27 May, 2002

Blooming vines

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Chardonnay in flowers, Loisy-en-Brie.

Our vineyards are in flowers. It means that we now can make a good guess about a probable date for the grapeharvest. It follows an average of 94 days after the blossoms.

My guess is therefore around August 20th. Five days after August 15th, which was the date mentioned by the CIVC a while ago.

Vines never bloom all at the same time. We saw the very first flowers at the feet of our plants only last weekend, two weeks after the first flowers were reported to the CIVC. This weekend at least half of the plants bloom, and the flowers are situated everywhere.

Since I don't know precisely when the flowers began, I choose to add 90 days on top of saturday. Thus I arrive at week 34, that begins with the 20th.

The weather is far from good. While the period of blooming is on, we wish for warm, dry and rather quite weather to ensure as good a pollination as possible. Instead we get lots of wind, storms here and there with hail and cool temperatures around 15 degrees Celsius.

"It's never good, when the vines bloom in May," goes the favourite quote of Alain at the moment. He heard it from some old farmers - that is people with experience - we shall see.

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Meunier in flowers, Loisy-en-Brie.

25 May, 2002

Something special for mummy

Mummy's day is in the pipeline in France. A great commercial opportunity, that will be celebrated by many and for good reason, since French women - and not the least mothers - manage the unbelieveable . Amongst others:

  • They work. Many hours. 35 hours-workweek mainly concerns the public employees.
  • They get a lot of kids. (France is the only country in Europe, where the number of children born and old people dying almost balance).
  • They look after the family, house, laundry and food. What you need to run a family.
  • They even look good: Follow the fashion, stay slim, balance their high heels and care for their husbands.

    The current Mother's day according to www.joyeuse-fete.com was named after World War I to help repopulating France. By law it is appointed to the last sunday in May. If Whitsun is the same day, Mother's day move to the first sunday of June. (Mother's Day wiki)

    You can celebrate mummy in several ways: Flowers of course. Or beautiful lingerie, perfume or champagne. The house of Pannier has imagined a very special partnership for the big day: The bubbles are pink, of course, and for reasons past (my) understanding they are accompagnied by a MP3-reader in the colours of the house. Mummy is modern, you see.

    Daddy has his own day too. June 18th.
  • 20 May, 2002

    Flowering has begun

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    The first flowers of the Chardonnay and Meunier-vines in Loisy-en-Brie.

    We have seen the first vine flowers of this year. Both the Chardonnay and the Meunier-vines had the small and rather unimpressive flowers this weekend. The yellowish flowers were found only at the feet of the plants. Always first, when it comes to the earliest developped buds as well as the flowers later in the cycle.

    This means three things:

  • We expect to see all the blossoms during the next week and a half. After this point we will probably harvest the grapes about 94 days later.
  • Our manual work should stop during the period of flowering to give the best possible conditions for a good pollination.
  • We hope intensively to have good weather without rain and too much wind. This washes away the magic dust, that otherwise turns into grapes.

    Maybe we can even have what the French call a fat morning - matin gras - next weekend.
  • Everything has been lifted (I)

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    The double thread is lifted and placed on the first hook of each iron post.

    All vines have now been lifted in our two plots of Meunier-vines just outside the village of Loisy-en-Brie in Champagne, France.

    We have been so far behind, that we have tried to cover three - at least two - tasks at once.

    Three tasks - or two - since we have only done the part of the palissage, that concerns putting small stems, that have grown longer, back between the threads. Later will come the little plastic clips too.

    Because of the work load we have had to choice a rather pragmatic attitude towards the removal of the stems. This means, that we have only removed the stems, that grows with a direction towards the next line of grapes, because these stems soon will make it impossible to walk in the paths, if they are not removed. The rest, that could have been removed too, stays due to lack of time. More about removing the stems here.

