Thursday, September 17, 2009

And Away We Go: Harvest 2009

Ripe, plump Chardonnay grapes in the Macon

I love Burgundy, as anyone who's ever even glanced at this blog could tell you. But, and this is a big BUT, it's too damned expensive. I wish I could represent some great, unheard-of winemaker who's toiling away in the Côte d'Or, but doing so would probably violate Vinotas Selections' whole raison d'être, namely to find small, high-quality producers making wines that will retail for under $25.

However, I do carry one white Burgundy that I am really fond of, the Domaine Cathérine et Didier Tripoz. After spending some time with them last year walking their vineyards and seeing their dedication, I fell in love with them and their lands.

Clipping the bunches

This past week harvest 2009 started, and it's looking like a good one. In fact, the only region that seems to have had a few issues is the area east of Muscadet, which saw some hail damage. But otherwise, reports all over France are that this year will be a great one. Didier had the same thing to say about his Clos des Tournons, another shipment of which will be arriving very soon in the NYC area.

Climbing the VERY steep hillside vineyard

As I couldn't be there this year, I asked him to send me some pictures of the harvest. I adore seeing this, it really brings it all into focus: the hard, manual labor, the long hours toiling in the field, the amount of dedication necessary to source great grapes and make a lovely wine.

Emptying the bins

Sure, in many cases it would be cheaper and easier to get a mechanical picker. And some great wines are made despite having been picked by a machine. Heck, it certainly gives the winemaker more flexibility as to timing and speed. But there's something so elemental and heart-warming to harvesting by hand, knowing that someone has carefully selected these bunches before they're sent to the sorting table to be selected again. It shows dedication to the utmost levels of quality.

Off to the winery

But it isn't easy, and not for those with bad backs or sore feet. For most folks it's this mythical time in the vineyard. For those who do it, it's back-breaking, non-stop abusive work, with plenty of bruises and scrapes and cuts to show. But it's so worth it. If you've ever wondered what it's like, I invite you to read my post about harvesting the 2006 vintage in Burgundy, HERE.

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