‘gouter’ (afternoon snack) on the first day back at school

Anyway, back to the grapes.  The reds are just getting under way, but Benji has been picking for a couple weeks’ now as the whites here ripened earlier.  As for how this year’s harvest will be?  It’s looking good so far – relief!  The weather has been almost perfect for the grapes these last few weeks – a lot of sun and no rain – and so it all needs to come in NOW!

It will be the biggest week yet – 4am starts, working through until 6pm, 7/7.   Another couple of weeks of this, then it’s finished for the pickers and machine harvesters in the vines, but full-steam ahead in the wine cellar – managing the tanks and their juice.  Benji will maintain this crazy routine for a few more weeks yet – until the end of October.  And then it will be time to think about HIS holiday!…

the grapes are GO on Boulevard Napoleon

15 Oct
the grapes have arrived at the cellar

grapes fresh from the vineyard, lined up waiting to be de-stemmed

Well that’s it for picking this year.  All the grapes are in, busy fermenting, creating heat in the tanks and Benji can breathe a sigh of relief.  We’ve had good amounts of sunshine and wind, no hail, no rot – now it’s time to leave the grapes to do their stuff in the winery and see what sort of juices evolve.

Benji and tractor at la cave (the wine cellar) on Boulevard Napoleon

Benji at ‘la cave’ (the wine cellar) on Boulevard Napoleon

These photos show the last of the grapes from the harvest – the Grenache – coming in.  We hung around for a couple of hours to see the action. It might sound nerdy, just hanging around and watching grapes go into a machine for processing, but really, it was quite exciting!  Really!  There’s something about the odour, the colours, the satisfaction on the faces of the grape growers seeing their fruit finally picked and about to perform their transformation.

As I’ve already said, the harvest is a wonderful time to witness.  And it was just great taking in the blokes’ excitement in the cellar.

ready to unload

ready to unload into the crusher

Yves emptying the grenache grapes into the crusher

Yves emptying grenache grapes into the crusher

Benji and Pierre ready for the first delivery

Benji and Pierre waiting for the grapes to come through from the first delivery

Pierre photographing his fruit

Pierre (le viticulteur) photographing his babies

les filles in the 'sandpit'

les filles keeping busy in the ‘sandpit’

The grapes were carefully emptied from their ‘caisses’ (box/basket) one by one into the de-stemmer/crusher (yes, it does what it says, plucks the berries from their stems and sorts away the leaves)  which then drops the glistening little purple ‘beads’ (they look like jewellery) onto the sorting tray.  They are dropped down into another tray, with a huge turning ‘screw’ and then pumped up through the red hose, straight into the tank.  Some of the grapes were collected into buckets and emptied directly into wine barrels (second-hand, so not full-blown wood influences on the juice).  A small experiment to develop different flavours.

If the wine is as delicious as the berries tasted, everyone will be happy!…

stacked and waiting to go

stacked and waiting to go

coming through

coming through

viniclean

viniclean

the factory line

the factory line

into the tank

up into the tank

Grenache

100% Grenache

first taste of the juice!

first taste of the juice!

Jerome passing by

Jerome passing by

Bleu Blanc Rouge

Bleu Blanc Rouge (thanks Mat!)

cleaning up

cleaning up

Allez, les jolis tracteurs!

15 Sep
getting ready for harvest

getting ready for harvest

They’re off and running!

Everywhere you look in our village there are all sorts of machines and tractors bringing the grapes in.  The weather’s holding up and La Liviniere is in a flurry of activity.

While La Liviniere’s reputation as a quality wine producer is still on the ascent, the region isn’t  new to wine production by any means – the Romans planted vines here over two thousand years ago.   The original name of the village was ‘Cella Vinaria’, indicationg wine in its title, becoming ‘Livineira’ in 1069 and then ‘La Liviniere’ in 1688.

In 1999 the area was awarded as an ‘A.O.C’ title (appellation origine controlee) – A.O.C. Minervois-La Liviniere.   The main varieties of grapes cultivated here are Syrah, Mourvèdre et Grenache (representing about 60%) and you also find wines comprised of Carignan (I love this variety!), Cinsault (Benji’s rose made of this is delicious), Terret, Piquepoul et Aspiran.

Victoire a Bacchus

“Victoire a Bacchus” – I spotted this in the village for the first time only yesterday! A rather timely find…

On ya va!! let’s go…

'la vigne' image alain gree

‘la vigne’ image – alain gree

renault tractor

Renault tractor

dog and his tractor

dog and his tractor

machine harvester

coming home for lunch

tractor in the village 2

break time

not quite your usual load during harvest

not quite grapes in that one…

storming the vllage for grapes!

On my morning walk I had to make way for this harvester.  An impressive sight up close!

tractor la liviniere 3

ready to go in the morning, just opposite Lilas’ school

this one was raring to get out of its cage

This little guy was raring to get out of his cage! I saw him locked up behind some gates looking very sorry for himself while all the others were letting loose.

Massey Ferguson

Massey Ferguson

old blue tractor

now I’ve got to say that this one isn’t in our village, but I love it!

green and red tractor

la liv tracteur

la liv tracteur 2

from Alain Gree's  'La Ferme'; Editions Casterman, 1965 - 'la grande aventure de la vigne' alain gree

Inside Lilas’ book… even the kiddies have stories of the harvest and wine production in their picture books!  Thought this was a good addition to the post!

allo allo – an update from the vines

2 Sep
yesterday morning

Morning light over the neighbour's vines across the road

the vineyards with our olive trees in the foreground

The vineyards with our olive trees in the foreground

Who would have thought, with this beautiful, serene morning…

That by evening we’d have a huge storm with some of the loudest ‘tonnerre’ (thunder) I’ve ever heard.

It was suddenly POURING with rain in the strangest directions, the rain lashing at the window before me while I was chopping at the kitchen bench and Lilas asked me if I thought we’d have an ‘inondation’ (flood).

‘Umm, I don’t think so sweetie!??!!!’  .Not necessarily such a big exaggeration either.  We had a huge flood in the Minevois in 1999, and I’d only been explaining it to her a few days earlier.

Pretty strange weather, but hopefully not that strange.

last night 1

looking over at the neighbour's last night

path leading up to the Montagnes Noires

It didn’t flood,  but we had about 30mm of water.  Not a great thing for the vines at this time of year.  The grape bunches are now so big and  beautiful – and almost there!  It’s humid too, so not a great combination.  The last thing the vineyards want is to rot.

Our friend at dinner last night mentioned the story of a vineyard in Burgandy, where she witnessed a helicopter hovering over a rain-drenched vineyard, fanning it dry!  Those Burgundians.

last night 3

looking over to the neighbours' houses in our hamlet

last night 5

...it's starting to clear at least

Not quite the decadence of Burgandy here.  Benji’s hoping for some good old fashioned wind and keeping the ‘soucis’ (worries) at bay with a little night poker!

poker

poker night chez nous

I’ll be back later with the checklist of what they drank!…

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