28 January, 2002

While we wait for the statistics

We are a bit in the waiting for the statistics of the total sale of champagne in 2007. It does look like the biggest party in the world.

The first official numbers, I have seen (Agreste-statistics of the Ministry of Agriculture), mention the export in the first 10 months of 2007. They show a growth of eight percent compared with 2006.

The average price of export bottles grew an extra five percent. The prices of grapes grew as well, but this raise has hardly been sent to the customers yet.

The very good sales of champagne these last years is amongst others linked with growth on new or recent markets like Russia, India and Japan.

Despite a succes in the sales, that could in fact dry out the smaller caves, at least the small winegrowers don't really want to push it and put up their prices. Even they are already at least 10 euros below the prices of the bigger and more well known brands.

Traditionnally the biggest sale of champagne in a year takes place in the last quarter with purchases of bottles for Christmas and New Year.

Tears in December

I saw no tears in the vines in December, but I have just read that they actually did appear at places. The tears - les pleurs - are the sap, that normally long ago has transformed itself from the omnipresent and liquid pantry of the vine to a thicker, viscous protection against the frost, that stays in the lower regions of the plant.

Of course the unusually warm autumn must have had some consequences, also for the vineyards, and also in Champagne.

Pruning before the leaves
It was late before all leaves of the vines had finally fallen in 2006.

So late in fact, that many began to prune the vines, while there were still leaves left on the plant. Normally you wait until all leaves are gone.

But it can be necessary to start, if you have a lot of work through the entire resting period of the plants. There will be some days where you cannot work due to frost, so you cannot afford to loose time, even the leaves are still there.

Temperature and rest
The month of November passed with temperatures as high as 18 degrees Celsius. A time of the year where you are more likely to expect white frost on the windscreen of your car in the morning.

It is interesting to consider, which effects it may imply for the restoration of the plant, supposed to take place while the plant lies dormant in winter. Is this period shortened, when the weather gets warmer? How much more warmth does it take to change things as they are today drastically? How much warmth or how short a rest does it take, before you can measure it on the quality and amount of grapes?

I find these questions very interesting. So far I have not really seen much discussion of such subjects, but I am quite sure, that there must be people out there, who investigate these matters. In another 10 years or 20 years the consequences could be far reaching. Since Champagne is a wine area, that can actually afford to pay for research, I suppose, there must be some. Somewhere.

Strange weather in 2006
Most people seem to agree that 2006 offered unusual weather. Also those people who have spent time to check the annals to compare with old collections of weather data. People, who have much more statistical material to document their sayings than for instance I do. I have only lived in Champagne for three and a half years, and I hardly know what normal and extraordinary weather is in this place. For me normal weather is still Danish weather.

But I am interested in the parameters, that help me to take bearing of the normality of this place. I talk with people, of course, and I follow the amount of stories in the local and other papers. And l'Union for instance has written a lot of the very destructive hailstorms of last summer.

Before the heatwave, that brought these wild thunderstorms, we had a cold spring. I still wore my big wintercoat on the 1st of May. Only in the second part of June it got warm. The heatwave was replaced by something that felt like a repetition of the big flood of the Bible in August. And then September came with gentle sunshine, just enough to mature the grapes and pick them under the sun. Since came this very mild autumn, that only in late December changed to real frost for a short while.

Global warming
The global warming must be one of the hottest topics of these times. How it influences the cycle of the vines in Champagne, I guess is still not very clear. That is until science puts undeniable proof on the table. I just note, that the Dame Nature without doubt has held a rather unusual hand in 2006.

One of them the tears in December. Though - according to the latest edition of Le Vigneron Champenois - there has been no signs of plants actually waking up.

We have only started to prune in 2007, and we have not even seen the shade of any sap. Which suits us fine, we'd rather be without on this side of March.

På dansk

Copyright: The copyright for text and photos at bobler.blogspot.com belongs to Solveig Tange. You may use my articles, photos or parts of them for non-commercial use and if I am credited as the author. Feel free to link to this site but not in your own frameset please.

Read more about global warming in France here (in French) and here (in French as well).

27 January, 2002

White sunday

Posted by Picasa
Vines dressed up in winter white in Loisy-en-Brie this Sunday morning.

