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Bandol harvest finishes early

The vintage in Bandol in Provence has finished early, with the annual harvest of 225 Mourvèdre vines planted on a motorway roundabout north of the town of Bandol.

The costumed event – known as ‘Les Vendanges du Rond-Point des Mourvèdres’ – usually symbolises the vintage in full swing but this year marked its end, and summed up the positive mood surrounding this year’s crop.

Michel Bronzo, owner of La Bastide Blanche and President of the Bandol Association, described 2004 as ‘following in the footsteps of 2000 and 2001, both great years for Bandol, after the difficult 2002 vintage and exceptionally hot 2003.’ Nevertheless, he estimates production is 10-15% down on last year.

Summer 2004 experienced more even temperatures, consistent sunshine and a little rain in August and September, followed by a drying Mistral. But, according to most growers, not enough rain to avoid near drought conditions.

Bandol escaped the storms seen elsewhere in France, and the fine weather continued through September until the last grapes were picked in the first week October.

Eric de Saint-Victor of Château de Pibarnon, who finished picking their last parcels at the end of September, said, ‘We already had excellent sugar and polyphenol levels, it would have been a pity to wait any longer. It could be a great vintage.’

Freddy Estienne from Domaine de la Laidière was also enthusiastic. ‘We completed the harvest on Saturday 2 October. It’s never been that early here.’

Yields for Mourvèdre for red wines will be near 25-30 hl/ha, also confirmed by Domaine de la Tour du Bon and Domaine de la Vivonne. Reynald Delille of Domaine Terrebrune in the commune of Ollioules ventured a cautious ‘very good’ for the vintage, with average volumes of 35 hl/ha.

Written by Richard James

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