Thursday 1st October: today, after six weeks of non-stop harvesting since the first white grapes were picked on 24th August, we are laying down our tools until the first sweep through the Loupiac plots at Chateau Ricaud. But first, we must patiently wait while Botrytis Cinerea works its magic on the Semillon grapes.

Choosing the right date to harvest is essential. The timing takes into account ripeness levels in each parcel, or micro-parcel, which are harvested according to the individual characteristics of the grapes, and only when perfectly ripe. In this early vintage, the usual harvesting order has been turned on its head, with the first Cabernet grapes on Chateau Belgrave’s gravel soils picked before the Merlot cultivated on clay. The fine weather persisted throughout the red grape harvest. And now our thoughts turn to winemaking…

Despite particularly low volumes of Cabernet Sauvignon, which, naturally smaller than Merlot, struggled to ripen in the summer heatwave, quality is certainly not lacking. The grapes are healthy with highly-coloured, aromatic juices, rapidly developing aromas of black berry fruits and spice.

Weather conditions from June to September promoted the development of rich, high quality tannins in the grapes. We chose to cold soak the Cabernet before and at the very start of fermentation, to encourage intense colour and freshness, and softer extraction of the skins for gentler tannins.

The Merlot grapes are completing fermentation, before post-fermentation maceration.  As to the Cabernets, fermentation has only just started, revealing distinguished, rich, fresh and very fruity juices.  A promising start to the 2020 vintage.

Stay connected for our next winemaking update…