September has arrived. Summer is soon saying goodbye, leaves are turning golden brown… and grapes are at last ready to be picked and turned into the beloved liquid we can’t live without: wine.
Here in the Northern Hemisphere, this the month of the Vendanges! Or, if you want to call it this way, it’s time for the harvest – or vintage.
I’m Breno, and today I’m here to give you insights on some French and overall traditions about harvesting and the harvest season.
And that’s not all: I’m also bringing the exclusive four-fold offer that our Wine Club members have just received!
You may ask yourself: why September as the peak of harvest season? Well, for the Northern Hemisphere, it is between August and October – and particularly in the middle of it – that grapes are at their peak sugar and acid levels, ensuring the best conditions to produce the best possible wine (in the Southern Hemisphere, the harvest season is usually between February & April).
Harvesting is one of the most crucial steps in winemaking, and various elements are measured at this point because small choices can produce quite different outcomes.
A couple questions that show just how harvesting affects the whole:
Hand-picked or mechanically harvested? Top-notch producers prefer the human touch to avoid unnecessary damage to the grapes and avoid incorrectly levels of oxidation of the must after the crush, or even simply to better control the stemming.
And what about the ripeness of the grapes: early, ripe or late? This specific decision determines mostly which type of one the producer is aiming for. A tempranillo, a stronger and bold red, a late harvest, a dessert wine? So many options! Picking a few days too early or too late can make a big difference to the intended result.
A matter of tradition and festivities
Harvest festivities are a worldwide classic. The month of the Vendanges is itself a big tradition in France. Starting as early as August, peaking in September, several winemaking regions treat this period as a moment of celebration and hard work.
Towns in French winemaking regions hold traditional festivities at the time and/or in the following months – take the much celebrated Ban des Vendanges de la Jurade de Saint-Émilion, Burgundy’s Fête de la Pressé, Loire’s Festivini, Paris’ Fête des Vendanges de Montmartre, Beaujolais’ Fête du Beaujolais Nouveau…
Harvesting is so popular that, for instance, in Bordeaux’s Saint-Emilion and Médoc, it’s common to see (at least it was before the pandemic!) hundreds of volunteers yearly take part in picking grapes, in exchange of living a unique experience – and enjoy some great meals offered by producers.
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It can be challenging. It can take a whole fortnight of hard work to pick all the grapes if a vignoble is big. Weather conditions can be tough. Indeed, seasonal workers are required to be fit to do the task. But it’s certainly a sacred process.
This whole harvesting world is quite special, isn’t it? Maybe a bit less thrilling with limitations imposed by the contingency measures surrounding Covid-19, but we’re hopeful this will all be solved soon before 2021.
Exclusive offers to celebrate the Vendanges
To celebrate this season, our members’ exclusive offers for this September couldn’t fall far from the tree. Yes: fine and rare wines that celebrate the Vendanges: an exclusive four-fold offer for our members to invest in or have them delivered.
From one of Rhône’s finest, M. Chapoutier, we bring you LE MÉAL Rouge BIO 2017 – a Syrah vintage that speaks for itself, having scored incredible 100 points by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate.
From the heart of the Médoc, we give you the fantastic 1998 2nd Cru from Château Léoville-Poyferré, an elegant red Bordeaux blend rated 91 by Wine Spectator.
Last, but not least, the best Bordeaux blends from Portugal, coming from Principal, in the Bairrada region: Grande Reserva 2008 and Grande Reserva 2009, both vintages with the signature of Pascal Chatonnet and deemed among the finest red wines in the world.
Needless to say… but these wines are all highly age-worthy, great to be cellared for the long term – or work as an alternative investment to be re-sold in the future.
No better way to celebrate harvest season, right? Don’t miss out.
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