The first Bordeaux grapes came off the vines in Pessac-Leognan this week with Chateau Carbonnieux kicking off the 2006 harvest on August 28.
The white Sauvignon Blanc grapes were the first to be harvested although chateau owner Philibert Perrin said he could have started earlier.
‘The Sauvignon parcels are ripe and we don’t want to risk rot setting in with the weather,’ he told local paper Sud Ouest. ‘The rain isn’t ideal, but we’re not going to gain anything by waiting. I wish I had started picking last week.’
The skins of the grapes are thick, and potential alcohol is recorded at just below 13°.
A spokeswoman at neighbouring Chateau Rochemorin, owned by André Lurton, told decanter.com that Jacques Lurton and oenologist Denis Dubourdieu were in the vines, ‘despite the rain’, assessing the quality of the grapes. She said they were likely to begin harvesting in the next few days.
Elsewhere, proprietors are worrying about the changeable August weather which has seen the rains come after a July heatwave.
‘We could do with the sun reappearing now,’ said Caroline Perromat at Chateau Haut Bailly, also in Pessac-Leognan.
Pessac-Leognan, 20km south of Bordeaux, traditionally begins the harvest as its microclimate is a few degrees warmer than elsewhere in the region. Its warm, gravelly soils also aid early ripening.
Written by Jane Anson