It’s “Ban des Vendanges” Time!

Grape Harvest 2015
Grape Harvest 2015

With a hot and dry summer 2015 behind them, the winegrowers of Bordeaux and the rest of the south west France are crossing their fingers for a spectacular 2015 vintage.
In wine making dedicated news articles adjectives like “superb”,” perfect” and “almost idyllic” abound in describing this summer’s weather condition and one author asks rhetorically if this is the so called “5” effect given that all the years that end with 5 since 1945 – maybe with the exception of 1965 – have yielded exceptional or at least outstanding wines (remember this tip when searching for a good Bordeaux bottle!).
In 2015 France is going to produce 46.6 million hectoliters of wine according to estimates from French Statistics and Forecasting Service, 1% less than in 2014.
Given the auspicious 2015 climate conditions the winegrowers of the south west have been preparing for an early harvest, which has already started on the 7th August on the domains of Fitou in Aude department and of Rivesaltes in Pyrénées-Orientales.
In the Bordeaux vineyards the grape picking will start independently around the middle of September, while Saint Emilion region already announced the harvest start date as being September 20th whereas their easterly neighbors in the Cahors wine region will start on September 12th (in the village of Duravel).
For grapes the harvest date is critical. Nowadays at regular intervals, grape samples are tested to assess their degree of maturation. It takes a fine balance between sugar, acidity and aromas so as to obtain the best grapes. If any of these parameters is not optimal, the resulted wine may be unbalanced. But in addition to all the calculations, measurements and other tests, it is ultimately a human palate that will decide the right time.
The harvest has always been associated in popular memory to a celebratory period that punctuates the lives of men and women in the countryside.
The launch of the grape harvesting season is marked in many areas in France with the so called “Ban des Vendanges” a popular festival originating in the Middle Ages that features parades of “wine brothehoods”, street music, wine and foods tasting, etc.
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