Picking the Malbec for the new rose at Bellevue

We had a 7.00 a.m. start, with the simple objective of picking about 700 kg of Malbec grapes, destined for Bellevue’s new rose (a blend of Cabernet Franc and Malbec). As a result we started picking in the dark, as you can see from this picture of the chatelaine, Ief, guided by her torch in those early hours of the morning.

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Although part of Bellevue’s land is AOC-classified (i.e. an AOC wine could be made from grapes from that land, if the wine was made according to the strict Malepere regulation) Bellevue choose to stay within the more flexible regime of Vin du Pays d’Oc, which allows them to blend according to desired taste, based on the grape mix actually grown each year. For example the Malepere rules require a red blend to be 50% Merlot, and the rose blend to be 50% Cabernet Franc: so in a year, such as this one, where the Merlot crop has been weak it would be difficult, in a smaller vineyard, to make an optimum mix of wines within this rigid framework.

This grape-picking was much easier that that on the Chardonnay: we did not have to pick exhaustively, but were able to be selective, and pick the best and most accessible bunches of grapes from rows in the Malbec vineyard selected as optimum for the rose: vines enjoying a more windy aspect with less foliage, high up in the Malepere, and producing less mature grapes, a little more acidic. With about 11 pickers it only took 3 hours to pick our target of 700 kgs of grapes.

Above you see the grapes being loaded into the trailer by Rene, and the trailer load ready to be carted off to the truck, destined for the winery.

We then went off to the winery, at Belleveze-du-Razes. This is the experimental vineyard, operating for the benefit of all the local Cooperatives. There they are constantly testing new strains of disease-resistant vines, and new wines and blends: it must be the only place in the region where you can see “library shelves” of wine bottles, representing their record of the wine trials they have made over the years, and which they are still evaluating.

A library of wines

Above, the Vinotheque at the Winery

The grapes were weighed in and then first go into a cold store (at 2 degrees) and finally into a settling tank. Those who help at Bellevue vineyard get to sign the shiny stainless steel Bellevue wine tank, so Wilfried and I added our signatures.

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