The first grapes of the 2005 Bordeaux harvest were picked yesterday at Château Haut-Brion.

Traditionally the first off the starting blocks, pickers at Haut-Brion went out to harvest the first ripe Sauvignon Blanc grapes for the château’s white wine. Although picking will not continue today or tomorrow, the next round – or trie – of picking is set to continue on Monday.

‘We should begin picking the red grapes in the middle of next week,’ a spokeswoman for the château told decanter.com. ‘They are in a perfect, healthy state.’

Haut-Brion is regularly the first Bordeaux property to begin harvesting. Not only is it situated in the warmer Graves region, south of Bordeaux, but it is also in the suburb of the town, ensuring warmer temperatures than other properties in the region. Most other domaines are still waiting.

‘The other, more precocious, properties in the Graves will begin harvesting next week,’ said Jean-Louis Vivère, head of the Graves regional wine body. ‘The Sauvignon Blanc is showing well and growers are keeping an eye on the acidity levels. By mid-September all the white grapes would be in. We’ll still have to wait and see for the reds.’

The dry weather that has been affecting vines Europe-wide has not left Bordeaux untouched.

‘There has been a very, very heavy drought,’ said Vivère. ‘Some vineyards will have had some problems although there was a storm last week, which put a smile on growers’ faces. Still, young vines or those in deep gravel soil will have problems.’

Despite the threat of drought, some Graves winemakers are still in a very confident mood.

‘We should begin with the whites in the middle of next week and this is really looking like one of the best harvests for a very, very long time,’ said a spokesman at Château Olivier.

‘If the climatic conditions stay the same, the harvest will be very good,’ Gabriel Vialard of Chateau Haut-Bailly told the France 2 news channel.

Written by Oliver Styles