White frost at the vines, as we arrived to prune our Meunier-plants this morning.

One hour later the sun had melted all the winter white away. The rays of the sun have power. We feel, how they warm. I even put sun creme on my cheeks now.

Posted by Picasa

26 January, 2002

Foire in Loire

In one and a half week the Salon des Vins de Loire takes place in the city of Angers. In the wine exibition you will be presented for the wines of the Loire-valley and about 600 of their producers.

There are also a few competitions. One of them about the best
wineblog in the categories winegrower, foreign language and producer from the Loire.

Now, the third categori I will leave alone, since I live in Champagne anyway. I fit better in one of the two first categories as a winegrower and blogjournalist. So I will give it try. That is, if I can find out how. Since they do not mention how you participate. Maybe it is a closed show after all?

Approximately 9000 professionnal guests, 1200 of them foreigners, normally visit the fair, says Laurent Le Sager, general commissioner at the salon, according to the January 25th-edition of La Journée Vinicole.

På dansk

Copyright: The copyright for text and photos at bobler.blogspot.com belongs to Solveig Tange. You may use my articles, photos or parts of them for non-commercial use and if I am credited as the author. Feel free to link to this site but not in your own frameset please.

25 January, 2002

Hammer and the big shears

Posted by Picasa

Posted by Picasa

Alain and David change posts and destroyed wires in the new plot.
Posted by Picasa

Alain and David have used a good part of the light hours of last weekend to remove 100 old and rusty iron posts and replace them with new ones.

Kilometres of wires must be changed as well. It is pure hell to do it at this time before the vines are pruned, because old branches are entangled criss-cross. Today they therefore only change the most necessary wires, that is the broken ones.

The rest will be changed after all the vines are pruned and before the time of attaching, since the bottom wire is necessary at this time.

Denne trillebør med monteret hjul er i brug, når wirerne skal skiftes.
Posted by Picasa

The pruning will continue this Sunday, if weather allows it. Right now it is so cold, that most of the people around have temporarily stopped to prune. At minus two degrees Celsius, it is excactly so cold, that the frost may damage the vines.

That is if you let it in, via the wound that the secateur leaves a short while of a day or two after pruning. Then it heals and - as the rest of the plant - it stands frost as low as minus 15 degrees Celsius.

These days many either stay at home or do other jobs such as collecting the cut-off branches and stems like one of our neighbours was busy doing yesterday.

We are not really collecting anything since I have not worked on the possibility of transporting the stems to Denmark to sell as firewood for the high-end BBQ's of the summer. We still have a big heap from last year's pruning, that we never succeeded selling, so we are not excactly eager to collect more this year, before we have gotten rid of some.

På dansk

Copyright: The copyright for text and photos at bobler.blogspot.com belongs to Solveig Tange. You may use my articles, photos or parts of them for non-commercial use and if I am credited as the author. Feel free to link to this site but not in your own frameset please.

23 January, 2002

The diploma

Posted by Picasa

I have received my diploma. This is what it looks like.

It is the physical proof that I am now a certified pruner of the vines. What a delight. After a course of 10 Thursdays followed by half a day of exams last spring in front of a jury whose good-will I could not complain about, I still think that I actually did learn how to prune. But I will send a kind thought their direction anyway.

A matter for the president
It was the president of the independent winegrowers of Verzy, Laurent Bouy, who presented the paper yesterday at the yearly party of the winegrowers, the Saint-Vincent. At the same occasion I made sure to get it properly baptised.

Both Alain and I were rather unprepared of the course of the party, since we participated in the vin d'honneur for the first time. We learned that apart from the diploma followed by a handshake of the president holders of new diplomas like ourselves are also presented with a proper shower of the new wine, properly served in the long glasstubes, that are used to taste the new wine straight from the vat. You are served so gently with the tube, that you better swallow fast.

Posted by Picasa

Posted by Picasa

Posted by Picasa

I never understood whether it was my own task to indicate a "no thanks" at the nice vigneron, who just wanted to give me a treat. I suppose. If it is so, I have only myself to blame that I simply could not swallow the wine fast enough, and therefore had my shirt thoroughly baptised as well. And I should be even further irrigated.

