I haven’t blogged for ages because I’ve been ashamed. Ashamed to say that almost all of our Carignan has oidium – powdery mildew. As a result the grapes are covered in a nasty looking coating of mould. It’s our fault – we sprayed on schedule for the first couple of months after the first flowers appeared on the vines. But then a combination of rain, wind and ferocious heat led to conditions unfavourable for spraying. Coupled with that Ali and I were sequentially ill and we also had a full B&B season under way. Whilst we were busy welcoming new guests, making beds and breakfasts and cleaning the pool, M. Oidium was make free and easy with our grapes. The conditions were perfect for the weeds to grow, and this only served to trap more moisture around the feet of the vines.
However, today I feel a bit better about it. The lovely Simon from Domaine des Trinités , maker of delicious Faugères wines, came to have a look at our wines from the last harvest. Each time we’ve had them tested at the laboratory the oenologue has said that the malolactic fermentation still hasn’t finished. Simon carried out a few tests on the wines and reckons one will be ready by the end of next week. Then we can rack it off and use the lees from that to spur on the others. Whilst chatting about our problem with oidium, he said that it had been a real problem for lots of people in the area – many people being unable to spray because of adverse weather conditions. I have to say he made me feel a lot less guilty.
Simon also tasted all our wines and said he liked the Grenache so much he’d buy it off us if we were minded to sell – which we aren’t! He also had really favourable comments to make about our other Cinsault, Syrah & Carignan too – although neither he nor I are particularly fond of Carignan.
Meanwhile the healthy grapes are undergoing veraison – the onset of ripening as you can see in the photo above. This is the exciting time when the grapes both swell and begin to fill out the bunch, whilst ripening and making sugars. Although we had a very hot start to the summer and everyone thought we were going to be picking three weeks earlier than usual, the weather has been unseasonally cool at around 25 degrees for the last three or four weeks, with very cool nights. I think it unlikely that our grapes will be ready to pick before the first week of September, which is a week late for us. This is just guesswork really and we won’t be able to make a definitive decision until three or four days before we pick.
Not everything in the vineyard is gloomy though – our potager has been stunning this year thanks to the new watering system and several bouts of overnight rain.
This year the pears have been at their best ever and our Spring volunteers will be delighted to see that the pear tree they released from the clutches of a Pistachier have produced very well too. (Just a fraction of the harvest in the photo below) Pears are picked before they are ripe otherwise they go grainy and mushy if left to ripen on the tree. So now we have to keep them cool for between 2 and 6 weeks until they ripen. If we need them more urgently we can stick some in a bag with a ripe banana to hasten the ripening.