Le Chambertin in tank, 2010 harvest recap + the fruit search continues

Here we are. Not more than a week has passed since we received our first grapes of the year and now we are finished. Everything is tank and doing fine. No injuries, no car issues, just typical winery work, nothing more. This year brought a great amount of continued luck for us. Each of our vineyard sources produced fruit that was of exceptional quality. There was a good amount of sorting to be done here and there, though the fruit we kept is really exciting. In comparison to 2009, the ph levels are roughly .2 to .3 lower showing a great brightness. Alcohols are just a bit lower, showing on average .35-.4% lower in degrée. Due to shatter, the yields were naturally lower and millerandage was apparent in each vineyard with much more tiny berries in comparison to 2009. Skins were just a bit more crisp this year as well. Overall, I really have been impressed, in fact surprised at the quality of the fruit and of the lucky breaks that we received. One such instance was with Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru ‘Les Corbeaux’ where we received a much better parcel than planned due to planning on the day of harvest. We received a similar break with Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru ‘Aux Charmes’ due to a well known négociant coming late by 15 minutes (we actually had no choice but to have the cases filled up at that time). We were given their parcel as we were 15 minutes early. The lot was just 10 blocks closer to Le Chambertin, but we’ll take it!

The fruit from Le Chambertin was in a word impressive. As a devout terroirist I can agree with many thoughts and theories of the nuances between the numerous climats. In fact, this is what drove me to moving to Burgundy after all. With this in mind, it is always striking how much more Le Chambertin gives than the others. Truly, the others are really special vineyards, on incredible land. Some of the others are really breathtaking visually, such as Monts Luisants with it’s steep slopes and countless layers of pebbled limestone. However, with Le Chambertin, it has such a length when you even taste the grapes. It sounds like marketing, I try to keep away from describing the wines. But, really, this is something quite interesting.

With just 32 fruit cases filled we will be at around two barrels worth of grapes again. Last year pressed out to 2.5 barrels. I can’t say if this will happen again this year. Filling the tank was a breeze. The height of this baby wooden tank is roughly 5 feet, 4 inches. As with the others, I just brought the case of sorted and de-stemmed fruit to the tank and dumped in.

This year, it is important to note that everything was successfully 100% de-stemmed, unlike last year, when the Morey Saint Denis 1er Cru ‘Les Chaffots’ was partly hand de-stemmed, partly whole cluster and partly machine de-stemmed. The result was the Morey has a bit of a different ‘style’ which is really something that I would prefer to avoid doing as it clouds the perception of terroir. This year, the only difference between lots will be that the Corbeaux will be fermented in steel tank, while everything else is in wooden tanks. Beside this point, what one tastes should be only a difference in origin of the fruit, however this is described.

Last thing, just one day after harvest, I am back into looking for more fruit. I have an appointment to meet with a grower in Chambolle-Musigny to discuss 2011 fruit! Those that know me and have tasted the wines know exactly why I am very excited to get my grubby hands on some Chambolle-Musigny fruit.

Also, here is a picture to show just how low technology (some might say no technology) our setup truly is.

Thank you for your patience!


6 thoughts on “Le Chambertin in tank, 2010 harvest recap + the fruit search continues

  1. Hi Ray! Thanks for the play-by-play. I have a question for you though. When you de-stemmed, what were you using to catch the grapes? I take it that you did a second sorting after the destemming, but did you get much crushing of the grapes from the de-stemmer? Let us know when the ferments start.

  2. Hey Chris,
    thanks for the comments! I used the same 50 liter fruit cases to catch the de-stemmed fruit. The grapes were certainly in very good shape after the de-stemmer. We poured slowly and this gave us a bunch of small grapes which weren’t broken or crushed in the least. There was a small amount of fine tuning to get to this point though.

    After the de-stemmed fruit dropped in the cases, we would pick out the jacks (partial stems) to make sure we had as clean a case as possible. A neighbor remarked that the grapes in tank looked like a hill of caviar. This is exactly what we were going for, nice de-stemmed berries!

  3. Ray,

    Beautiful pictures of the harvest – I am glad that you had success. I’m a friend of Mark Freeman’s and thank you helping him live his dream…

  4. Hey JR,
    thanks for the comments! Mark was a big help this year. I know because he told me everyday! 🙂 He is a funny guy as well. I’m looking forward to having him back for pressing this week.


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