A circle of the locals
After this more official opening a couple of hundred guests or more went to the cheerful continuation. On top of a number of tables, constructed by old wooden casks and decorated and lit with candles, were placed a promising circle of local cuvées, bigger and smaller, known and unknown. All we had to do was to start tasting.

Posted by Picasa

Once again I found - as long as it was still possible to taste properly that is - that also in Champagne not all gold will glitter. We drank both big and wellknown brands, whose cuvées contain wine from Verzy, but it was a local and small winegrower whose champagne eventually was just so much better than anything else. According to my taste anyway.

A nothing less than incredibly wonderful brut. Just for fun I passed his house this morning, and I was not very surpried to see his collection of mentions in various wine guides, amongst them Hachette. This champagne is simply too good to keep a secret.

Another - small grower, but big in Verzy - may have been interesting. I was hardly able to taste anything anymore when it finally arrived in my glass. At this time my taste buds had reached the state of just about not-existing. Around the same time my oratorical gifts and great sense of humour peaked ;-D.

Back in our house to share a lunch within the family, it seemed a bit too cheerless to accompagny the food with only wine, so we opened another bottle of champagne. But really the time to swallow yet another bubbly was over. Noone could contain more. So we ended the Saint-Vincent with a lot of water anyway and a hardly touched millésime of the Côte des Blancs in the fridge. Noone can complain about anything but lack of capacity.

In English

Copyright: Ophavsretten til tekst og billeder på bobler.blogspot.com tilhører Solveig Tange. Mine artikler, billeder eller dele af dem må ikke gengives andre steder, uden at jeg fremstår som forfatteren. Du er velkommen til at linke, sålænge du ikke åbner i eget framesæt.

22 January, 2002

Saint Vincent

Posted by Picasa

We have participated in the Saint Vincent procession of Verzy. The most comforting experience of the day was definitely to see how much these young and elder winepeople like their own vin clair. That is, the still wine they will use for champagne later this year.

They are happy to distribute samples of their know-how too, and that is one of very few opportunities you will get to actually taste the still wine of Champagne, before it is fermentated for the second time to rise again as champagne.

Though it does require that you are able to swallow fast. Since they aren't greedy with their wine. I don't know how much the glasstube contains... but enough to make you drink and swallow fast at the same time to avoid having your scarf soaked.

Posted by Picasa

Posted by Picasa

The cask contains wine made of grapes from the last vendange of Verzy, that is the 2006. At the Saint Vincent-day, this patron saint of the vines will be carried through the village, from the church, passing the square in front of the mairie and all the way to the cooperative, where quite cheerful amounts of local champagnes wait to be surved after the procession part.

Posted by Picasa

The baton of Saint Vincent, followed by the brioche of the baker. You better eat lots of it, if you want to be able to do anything at all after the party.

The procession is led by a group of winegrower's children, dressed in blue coat, black cap and white apron for the boys and the traditionel bonnet and matching skirt for the girls. The bonnet is very big to protect the women working in the fields against the sun.

På dansk

Copyright: The copyright for text and photos at bobler.blogspot.com belongs to Solveig Tange. You may use my articles, photos or parts of them for non-commercial use and if I am credited as the author. Feel free to link to this site but not in your own frameset please.

21 January, 2002

Master of the cordon

The cordons in Loisy-en-Brie have an incredible amount of useless stems. Here is one under instead of on top of the cordon.
Posted by Picasa

It takes me a full day to work myself through 100 metres of vines. My speed is quite steady, it seems. I measure against the row I did last weekend, and I note, that I make it just about as far today as I did excactly one week ago. So I consider this as my current level when I practise the secateur and the big scissors whilst rolling on my little bench on wheels.

My impression of the plants in the plot, we just took back, is rather miserable. Just about nothing seems just close to normal. The cordons are pitifull, the shoots so fragile that they seem to be able to break for nothing. And should there - alas - be some good stems with a solid thickness of about that of a (well, okay, my) thumb, it will definitely be placed in a way, where I cannot really make use of it. It will typically occur on an extra cordon, that I must eliminate to bring these vines back to something that at least resembles the rules of the INAO.