    The most important task during these two days was to lift the double thread, and this we made. About time it was: When the stems from one line, begins to twine themselves around the wires of the neighbour line, it is about time to restore order. When you lift the double thread to the first hook, it presses the stems on both sides towards the centre of the plant, which will protect it better against possible damages due to storms.

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    Alain places stems between the double thread.

    The manual part of the job is - apart from lifting - to place stems, that were not caught by the thread back behind the wires. Some have not grown long enough and will have to be put back later, when the double thread will be lifted to the second and last hook. In a week or two. The stems will grow fast, the flowering however may put the work to a break for a week. Read more about palissage here.

    17 May, 2002

    French bubbly

    ...is not just champagne. Price per bottle varies from one euro to 20-30 euros and a lot more. Dont' worry, if you are amongst those who choose the champagne: The world really is fair. You get the quality you pay for.

    Last night we did another part of our winetasting course. The theme of the first part of the evening was French sparklers. We tasted 10 different ones, amongst them two champagnes, some crémants and some others.

    The interesting part of course was whether the tasters - us, almost all working with wine or vines, vignerons, teachers in tasting, one buyer and the apprentice, me - would be able to find the champagnes amongst the others.

    Four ways to make bubbly
    One of the decisive explanations whether a bottle of bubbly cost one or 20 euros is, how the bubbles entered the bottle in the first place. On top of that, add how long the bubbles have spent in the bottle before you'll find it in the shops.

    The bubbles are born in different ways:

    • 1. Vins gazéfies: Still wine with carbonic acid added.
      Example: Some sparkling wines.
    • 2. Cuve close: Still wine, where sugar and yeast is added in a completely closed container. The second fermentation takes place here, and the bubbly wine will be transferred to bottles afterwards.
      Eksempler: Some sparkling wines.
    • 3. Méthode rurale/ancestrale: Orginal method, the bubbles originate from sugar left from the first fermentation, stopped by cold weather. It naturally fermentates for a second time, and the bubbles arrive.
      Examples: Vin de Blanquette, Blanquette de Die, AOC Gaillac.
    • 4. Méthode traditionelle: In Champagne also called Méthode champenoise. Sugar and yeast is added to the still wine, transferred to the bottle, where it fermentates for the second time. The bottle mature: At least 12 months for crémants, at least 15 months for non vintage champagnes and at least 36 months for vintage champagnes.
      Examples: Champagne, Crémant d'Alsace, Bourgogne, Loire, Limoux, Die, Bordeaux and Jura.
    Industrial or traditional The cheapest bottles are produced in an entirely industrial way, made of cheap grapes. The more expensive bottles are made of good grapes and following traditional methods. The choise of method and quality of grapes will reflect in the complexity of the wine, the character of the bubbles and their pleasureness, the length of the taste. The sight itself is almost enough to recognize the cheap and bad wines, that does not have much more colour than plain water. Almost, because in life there is always at least one exception from the rule. A Clairette de Die, that did not get a very warm welcome from the champenois, but it certainly met the requirements you should expect from it, our teacher explained. Since the Clairette de Die is a warm wine (from Southern France) and therefore without acidity and a lot of sugar. You just don't get much further away from what a champagne is sought to be, and that is the overall reference and criteria of succes for the tasters this evening. So, of course they did not appreciate the Clairette de Die at first. The cheaper wines typically mainly smell and taste flowers and fruits (primary notes), and have no traces from the soils, where the vines grow (terroir) or the notes, you achieve in wines, when they fermentate (secondary notes) and mature (tertiary). These you typically find in expensive bottles, the best champagnes and the best crémants. This is also where you find the most pleasant bubbles. The very cheap fizz leaves a sensation similar to soft drinks with alcohol. Sparkling wines that have achieved their bubbles in the ancient way of a naturally occurring fermentation will contain less bubbles and a lower percentage of alchohol. A brut for all of us So, the champagnes were recognized amongst the ten other bottles. But I may reveal that no one felt quite sure, that they would be able to. Also there was quite a bit of doubt about a bottle that turned out to be a Blanquette de Limoux. Champagne or not? It was good, but it was no ordinary bottle, but a special prestige with a maturation of 24 months and - I suppose - grapes that were better than normally. So if you want to do a fair comparison with champagne, you choose a prestige bottle instead of a non vintage with 15 months of maturation. In the end the champagne, that was up against the Blanquette was discovered. The first champagne was even more difficult and generally not very appreciated. It was quite interestingly revealed to be one of the most exported bruts. This particular brand is not so big in France. Personally I found it very uninteresting, but in general there is a very big range in the taste of customers, so I am quite sure, that both bottles eventually find happy and satisfied buyers and tasters. We tried champagne, Clairette de Die, the sparkling wine of the supermarket Leclerc, the sparkling wines of Saumur and Vouvray, Crémant de Bourgogne and d'Alsace and Blanquette de Limoux. List of sparkling wines

