In glorious conditions harvest 2017 started on the 5th of September, nine days earlier than 2016 and two weeks earlier than originally expected.
2017 brings the earliest harvest ever recorded at Domaine Boutinot Rhône; rivalled only by 2011 when picking started on the 8th September.
5th September: After an unusually warm winter, summer in Cairanne was dry and hot, with no rainfall recorded for the two months running up to harvest. Good for the harvest but gruelling for our team the dry weather continues as picking began at our lowest vineyard, with Carignan Noir from 50 year old vines at’Les Garrigues’.
Grapes are delivered to our Cairanne winery in small baskets to ensure they are not damaged before they go into the vat.
9th September: As the first Syrah starts to ferment in ‘ tronconique’ (large open topped oak vats) and we keep the cap wet with gentle ‘remontage’ the robust pink of the foam indicates there will be good colour in the wines this year.
South African winemaker Nadia Bernard joins Eric Monnin, Domaine Boutinot’s Founding Winemaker for the harvest.
Harvest continues in the lower vineyards.
13th September: As they visit ‘La Pauline’, our highest Cairanne plot, Domaine Boutinot’s winemaker Julien Dugas (below right) discusses the harvest conditions with Paul Boutinot, of South Africa’s Waterkloof estate.
18th September: Picking begins in these higher plots (‘La Pauline’ and ‘Les Six Terrasses’); back breaking work as the team harvest Grenache Noir from bush vines which are nearly forty years old.
23rd September: A healthy crop later ripening Grenache Noir is harvested from Saint Andéol, our oldest and most sheltered vineyard.
25th September: Julien and Eric put Nadia to work continuing the ‘pigeage’ with grapes from ‘La Pauline’. This can be done by machine but we prefer to tread the grapes manually in order to gently extract flavours and tannins from the grapes, judging the progress as we go.
As the harvest draws to a close Mourvèdre (which has not been de-stemmed) goes into the vat.
A new tronconique (6,000l oak vat) received its first grapes.
26th September: Harvest is over as the last Mourvèdre from Font Crozes falls into Tank 8, marking the point when Domaine Boutinot’s seventh vintage is safely in the cellar.
As with the rest of the Rhône the hot, dry weather has affected yields. As reported in The Drinks Business “Inter Rhône, are predicting “an excellent grape harvest”. The representative body are also forecasting “high quality” and that “yields will not be excessive,” admitting that compared to the rest of France, “the Rhône Valley vineyards have, yet again, emerged relatively unscathed” *
So far the wines appear to have good concentration but winemakers prefer to reserve judgement, often until the final assemblage is made, which in our case may be up to 24 months from now. In the meantime here’s Eric’s experimental future blend – Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre and one berry of Carignan Noir!
*(24th August 2017).