Renewal from the ground
We have decided to cut our way all through the illegalitie. So you will not find more than one cordon - the old branch - when my secateur is finished with a vine. Unless of course it is a double that will typically cover the space of a dead plant. This is renewal from the very ground, just about as much as it gets without excactly replanting. Which by the way makes the next grapeharvest come to my mind.

I can do 100 metres of vines in one (full) workday now.
Posted by Picasa

Since for many of these sadly looking vines it is sort of hard to imagine that there will be any yield to pick. Maybe one grape here, another there.

I can see that I do not prune many of the fertile coursons - the short branches on top of the cordon. Well, they are supposed to be placed on top. But here I have to stick to a more personal, practical interpretation of the rules, since I in many cases are not able to prune any coursons if I cannot do illegal ones, and still we do like to get at least some grapes.

Koncentration of sap
The idea of this very thorough shaving is - apart from moving our way back towards the rules of the region - also to bring back the plant to a condition where it spends its energy in a better way.

To concentrate the power means that I remove all wood that is not necesseary. Only stems that will be fertile next season are interesting. And then of course on top of that the little rachet at the bottom of the stem. This is where you hopefully will get the material you need to grow a new cordon when necessary.

The crazy tangle of stems, that often exist on these vines, is more than anything the proof of bad maintainment. If you take well care of your vines, you will for instance remove unnecessary buds in spring to avoid that the plant spends energy on growing useless stems, that are not fertile anyway. Last year no one found such as walk important in these rows, that is very visible.

I have found quite a few rotten grapes left on the stems, I remove. I wonder. It is more than hard to believe that there has been a surplus of grapes in a plot, where the plants look like these. These grapes may also have matured after the vendange, of course. We will know more next September.

This almost hopeless tangle of stems is supposed to look like...
Posted by Picasa

...this horizontal stem with prolongement and coursons.
Posted by Picasa

In English

Copyright: Ophavsretten til tekst og billeder på bobler.blogspot.com tilhører Solveig Tange. Mine artikler, billeder eller dele af dem må ikke gengives andre steder, uden at jeg fremstår som forfatteren. Du er velkommen til at linke, sålænge du ikke åbner i eget framesæt.

Too old or just too good?

At first I felt rather stupid, as I realized that all other utterances said that the hour of the Vertueux will soon have struck, and that it must be drunk now. Otherwise it will be too old, they said. Alain agreed.

I didn't hear them. On the contrary I liked it, even a lot. I normally like it too. Just not that much. Which I said, of course, and in a way nobody could avoid to hear.

So I actually found it rather tiresome later to learn, that I was rather alone with that opinion. When I stopped bending my neck and thought a bit more about it, I decided to straighten my back anyway. Honestly, who decides, what tastes good? He - or she - who drinks of course.

Not Parker or any other guru, even they must have lots of followers without their own taste, own opinions. There are just too many lesser known people - wine critics, blog writers and so on - that quite funnily more or less 100 percent share the same opinions about what is great. I personnally find it very hard to believe that people have so similar tastes in champagne, the field I know the best.

Taste in a nutshell after all is: One hates, what the other ones loves, and the other way around. I certainly don't always understand why customers want this or that bottle, but they buy again and again. I suppose they must like it then, and I would never ever even think of telling them my taste. Unless they ask.

By the way nobody at the coop table corrected my taste. Quite nice. Since I probably at this state would have felt rather inferior. Even I have my own taste, I may not want to stand out that much.

20 January, 2002

Preparation of our stocks

Posted by Picasa
This weekend we decided, what we want in the bottles, we expect to sell under our own names in a few years.

It is the wine from the latest grapeharvest and from the plot in my name.

I am still so new in this business, that I'm completely fascinated, when I read - black upon white - how many hectolitres of wine, the coop has pressed from the grapes, we picked late August 2007. And of course the number of bottles needed.

Posted by Picasa
Our biggest seller is the standard brut, so we ordered most of that. But we do sell both the Vintage Blanc de blancs and the two different rosé champagnes also, so we have to consider them as well. I'm not even sure, we have ordered enough of the vintage.

On top of this the coop plans a new assemblage. It contains 30 percent red grapes instead of the usual 10 percent in the standard brut. I often like champagnes with the more powerful touch, given by more Pinot-grapes, so we decide to give this one a little try as well.