    Sparkling wines

    Sparkling wines in France (AOC's):
    • AOC Champagne,
    • Crémant d’Alsace,
    • Saint-Péray mousseux,
    • Gaillac mousseux,
    • Gaillac mousseux méthode gaillacoise,
    • Montlouis-sur-Loire mousseux,
    • Montlouis-sur-Loire pétillant,
    • Vouvray mousseux,
    • Vouvray pétillant,
    • Touraine mousseux,
    • Touraine pétillant,
    • Crémant de Die,
    • Clairette de Die méthode d’élaboration par seconde fermentation en bouteille,
    • Blanquette de Limoux,
    • Blanquette méthode ancestrale,
    • Crémant de Limoux.

    The wines can be either effervescents or pétillants. Champagne and crémant are amongst the first, because their pressure is more than three atmospheres. The pétillants have a pressure between 1,25 and 2,5 atmospheres.

    Another difference between champagne and other sparkling wines is, that you use 160 kilos of grapes to obtain 100 liters of must for champagne. For other sparkling wines you press only 130 kilos of grapes to obtain 100 litres of must.

    15 May, 2002

    Smallest vineyards of France

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    An independent vigneron from Soulières has his plots on the slopes above Vertus in the Côte des Blancs.

    Before her retirement my mother-in-law was well placed in the middle class of the owners of vineyards with her three hectares of vines. The average exploit in Champagne covers just average 2,72 hectares. This tiny acreage makes the exploits of the area to the smallest exploits with vines in France.

    On top of that there is quite a distance between the biggest owners of several hundred hectares of vines and the smallest with less than half a hectare. And actually one third of the owners belong to this small group, another 15 percent owns between half and one hectare. Most owners in these categories are part time winegrowers, the same status as I try to achieve at the moment.

    One third in the middle class
    Another third of the owners have between three and ten hectares. Finally a big fifth - 22 percent - owns more than 10 hectares. In this group some small and big champagne houses can be found. Companies like Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin (LVMH) and Louis Roederer own a lot of hectares.

    We grow a bit more than one hectare ourselves, and therefore we rank between the rather small growers. You normally need at least one hectare before you start to think about making a living from your grapes.

    Our two plots - one for Alain, one for me - are amongst the almost 300.000 plots, that the appr. 32.000 hectares of vines of Champagne are divided into. The exploits of the department of Marne are the smallest with average 2,45 hectares. The plots of departments Aube and Aisne are bigger with average 3,62 hectares and 3,65 hectares.

    The numbers are the latest, official numbers from the Agreste statistics of agriculture from the autumn 2005.

    14 May, 2002

    First lifting

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    The wires are lifted to the first hook.

    The upper plot has been lifted, and we are working in the lower part.

    The temperatures have lowered to a more ordinary level for the month of May - around 15 degrees Celsius, a bit warmer when the sun finds a way through the clouds - the weather forecasts promise unsteady weather. Risk of rain and what is a lot worse: Hail and storms, that are both capable of bad destruction in the vines. Alain has decided to lift the wires to minimize the risk of destruction due to bad weather.

