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Bordeaux red grape harvest well underway

The ban de vendanges for all Bordeaux red grapes, including Cabernet Sauvignon in the Medoc, opened on October 1.

The Cabernet Sauvignon harvest in Saint Julien and Pauillac has been open since September 26.

Jean Francois Quenin at Chateau de Pressac in Saint Emilion told decanter.com, ‘I have just begun the Merlot harvest today, whereas this time last year I had finished. And I normally start with young vines up on the plateau, but this year the vines further down on the plains ripened earlier.’

In Fronsac, Stephanie Barousse at Chateau La Dauphine has had similar experiences. ‘Vines on clay soils are reaching maturity earlier than those on lighter structured-soil. We are harvesting the opposite way round than most years, staying close to the grapes and throwing out the usual rule book.’

In the Medoc, most growers are waiting as long as possible. Jose Sanfins at Cantenac Brown in Margaux said, ‘We will finish the Merlots tonight. Picking took three weeks where it usually takes us four days. The flowering in June was a little uneven with the Merlots, so they are ripening at different times.’

He said the flowering was better with Cabernet Sauvignon. ‘We hope to have a more uniform harvest with the Cabernet grapes next week. They are currently reaching around 12.5 degrees potential alcohol, but we’d like them to ripen up a little more.’

The overall estimated volume for 2007 stands at between 5.5m and 5.6m hectoliters, lower than last year, and has helped push the expected price of a tonneau (900 litres) of AOC Bordeaux red up to €1,000

In 2006 the price was €880. This low yield is being seen across France, down 7%, or 50.6m hl, compared to 2006.

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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