Chardonnay at Villers-Marmery in the Montagne de Reims.
As late as last week people - the neighbours, the hair-dresser, the priest, grandmother and equally well-informed sources - talked about a grapeharvest to begin around September 20th.
But actually the first winegrowers can start already September 7th. It is the most southernly vines at Sézanne about 40 kilometres more south than ours. Others must wait some more weeks before they can start. The picture thus seems rather diversified when it comes to time.
So far the dates per individual commune are not yet published. We expect to get them tomorrow September 6th at a meeting at the cooperative in Vertus. Only then the last planning of the vendange of 2006 can be finished.
Measuring the grapes
The weather has been really beautiful these last days. Sunshine and 30 degrees Celsius has followed the endless rain of August, and the heat makes the content of sugar in the grapes rise very fast.
Also the botrytis - rot - is on the rise. The CIVC publish a bulletin with the latest measures several times per week, where we can follow the development of the sugar/acidity, the potential alcohol and the botrytis per department. But measurements done in each commune will decide the start date for each commune.
Some winegrowers make their own measurements. An individual person cannot decide when to start, but the difference in maturation can be quite big in the different fields. For instance here in Verzy there is a rather big difference between the grapes on top of the slope and those downhill (last monday 6% uphill and 8% downhill). Therefore you must analyze your grapes to decide where to start and where to end. Simply because the vines more downhill get more sun than those uphill.
Ripe Chardonnay get a dotted skin.
Despite the ever-changing summer - when it comes to weather anyway - despite the violent hail in July, the grapes are in a generally good condition. They are heavy, and there are about 18.000 kilos per hektar. 5.000 kilo more than what will eventually be picked.
The next weeks we will see a massive influx of season workers who will want to pick them.
The hair-dresser is busy already now, she says. Apparently the winegrowers wifes queue up for new hair-styles just before the vendange. To present themselves nicely, I guess, they are hardly to find in the fields with new hair-cuts and colours. Me neither this year... I will have to survive the vendange with my hair old-style... I did not know this thing about going to the hair-dresser. Next year I may be better prepared.
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