    The oldest of the stems have grown well and are now longer than one meter. They begin to make it more difficult to move in the paths between the plants, as their
    vrilles winds themselves around the wires of the neighbour fence. When they hang freely, they are also more exposed to destruction, by storms or passing of tractors.

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    The double thread is lifted from the ground to the first hook on the posts.

    The vines grow at a fence, constructed in a way, that makes it possible to press the stems towards the centre with a double thread, one on each side of the post. This double thread is hooked unto the post. When the stems in a couple of weeks have grown even longer, we lift the double thread once again to the next and last hook on the post. Finally we place little plastic clips to keep the two threads closely together, which keeps the stems between the thread, just like we want it.

    It is a simple and good system, when used right. That is at the right time, when the major part of the stems are long enough to be automatically lifted by the thread. If they are too short, they must be placed manually afterwards, and of course you want to avoid as much of this manual part as possible.

    Dedicated or just interested readers can compare with the development last year here.

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    Some stems are working their way towards the neighbouring fence, which you want to avoid. The routes must remain easily accessible, since you walk a lot when you work in the vines.

    Frost lamps amidst leaves

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    Lamps to fight frost at Avize in the Côte des Blancs.

    We have seen quite an extraordinary sight lately at the village of Avize.

    These lamps are placed between the vines in very flat plots, that have a high risk of frost. They will be lit in nights with big risk of damage due to temperatures below zero. A risk, that begins when the vines start to grow and continues until about this time in May.

    The completely unusual sight is that you can hardly see the lamps, because the leaves of the vines are so extremely developped for the season, almost covered by stems as is the case this year.

    This is the usual setting of the lamps of frost. The pictures is from March 2005 from another flat field at Avize.

    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.

    11 May, 2002

    Hidden gold of the coops

    In Champagne the major part of 140 cooperatives live a rather quiet life. They often produce genuine champagnes, but they lack the marketing and the experts, needed to make it one step up: Where you find the sublime.

    The coops on the other hand through their members and owners have access to the grapes, that the champagne houses yearn for these days, where the sale of champagne expands year after year.

    This means, that persons with access to money and expertise to develop products and marketing, have a rather interesting potential in the coops here. The grapes are here, if the quality of the final champagne can be increased, so can the price.

    The other day I wrote about the new alliance of Edmond Rothschild with the cooperative "Goutte d'Or" in Vertus.

    It shall be exciting to see, if more similar alliances will pop up, and certainly also what consequences it may get for the deliveries of grapes to the big champagnehouses, that depend on their ability to buy grapes, must and wine from the small growers and the cooperatives.

    A few champagne cooperatives market and develop their products more than average. The first example is Nicolas Feuillatte. A cooperative that in 30 år has developped into an international brand like the old houses. But also De Castelnau and the village ofMailly Champagne here in the Montagne de Reims market and sell own products under the village name all over the world. So there are exceptions, just not that many. Yet.

    Early grapeharvest expected in Champagne

    The grapeharvest in Champagne can begin as early as August 15th this year, says the technical manager of the CIVC, Dominique Moncomble, to the newspaper l'Union.

    Already last week the first flowers were spotted in the Côte de Sézanne. Since then more has joined forces - not yet in our plots though. Normally you get the first hint of a possible start of the vendange by adding 100 days to that of the full flowering.

    If the qualified guess of the manager comes true, it will be a grapeharvest one month earlier than normal. We usually start around September 20th. Never before has there been a grapeharvest so early, as it seems likely this year, according to l'Union.

    Hidden gold of cooperatives

    In Champagne almost all of the 140 cooperatives live a very quiet life, sales- and marketingwise. Many produces genuine products, but they rarely have the marketing and experts necessary to reach sublime quality at their disposal.

    The cooperatives on the other hand - through their members - have what the champagnehouses yearn for these times, where the sale of champagne just grows and grows: Access to a lot of grapes. Those who decide to spend some of their money in Champagne to develop products and marketing, are bound to have great opportunities to increase quality and profit of cooperative champagnes quite a bit.