It is a qualified shot in the dark, since I have not really kept any statistics on how our sales during these last years spread out. Still qualified since I after all more or less now which and how many bottles people tend to buy.

These bottles will be stocked to mature at least 15 months - the vintage at least three years - before they are ready to sell. Tirage will take place in the beginning of March, so the bottles will not be ready before the end of 2009.

No problem. Since we won't have our own labels this year anyway. But we may still have a chance for 2009..

19 January, 2002

No sugar of course

"Now I can get drunk and watch my figure at the same time! Cheers!"

It may not be one of the most convincing points from an article, I read recently, about champagne with absolutely no sugar added. But it is still a point.

Champagne with no sugar, you may ask? For whatever champagne is or is not - generally speaking anyway - it is normally far away from anything like sweetness. One of the characteristics of champagne is the freshness, that historically was due to the fact that the grapes simply did not mature in this northern region. Therefore sugar was added. And it is not even all.

Dosage of sugar and wine
At the time of the proces called dégorgement - that is the moment where you replace the temporary plastic capsule with the final cork and muselet - you add the liqueur de expédition just before the cork is put for good.

This liqueur is a blend of sugar and wine of your own choice. It is used to adjust the final taste of the champagne. After the second fermentation there will not be as much as a gram of sugar left in the bottle.

When it - 200 years ago - became fashionable to drink champagne, the beverage was even sweet, and that would certainly not have been possible without adding sugar.

It was Jeanne Alexandrine Louise Pommery - the grand old lady of the brand Pommery - who as something very new, very courageous and just about unbelievable in the end of the 19th century introduced the brut with a much lower content of sugar than ever seen before in the English market.

Brut - a matter of sugar
A bottle of brut cannot contain more than maximum 15 gram of sugar per litre. Much less than the sweet champagne - the doux - that contains more than three times as much (50 gram sugar per liter).

The brut' became so popular, that 95 percent of the sales today has this grade of sweetness.

The English however want their champagne even drier. The last ten years a relatively new type of champagne, that does not contain any sugar at all, has begn to emerge.

The wild brut
This type is typically sold under names such as ultra brut, brut sauvage or brut zéro.

Such champanges can be on the sour side, if they are drunk too young, and quite a different story, if they have aged well and enough. To put it in other words - if you want to try one of these less-sugar champagnes, you'd better consider buying a bottle that is not the youngest one around.

The ultra brut-champagnes still make up only a very small part of the total sales, but they are growing fast, the technical director of CIVC, Dominique Moncomble, said to the French newsagency AFP in October last year. (Read the story here).

Bollinger, Ayala (owned by Bollinger), Piper Heidsieck and Laurent-Perrier are amongst the big producers of champagnes with no sugar in their assortment.

På dansk

Copyright: The copyright for text and photos at bobler.blogspot.com belongs to Solveig Tange. You may use my articles, photos or parts of them for non-commercial use and if I am credited as the author. Feel free to link to this site but not in your own frameset please.

18 January, 2002

False bubbles

A magnum for a price between seven and 15 euros each. It ought to sound to good to be true, which is excactly what it is.

Tens of thousands of bottles with cheap plonk had been sold though, before the authorities in Lille in Northern France got wind of the fraud and began to investigate the doings of 21 persons regarding what turned out to be false discount fizz and not champagne.

Bought in supermarkets
The enterprising persons simply bought magnum bottles with cheap bubbly in big supermarkets, replaced the label with their own and sold the bottles for between five and ten times the prices they paid themselves.

The magnum bottles are closed with the same cork as true champagnes, whereas the most common size of bottle, the 75 centiliters, is closed with plastic capsule. Which is why the swindlers only sold the big bottles.

The heavy fist of justice
Madame Justice places her fist heavily when people play this kind of tricks on her. A winegrower from Montagne de Reims felt that this summer.

According to our local paper l'Union, the guy made his own illegal wine round the authorities and round the cooperative, where he delivers his quota of grapes.

The fraud cost him three months in prison, confiscation of the illegal 2500 bottles and a penalty of 80.000 euros.

Minimum 20 euro
If we return to the fraud in Lille, a magnum bottle normally never cost less than 20 euros. So if you were amongst the customers that had a magnum offered for just seven, it should have been possible to see through the fraud.

