Jean-Marie Guffens needs little introduction to our customers. The maverick Belgian vigneron has produced outstanding, great value wines for decades through his Domaine Guffens-Heynen and négociant Maison Verget. These wines are now almost exclusively from the Maconnais, from old vines and great sites overlooked by those with tunnel vision for the Cote d’Or.
Stephen Browett first visited Kumeu River Winery - and met winemaker Michael Brajkovich - in January 1990 on a visit to Auckland. He’d been tipped off about a new Chardonnay producer (first vintage 1985) by Barry Phillips who had bought the 1987 for the wine list of the legendary White Horse Inn at Chilgrove. After tasting the 1989 vintage from barrel he placed an order - Farr Vintners has shipped every vintage since then.
With the harvest finished on Monday and the ‘Gerbaude’ festival on the Tuesday, we started working for the château in the fermentation rooms on Wednesday. We were now to learn and be involved in the winemaking process with the grapes picked and sorted; the turning of grape juice into wine!
With the harvest over, last Thursday we made some chateau visits in order to explore the Medoc further. First we went back to Lafon Rochet where Basile gave us a tour of the chateau, letting us taste the juice from the unfermented rosé (for their label Lafon Roset), which was delicious and very easy drinking.
This week we finished the Cabernet Sauvignon and with it the entire harvest at Latour. At 7.30pm on Monday 26th September the last grapes were picked, packed and sent back to the Chateau
Last Monday the big Cabernet harvest started, which confirms that the harvest will be over by the end of September. We started by picking the young vines on Monday in weather more unpredictable than an England Rugby World Cup performance. On Tuesday we took on more pickers and carriers for the large number of Cabernet vines inside and outside the “enclos” which were deemed ripe enough to be picked.
Merlot Harvest at Château Latour
Monday the 12th of September marked the start of the 2011 harvest at Château Latour. Ben and I were at the château just before 8am in order to have the breakfast provided to give the pickers and carriers energy to get through the day. Ben and I have been carriers or "porteurs" for most of the week, but both of us have had a chance to pick too, myself for most of the weekend.
Last Sunday Ben and I went to visit Denis Durantou in Pomerol at his home, Château L’Eglise Clinet. As mentioned in my previous blog, I have a great fondness for his wines, due to the skill of wine making, and the freshness that all his wines have. We met Denis outside in the vineyard and we went walking through the vines as he was deciding whether it was time to pick the Merlot. This was a great chance to learn from a Pomerol master. The previous week he had picked the grapes for his ‘Les Cruzelles’ label from the younger vines.
This is the first blog from Farr Vintners’ “Boys in Bordeaux”. Thomas Parker is, along with eighteen year old Ben Browett (the eldest son of our Chairman), at Château Latour to take part in the harvest of the 2011 vintage. They left London a week ago and, after a week’s preparation, were due to start picking Merlot grapes today, Monday 12th September. We hope to publish more blogs from Thomas and Ben as the harvest progresses.