    The other day I wrote about Edmond Rothschilds recent alliance with the cooperative "Goutte d'Or" in Vertus.

    It will be exciting to see, if there will be more of these co-operations, and also which impact it could get for deliveries of must and quiet wines to the big champagnehouses. The latter depend on the posibilities to buy most of their raw materials from small winegrowers and cooperatives.

    A few champagne cooperatives market and develop their products more than the average. The obvious example is Nicolas Feuillatte, who in 30 år has developped into a brand like the champagnehouses. Mailly Champagne is a village cooperative in the village of the same name. It markets and sells its products around the world as well. So the exceptions exist, there are just not that many. Yet.

    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.

    09 May, 2002

    Cave sounds

    Long, long corridors. Many. Kilometers of sparse light and moist air. It feeds mushrooms, it covers walls with a soft and maybe even sound insulating layer. It gives me the creeps, but I can't help a touch anyway. If not, how would I know? So my fingers feel the indulgence of the otherwise hard wall at my searching pressure. Like a sponge. Though this spunge grow at walls of underground galleries, where millions of champagne bottles lie neck against neck to grow better and better. Dead yeast joins the wine in holy matrimony. A wine, that has already fermentated once more than the ordinary. Spins a yarn, ties together, this is where the good champagne begins. So of course these endless corridors are special. Their sound as well. With acoustics, that despite the kilometers, transfer the words of a speaker so easily into my ear as did he stand right next to me rather than many meters away. As he becomes silent, everything grows silent, around him, around me, again. Even the seemingly soundless has its own and other sounds, that some students from the school of art and design of reims may or may not have captured on their tapes as they the other day recorded the sounds of the universe of the caves. Maybe their sounds are like mine. Maybe I will look for the answer. Maybe I will instead imagine my own system of sounds from the caves, glued together, shortened, faded up or down or repeated into eternity with all the tricks and methods of those who master sound. A game that brings with it the temptation of play. Just like a child and champagne.

    08 May, 2002

    Goodbye to more stems

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    The removal of stems continue in Loisy-en-Brie.

    Alain has been off to the vines again to remove more surplus stems. Four rows were finished until rain made him stop. Only if the situation gets close to desperate he would work under the rain. Read more about removal of stems.

    The weather has changed to more ordinary temperatures for early May. Around 15 degrees Celsius, more clouds, more wind, more rain. Already next week the warm weather may return though.

    We expect to finish the removal of stems in the upper plot and hopefully a good part of the lower plot as well next weekend.

    The last pending job at the moment then is to spray herbicides. The weeds grow happily, though not as much as the vine, that has the first priority.

    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.

    07 May, 2002

    Rothschild moves to Champagne

    A name that sounds richissime as they love to put it in French women's glossies has arrived in Champagne. The Rothschild-company CVBER - Le Centre vinicole Baron Edmond de Rothschild - is about to join forces with the cooperative La Goutte d'Or in Vertus to produce a new brand, writes regional newspaper l'Union.

    Objective: To produce champagne of high quality for exports. For a start 20.000 bottles, later the new compagnons want to raise the number to half a million bottles. Just a drop in the sea, when you compare with the yearly sales of 320 million bottles.

    The new company will have its address in the capital of Champagne, Reims, while the production will remain in Vertus. The name on the future labels has still not been decided. But Baron Edmond Rothschild is amongst the likely possibilities, says l'Union. Not to confuse with the already existing brand, Alfred Rothschild, that belongs to Boizel Chanoine Champagne after this groups purchase of Lanson International one and a half year ago.

    I may as well mention, that we are amongst the 13.000 winegrowers in Champagne, who sells grapes to one of the 140 cooperatives of the region. Ours is "La Vigneronne", also Vertus.

    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.

    06 May, 2002

    Removing the stems

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    We have begun the épamprage - that is to remove the surplus stems of the vines manually - in Loisy-en Brie.

