20 March, 2017

Pleurs in the vines


No doubt, les pleurs is here.

Pleurs mean tears. This liquid is the sap of the plant regaining its fluid form, rise and move up inside the branches to eventually wake up the buds, that will begin to grow.

We know the sap is back as it flows from the spots where branches have been removed when we pruned.

It is also the sign to speed up attaching the branches because in some weeks the buds will visibly grow bigger and it will be harder to attach without breaking them. Read more about here (the 2016 report).

But it all depends on temperatures. They stay around 13 degrees in the days and colder at night. Sunny days may even send us 16 degrees celsius. People with bare legs and t-shirts have been spotted in town. In the countryside, it's cooler.

Pleurs is back. It really is springtime in the vineyards.



09 March, 2017

Finished pruning


This is what it looks like everywhere in our plots.

Since a few hours ago.

Pruning began with prepruning in October.

Now we're through for this season. The scissors will rest at least until November. Nice.


The pruning is crucial for the health of the plants, for the quality of our grapes.

So we pay attention to the quality of the work done.

But... you know, even so, it's still long and it's great when we're done. Every year.

Bring out the bubbles :-)

26 January, 2017

Freeze fits feeding the soils


Profiting from the cold.

The ground is frozen. It's great times to spread fertilizers.

We do it with this little machine, very handy to pass all over the plots, next to the vines.

Organic fertilizers
As the fertilizers are organic, we can spread them already now.


Obviously, the idea is that they'll be ready for the benefit of the vines as these will enter their growth period in some months. Thus we don't feed the vines directly, but rather nourish the soil, and then this is where the plants will find what they need for growth and maintenance.

As organic manures decomposit much slower - 90 days - compared to conventional - 30 days, the time schedule is also different. It basically means that organic products can be spread much earlier.

To fit with analysis
Alain choses the manure in order to fit a soil analysis of each plot the best possible way.

The manure is natural, and this means that your choice is not à la carte. You go for what will fit your need better from what is available.

In our case, we have opted for guano for quite a few years now. Basically it's bird excrements, and it surely smells like it for quite some time after the spread.

But the smell is not for long, and it seems to satisfy the need. Our plots are all healthy according to the lab that measures their composition. One good thing done then.

14 October, 2016

Høst 2016: Vand som først fjende så frelser


I Champagne har høsten 2016 stået i regnens tegn. Hvad kan vi vente os, når vi møder dens druer som kildrende priklende bobler i ganen? Det er kun få uger siden, vi landede den sidste klase i sorte spande, og derfor stadig svært at forudsige. Men sæsonen har været så usædvanlig siden sidst i april, at det er svært at forestille sig, at ikke også afslutningen, den endelige champagne på flaske, må ende særligt. Så meget desto mere spændende at følge.

Det er jo ingen nyhed, at druedyrkning i Champagne er en besværlig affære. Sådan har det været i århundreder. Alligevel forekom det i 2016 mere mirakuløst end nogensinde at se balancen mellem succes og fiasko tippe til plus. I vores landsby, Soulières, skal man være tættere på 100 år end 50 for allerede at have oplevet en sæson med så snæver en marginal. Det skyldes primært vand: Nærmest endeløs regn gennem hele foråret på minussiden, der blev vendt til plus i sidste sekund af forløsende fem millimeter regn få dage før høststart.


Derfor kunne vi lande 35 tons flotte og sunde, blå og grønne druer fra den 21. september om morgenen og til kort før frokost syv en halv dag senere. Det er væsentligt færre klaser end normalt, men mere end rigeligt til at fylde de godt 8.000 flasker Tange-Gérard champagne, vi har til salg per år, foruden druer til kooperativet. Alle er de nu på efterårets vej mod vin. Først efter nytår følger fortsættelsen på flaske, hvor vinen andengærer sig frem til sine bobler


Vanskelig sæson
I vinmarkerne fulgte frost lige efter de første blade i år. Måske var det den, der generede vinens vækst resten af sæsonen. Måske havde den langvarige tørke i 2015 forstyrret knopperne i fødslen. Det betød en stærk variation mellem planternes udvikling og blev en af de faktorer, der gjorde 2016 til en udfordring helt frem til vinhøsten.

Gennem foråret sinkede den konstant silende regn vinens udvikling yderligere, den forstyrrede blomstringen og gjorde kampen mod vinmeldug konstant det meste af sommeren. Først i august skiftede vejret til meget varme temperaturer langt over 30 grader Celsius. Varmen reddede en god del af vores vindruer fra sygdom, men de var stadig så små, at vi ansatte en tredjedel færre drueplukkere end normalt. Lidt regn få dage før høststart lagde til druernes vægt - det var miraklet - og nu venter vi på de næste møder med indholdet.


