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Hasty Harvest For Bordeaux's Merlot Makers

This batch of Graves merlot is now safely in the winery
© AFP | This batch of Graves merlot is now safely in the winery
French producers take no chances as rot threatens grapes.

The harvest in many Bordeaux vineyards has come earlier than expected, with the threat of rain and rot forcing producers to hurriedly pick their merlot crop.

Rain during the final weekend of September, accompanied by mild temperatures, led to a mad dash to beat the onset of rot.

On Thursday, at Château Malarctic-Lagravière in the Graves appellation, vineyard manager Benoît Proveteau sent 70 pickers out in a rainstorm to harvest the last of a parcel of merlot that was ready.

Said château owner Alfred-Alexander Bonnie: "We have to be very responsive and even change our plans during the day. The weather is our main topic of discussion. We were expecting rain and this parcel could not tolerate it so we had to pick it."

Indeed, the legions of pickers have been harvesting under grey skies to avert the threat of botrytis.

At Château Marquis de Terme, the harvest started on Monday, September 30, and the health of the grapes is the estate's main concern. The property's director, Ludovic David, told Sud-Ouest: "It's a complicated year, the most complicated I have seen in 19 years, but it is during the difficult years that you can assess the quality of the viticulturists."

No doubt the Bordelais will be calling it a "winemaker's vintage," meaning the staff will need their skills and all the technology at their disposal to make a fine wine this year.

But for the grapes that are still hanging on the vine, this week is expected to be fine.

Proveteau said: "Sunny weather will arrive from Monday with a cool and dry wind from the north, which will stop the spread of botrytis and bodes well for beautiful cabernet."

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