Our own magnum sells for about 25 euros.

På dansk

Copyright: The copyright for text and photos at bobler.blogspot.com belongs to Solveig Tange. You may use my articles, photos or parts of them for non-commercial use and if I am credited as the author. Feel free to link to this site but not in your own frameset please.

17 January, 2002

The guy from Vertus has matured

Posted by Picasa
Le Vertueux refers to the Medieval poet Eustache Deschamps, which is also the name of our coop champagne brand. Eustache was born in Vertus, and the font of the label has been created to look like his handwriting.

Today's rather interesting tasting of the vin clairs from the harvest of 2007 ended at the big board and tasting table of the coop with two cold bottles from the big cave.

"Le Vertueux" is the prestige bottle of the moment. It is also - I happen to think - a visually rather successfull champagne. The content is 100% Chardonnay-grapes from 1999, og they've really done some interesting talking inside that nicely engraved bottle since I had it last time.

It is the millésime, that has evolved since I tasted it the first time in the end of 2004. Just before we left for Paris to present it at an exhibition for Danish winegrowers. In those days I found it rather severe. Some buyers have found too much like a white wine. Others have been really excited about it, and through the years we have sold rather many bottles of it.

Now is the top of it, and I really like what I taste from these heights. The next millésime from the cooperative will probably be the vintage of 2001.

16 January, 2002

Possible model for other AOC's

Champagnes little plots are due to the historical development of the region.
Posted by Picasa

Champagne is not like the other wines. The work of growing, making and selling the wines is organized completely different than in the other French AOC's. These - many of them in deep crisis - should allow themselves to be inspired, suggests the newspaper Economie Matin in a theme about champagne, that was published just before Christmas.

In Champagne the vignerons own and cultivate most of the land (85 percent), whilst the champagnehouses make, market and sell most of the champagne (70 percent). With this organization, everybody can concentrate on his strong points, the reasoning goes.

Multitude of AOC's
The other big wine regions of France typically consist of anything from a few AOC's all the way to a multitude of different appellations (Appellation d’Origine Controlée). Champagne has just three: Champagne, Rosé de Riceys and Coteaux Champenois. And 90 percent of the champagnes originate from just 100 big brands from the champagnehouses.

The AOC-system and its many producers can be hard to understand with its many geographical names and producers. It can also be quite challenging for smaller producers to grow the vines, make the wine, market and finally sell it.

In Champagne some of the reasons why the work is organized differently are simply historical. Once upon a time the plots were dealt with by peasants.

Champagnes small plots
Penniless they were. In those days it was not rewarding to grow grapes on the Northern limit of where it is possible at all, on a bigger scale anyway: An annual average temperature of 10 degrees Celsius is the minimum, and here in Champagne we are just above that.

It was the privilege of the monasteries to make the wine and later the champagne. A system that ended with the French Revolution in 1789.

The land that had belonged to nobility and church was confiscated and sold. Not to the poor peasants though, they could hardly afford food and needed every sous they could find to eat. But already established houses such as Ruinart bought land. And indeed many of the biggest houses have established themselves in those years around the revolution. Also peasants with some land could buy. Since then plots have been divided each time heritage was shared, thus creating the tiny almost 300.000 plots of today's Champagne.

The first AOC
Only in the 20th Century - when champagne became the first of about 400 AOC's - it was legalized that only grapes grown in this area could be used to make champagne. But for the small winegrowers it remained more connected with hard work than good money to grow grapes here in the major part of last century.

So for historical reasons the winebusiness is differently organized here, which may-may not add to the success. But if so, champagne is certainly not the only industry, that has made it to the top, by concentrating on its bigger talents and leaving the smaller ones for somebody else.

But I wonder if you can transfer such parameters to other areas. But of course everybody is free to be inspired.

På dansk

Copyright: The copyright for text and photos at bobler.blogspot.com belongs to Solveig Tange. You may use my articles, photos or parts of them for non-commercial use and if I am credited as the author. Feel free to link to this site but not in your own frameset please.

Winegrower knocks down journalist

A source yesterday knocked down a journalist in the entrance hall at the local newspaper l'Unions offices in downtown Reims. The violator, a winegrower, is now remanded in custody.