    Status after a sunshine weekend of work:

  • 28 rows of Meunier-vines have been cleaned for surplus stems,
  • more destroyed wires have been temporarily repaired,
  • I have caught some sort of skin eruption, perhaps by the sun,
  • my thighs and knees bid for mercy after one afternoon of work.

    When the vines begin to grow, all the buds, that were invisible in winter, suddenly become very visible. If we had had the time, we could have flicked them off, before they had grown into long stems. During my almost four years in Champagne, we so far never have had the time.

    Instead we must remove the still soft and therefore still rather compliant stems. It is not too late, just a bit more difficult, because the already impressive amount of leaves and size of leaves prevents a good overview, so necessary to be able to separate the important, fertile stems from the nonfertile gourmands.

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    In the beginning of the season the stems are green and soft and easy to remove with the hands.

    So why all this trouble? Well, the objective of most of the manual work in the vines during a year is to balance the plant well to achieve a good balance between the amount of hard wood, leaves and fruits. A sufficient amount of each of these three makes the plant healthy and strong and secures, that the grapes mature in the best possible way.

    Removing the stems
    The removal of stems maintains the amount of leaves and stems, that later develops into hard tree, at a good level. The amount of grapes is already balanced, that is one of the targets of the pruning during the winter.

    "Don't think too much". Alain repeats this over and over again, when we work together in the vines. It slows you down to think too much. But it is not until you really know what you are doing, that your experience moves from the brain into the fingers. But when you have achieved this, it's like driving a car, you work concentrated and rather automatic. The mistakes are more likly to occur once you start to think than when you don't.

    But if I work this way, I'm likely to make mistakes. That's when I remove stems that carry grapes for instance. Very forbidden since we are likely not to have enough grapes to meet our quota of kiloes. There are simply not enough fruits in this plot. So I feel very bad, when I by mistake remove something that would have grown into grapes. New as I am and therefore very, very careful with my every move. But I still make mistakes. You only avoid that if you don't do anything at all.

    The fast way to remove stems is to clean everything on the foot of the plant apart from those on the opposite side of the cordon, the horizontal part of the vine. These are the ones we will need next winter to prune the small rachet at the bottom of the plant This is what you need to renew the plant year after year.

    Tractors give us work
    We work in the upper plot. The rist of frost still bother, but now only a a little bit and not for much longer. But since this field is on a slope, it is less endangered than the lower on flat land. Also we expect - and hope for - more grapes on the lower field, and therefore clean it last.

    Very sad it is to find the wires in the upper plot destroyed - once again. More precisely in the rows, where the tractors pass. The wires are in a poor condition, but now the vines grow, and it is not longer possible to change them. Alain must continue the emergency repairs, that now seem to have become a steady task for the rest of the summer each time a tractor has passed to spread pesticides or insecticides. They stop only one month before the grapeharvest, normally in August.

    Itchy sun
    I spend today with red nose and itchy neck. Despite reparations withh after sun cream and hours before covering all danger spots like nose and neck with sun cream. The itchiness however is a firsttimer, and I wonder why.

    I hope it is due to old creme rather than an allergy to the sun. Since it is somewhat difficult to turn down the big lamp, when you work under it, and in the vines you really catch pretty big doses of whatever weather the day brings.

    Not my legs though, unfortunately wrapped in jeans. Even they really need to see the sun. Today they just want to relax. The vines are only 50 centimeters tall, when you work you either bend over the plant to see the other side of it, or you bend your knees. Both are hard, and I always end up crawling or at times sit on my behind. The problem is that this position makes me move far too slow between the plants.

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    There is a whole range of bad work positions in the vines, also when you remove surplus stems.

    How people are able to work in the vineyards for a lifetime without becoming disabled, is a bigger and bigger mystery to me. There are absolutely no good positions no matter what you do. And the vine-pensioners do admit that it is had, but they're still around. I know several with a great physique even after a long life in the vines.

