Harvest will be underway in the coming days and weeks, so it's a very busy time in both of our domaines. We always begin the harvest at Château Cazal Viel (in St Chinian), as it is on average 3C warmer at our estate here than in Château Auzines, owing to the higher altitude and subsequent cooler climate at the latter. This longer ripening period makes for fresher reds, which are perfect for our rosé wines, as well as producing our elegant whites from Albarino and Chardonnay.
Harvest usually begins with Chardonnay from around the Cazal Viel sites, followed by Viognier a few days later. Harvest is likely to begin at Château Auzines in the last week of August on current estimations, focusing on the white grapes of Albarino and Chardonnay first, followed by Cinsault, Grenache and then Syrah. The last sites to be harvested are our old vine Syrah plots like Bardou and Larmes des Fées at Cazal Viel.
As well as north to south facing plots, night harvesting is the key to quality and finesse in our wines, both red and white. In the heat of late summer days, acidity levels drop in the grapes and sugar levels rise, so, by harvesting at night, we take advantage of falling sugar levels and increased acidity (which gives a sensation of freshness in the wine).
The ripening season of 2023 was steady and we avoided the chronic heatwave conditions in some parts of Europe, which caused those devastating wild fires in Greece, Italy and now in Tenerife. It's a terrible hardship to lose a whole year's work in just a few hours and our thoughts are with our vigneron friends in those countries. Water levels were well-maintained in the lake, thanks to welcome rainfall in May and June, however, there was some humidity in June and July, so the threat of rot was ever-present. Overall, we're optimistic that volumes will be good and we are delighted with the quality of the grapes so far, which is the most important thing of all! The team will work around the clock 24/7 over the next few weeks to get the grapes harvested and to the winery as quickly as possible. The tanks and barrels are cleaned and ready to receive their bounty! It's a very busy time, but it's very rewarding to see the fruits of the year's labour in the vineyards and we look forward to tasting the wines of 2023.
Stay tuned by following our social channels for harvest updates!