Mosten og vinen
Mosten har vi smagt flere gange direkte fra pressen. Især Pinot Meunier er spækket med sukker, vores blå druer nåede en betragtelig modenhed, og de fleste af dem går en rød fremtid i møde som det farvende element i vores ellers Chardonnay-baserede rosé champagne. Vi plukkede Chardonnay-druerne sidst, hvilket gav en most med lidt mere sukker og lidt mindre syre i fin balance mellem disse afgørende poler. Hvordan vandet i 2016 i sidste ende vil finde sit udtryk i årets vin, er for tidligt at sige noget om endnu. Hæng endelig på. Fortsættelsen følger på flaske om nogle år.


Høsthilsener
Alain Gérard og Solveig Tange, Soulières, oktober 2016

20 September, 2016

Getting ready for the team of 2016


At Tange-Gerard, switching languages is part of our daily life.

What could be more natural than to extend this to our team of the grapeharvest?

All set and ready. The boxes are out of the grange. The extra van is picked up today. As will be the girls who arrive by train later.

We will all meet for dinner tonight. Certainly the starter will be soup. We just don't know which vegetable yet.

Tomorrow is our first day of 2016. The Pinots will be up.


17 September, 2016

Vingæster på falderebet før høst


Vi venter gæster til formiddag.

Gæster fra Danmark, der kommer for at se lidt mere på faciliteterne. Champagnen kender de allerede.

Jeg når aldrig rigtig at fotografere festlighederne på anden vis end som ovenfor, men tidligere på året, i sommer, skrev en gæst sådan her:

"Tak, vi havde en rigitg dejlig tur til Champagne. Vi er virkelig glade for, du tog dig tid til at vise os rundt - det var en stor oplevelse for os alle.

Ingen af os vidste det store omkring Champagne forinden, men nu er vi vilde med det :-)".

Historier og vinhøst
Det er jo lige præcis det, som det handler om: At opleve druerne sammen, der hvor de er: Det vil sige i vinmarken og på flasken. Historier har vi nok af.

Mon ikke emnepilen peger på vinhøst? For den står sjældent mere for døren end lige nu.

Når gæsterne er kørt videre, skal værelserne have en tur, så de er klar på tirsdag, når der kommer flere folk på gården, end vi plejer at være.

Det er altid en særlig tid. Jeg tænker næsten vores danske gæster risikerer at blive smittet med bacillen.

14 September, 2016

The Chardonnays are catching up

Finally the grapes are getting there

Day by day the sugars go up and the acidity the other way, though in an acceptable speed.

The Chardonnays were behind the Pinots.

Quite a gap, but they are getting there as these white grapes have approached the last, fast part of maturation before it will slow down again. Now the Pinots are beyond 9% vol and the Chardonnays beyond 8% vol on average.

Minor gap is fine
Since we cannot pick both Pinots and Chardonnays at the same time, a gap is fine. As long as the difference does not measure in too many days.

Finally, it seem that after a summer of 1001 different calamities, finally what is left out there is left to mature nicely. And at the moment with a quite extraordinary healthy quality thanks to the lack of rain. However, you may spot brown parts of the far grape, and they are damages, caused by the burning sun. Damage that we see in several plots. Tuesday the temperatures passed 30 degrees Celsius again.

And we would like to order some rain just a few days before we pick the grapes because that will allow them to put on weight. And us to be able to land just a bit heavier grapes than is the case now.

At Tange-Gerard, we will start the harvest next wednesday, September 21st.


09 September, 2016

Puzzle of sugar levels before date decision


We are one step closer to the champagnes of 2016.

Yesterday Alain collected samples in all plots in order to measure the sugar of the grapes.

We aim at a sugar level that will provide us with still wines between 10 and 11 % vol.

Sunny weather, more sugar
Currently, we have very warm weather every day so you would expect sugar levels to go up easily. They certainly do grow as we check the measures of other winegrowers every 3-4 days. We have so few grapes this year that we will only do one sampling.

The average in Champagne is of 7,4 % vol for the Chardonnays in la Marne and 8,5 for the Pinot Meuniers and a bit less for the Pinot Noirs, also in la Marne.

In our own plots we reach the same level for the Pinots but our Chardonnays are behind with only 6,5 % vol which makes it a bit of a descision when to begin the harvest. For logistical reasons we need to finish it all in the one week, we hire staff. How that will be manageable with such a gap between the red and the white grapes is the puzzle of today.

Date decision expected
Later, in the afternoon, the winegrowers of our corner will discuss measures and possible dates.

Hopefully this will bring us a big step closer towards the date descision in order to inform the staff.