In Cairanne berries on our Syrah vines are ripening and entering the véraison stage, when the grapes’ skins turn from green to purple and the texture changes from hard to soft as the berries ripen. Véraison is the last hurdle for the berry before harvest, which we predict will be in 40 to 50 days time, approximately around the 8th September for Syrah (18 days earlier than the late harvest of 2013).
As we tend to the vines during this crucial stage (while crossing our fingers for perfect conditions during harvest) we thought we’d take a moment to reflect on what’s happened so far in the vineyard during the 2014 vintage.
May into June – Flowering
This year flowering was three weeks earlier than 2013 – this picture was taken on the 27th May and shows each bud setting well.
Fortunately the weather was kind during the flowering period, relatively warm and, more importantly, with little wind; ideal conditions to encourage each individual flower to produce a single berry.
Late May & June – Ecimage, Ebourgeonnage and Relevage
As flowering progresses we start écimage – trimming unwanted shoots to allow the vine to slowly reduce the growing process and focus her energy on nurturing the grapes. Trimming also helps avoid wind damage.
During May and June Gérald Ramsay, pictured above, also focuses on ébourgeonnage and relevage.
For ébourgeonnage (disbudding) Gérald selects young shoots he’d like to keep and carefully cuts away the others, allowing the vines to thrive while controlling the yield.
Syrah vines are trained to trellis wires in a process known as relevage, serving the dual purpose of protecting the vines from the wind and helping them grow straighter giving the grapes a more even chance of ripening.
July – Green Grapes and Sacrifice…
By July we can see a fantastic crop with very healthy Grenache Noir berries at La Pauline (above). Yet some grapes are sacrificed for the good of others as the green harvest begins. Taken in early July the images below show the green harvest of young Syrah vines at La Truffière.
It may look like indiscriminate hacking of the vines but ‘sacrificed’ bunches are carefully chosen to allow those left on the vine to ripen evenly. Some leaves are pruned away too, allowing the berries to benefit from the early morning sun. This is done only to the vine facing sunrise; leaves are left on the other side to protect the grapes from sunburn.
Green harvesting also helps balance the yield and allows a protective current of air to circulate around the bunches. Thanks to this process the vines are able to establish their roots deep in the ground without becoming too ‘tired’.
Late July – Véraison
Berries are ripening and entering the véraison stage, when the grapes’ skins turn from green to purple and the texture changes from hard to soft as the berries gradually ripen.
Now that véraison has started we estimate that the Syrah harvest in Cairanne will be earlier than 2013, starting around the 8th September, as it did in 2011.