Usually Patrick Bourson mainly performs in the paper, when he is mentioned because of his friendship with far right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen. Last week a theft at Bourson was described by Jean-Francois Scherpereel in an article, where the word "dodgy" was used. Apparently Patrick Bourson did not like this.

The story is so unusual, that it today travelled around in wine media like Decanter.com.

The next part of the story will take place in court.

14 January, 2002

Freestyle meets Cordon

A Cordon de Royat just about excactly as it should be. Loisy-en-Brie, January 13th.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday afternoon we both spent in the vines, and that made me realize at least one thing. I actually did learn to prune the vines, when I followed the pruning course last spring. I even still remember the main principles of the art.

Very satisfactory, and quite practical as well, since we this year have a new plot and with that, double the amount of vines to prune. And the new vines are in a quite different and more miserable state than the old ones.

Very picturesque with this multi-amount of old stems. But not correct at all..
Posted by Picasa

The best word to characterize the new plot seems to be: Exciting.

The former tenant has invented - so it seems - his own way of pruning. Most of all it looks like a kind of combination between the two most common styles: The Cordon de Royat and the Chablis.

For a start our target is to approach a correct Cordon de Royat.

Approaching the theory
In the vines - and least of all in this one - you are rarely very close to the theory. And as I sit on my little bench on wheels it is not incredibly present in my head anyway.

Concentration and cut-cut-cut.
Posted by Picasa

As I catch the scissors from my pocket to start pruning, it all gently slides back into my mind. Like an oldfasioned locker for a Danish bicycle - in out in and so on - or a piece of music. Once you have learned it by heart, you better not start to think about what you are doing. You let the fingers take over, and will be fine. If not you have all chances not to remember the next step.

Pruning the vines is also a lot easier when you sit in front of the plants and use your methology without thinking too much. You check your plant, and then you let your brain and fingers take over without thinking too much. The rachet in the bottom for the renewal of the plant, then the prolongement in the end of the old, horizontal wood, the cordon and finally the possible number of fertile coursons. (Prolongement is fertile as well).

The most complicated job is to decide which elements in this mess you want to dismiss for good. Many of these vines have two or even more cordons. Often they are both in a miserable state. Very thin and fragile and with branches that seem very easy, far too easy to break. But if you have nothing good, you must try to select the least bad of the two.

Another problem, that is very frequent with these cordons, is that far too many stems have been allowed to grow. This means, that there are many and even strong branches at places where you really do not want them. You only keep stems that have a purpose for the production of grapes or as a renewal of the cordon. The rest should have been removed already when the buds became visible in spring last year. But they were not. This is one way of many to tell you, whether a tenant or owner of vines cares for what he is doing. In this region anyway.

Rotten grapes and small and bigger branches must be removed. Only little will remain. That is the aim.
Posted by Picasa

It is not everything that is wrong though. For some reason there is a lot less of the Esca, that we unfortunately have seen and still see a lot in the other plot. Some conditions must be different and less fortunate for the development of the disease here.

Not monotone
To prune vines is a great occupation. I am still 100 percent convinced of that. Of course it is incredibly monotone to do same thing over an over again. 5.000 plants, one done 4.999 to go, up the row and down the row. But I guess since we can only work in the weekend, I never quite see it this way.

Not two plants are the same, so the pruning never becomes automatic. You need to concentrate to be able to do the right thing for the particular plant you are working with.

You spend your day outside, hear the wind whistle, the birds scream. Your main problem is to keep warm. But since we have almost 10 degrees Celsius this Saturday, I can stay several hours in the field, before my toes refuse to stay longer in the wellingtons.

Alain in front of a row of pruned vines.
Posted by Picasa
Half a day of pruning reveals a couple of other things. One is that I actually have managed to obtain a methological way of pruning. This makes the job much more simple. On top of that my speed is quite okay for a beginner like myself. I am not able to finish all 100 meters of the first row in an afternoon, but I prune about one plant in five minutes, and manage to work myself a fair deal away from the starting point. Which is not bad at all.

We will continue in a week.

På dansk

Copyright: The copyright for text and photos at bobler.blogspot.com belongs to Solveig Tange. You may use my articles, photos or parts of them for non-commercial use and if I am credited as the author. Feel free to link to this site but not in your own frameset please.