    I have only a couple of years of experience, and not even full time, so my physique is not hardened. Sole comfort: Alain too was really tired this morning, so even I'm probably the biggest weakling of the family, I'm still not completely alone.

    Pending: One third of the upper plot and the lower, that will demand more work, because it apparently has been pruned less hard, and also the stems are already harder.

    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.

  • 04 May, 2002

    First step on the long road of bureaucracy

    We have just filled an important piece of paper. I have held the pen myself - yes indeed - while Alain told me what to write where in my application for the CIVC to become a parttime winegrower.

    If my application is approved, I will receive a card, that entitles me to sell grapes here in Champagne.

    The new plot, that I will run, is not bound by any contract, and will not be. Our plan is to sell only the amount of grapes, we need to, to finance champagnisation of the rest. That will be the start of our own stocks, that will later hopefully be sold under our own names.

    But first all paperwork must be finished - the big, French bureaucracy must be fed - of course it was due long time ago. I should have applied to be registered already by January 1st. Now we hurry up and hopefully will be on time anyway.

    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.

    03 May, 2002

    30 days ahead

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    The Chardonnay-vines have distinct grapes.

    The vines are early this year. Stubborn as I am, I have steadily repeated my "three-four weeks" for quite a while now. It was based on my own and peoples - you know neighbours, cousins, friends, somebody waiting in the line in the supermarket and so on - observations. Today I asked somebody who actually does know, the technical department of the CIVC.

    The correct answer is 31 days earlier than the average of the last 30 years for the Chardonnay-vines, 20 days ahead for Pinot Noirand 22 days for Meunier-vines.

    And on top of that, the first flowers have been spotted on Chardonnay-vines in the southern part of the AOC-area, the Côte de Sézanne.

    Flowers are still rare
    Flowers however are still rare, and ourselves we are not even close. But what will develop into the yields of the year is clearly visible, as it can be seen on these Chardonnay-vines, grown by Alain's cousin.

    They grow next to our Meunier, that - as always - are not as developped as the Chardonnay, at the village Loisy-en-Brie in Côte des Blancs with a slightly sloping exposure towards the south.

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    Chardonnay at Loisy-en-Brie, May 1st 2007.

    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.

    01 May, 2002

    On and off with the threads

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    Even the Meunier-vines, developped last, grow stems working their way over the top wire of the fences.

    May 1st is bank holiday in France. Not for winegrowers in Champagne in this crazy spring though. Everything is - the frequency of early events more and more notable - one month too early. That is one month before usual.

    Today Alain left to go to put the wires down in the upper plot. They have been placed in the first hook of the iron posts to minimize the risks of the tractor destroying the very vulnerable wires. Vulnerable, because they are very old and need replacement as soon as this is possible.

    The corset of the vines
    The vines grow at a fence, constructed in a way, that makes it possible to press the stems closer to each other on both sides with the help of a double wire, placed in a hook on each iron post.

    But only, when the stems has grown long enough. Until then they can grow like they prefer. Live the happy, free life.

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    The double wire has been placed in the hook, Alain lifts it off to put it on the ground.

    The plants now are so developped, that it soon will be time to trim the top stems. A job that is normally done in June, not the beginning of May.

    On his drive today from Verzy through the Côte des Blancs to Loisy-en-Brie, where our vines grow, Alain saw people working everywhere. Not just weekend growers - like us - but everybody are busy, because the plants with the warm weather grow like crazy.

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    The Chardonnay-plants are very developped, the Meunier a bit slower. Especially our rather sad looking cordons.

    The time of the proces of the ébourgeonnage is long gone, says Alain. The idea is to remove surplus buds, but there are absolutely no buds left. Only stems that already have grown 10, 20 or 30 centimeters. They are still so fresh and green, that they are easy to remove. Very likely the commmon project of next weekend.

    Dedicated or just interested readers can compare the development this year with that of last year here.

    På dansk

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