Liberty Wines Apprentice 2018
Jane Eyre, Burgundy, France - 2019 vintage
"Getting into the tank and foot treading is great fun but a lot less romantic than one would imagine - very cold and squishy!"
I’m part of a small team of all Aussies: Jane, Jane’s niece, Alex who has worked five vintages in Burgundy, Billy who teaches wine viticulture at Adelaide University, and winemaker Jim Chatto of Chatto Wines in Tasmania - a very knowledgeable team!
The winery, based in Bligny-les-Beaune, is shared by several different small producers. At times it can get quite competitive over booking equipment and people pinching thermometers, but I’ve found it really interesting to chat to other winemakers about their winemaking methods.
In Burgundy this year, frost in April has resulted in uneven flowering and fruit set. This means the volume of fruit is lower and ripening times have varied across appellations so picking times have been fairly spread out. However, the overall quality of the grapes we’ve seen gives confidence that despite the frost and then a very hot summer with lack of rain, it’s set to be a very promising vintage with the wines already showing great tannin structure overall.
This year, Jane has got nine parcels of fruit from different appellations including Savigny-Les-Beaune 1er Cru, Gevrey-Chambertin Corbeaux 1er Cru and, for the first time, a parcel of Charmes-Chambertin Grand Cru. We finished in Fleurie on Tuesday. Picking here was much more difficult than in Burgundy due to the low-trained goblet vines, but our efforts were rewarded at casse croûte (similar to elevenses) where we enjoyed a feast of chocolate, saucisson, bread and last year’s vintage, all at 9am!
Once the fruit is picked, we meticulously sort the grapes which can take several hours. We then take daily samples and record the temperatures and sugars of each tank to keep an eye on the fermentation progress. We also carry out pump overs which are done in order to homogenise the tank and control fermentation. It’s also important to stop the cap of the grapes from drying out; this means getting into the tank and foot treading which is great fun but a lot less romantic than one would imagine- very cold and squishy!
Often days at the winery are early starts and late finishes with lots of picking, sorting and cleaning in the middle. However, all hopes of getting abs of steel have gone out of the window as we have all been eating very well. Big harvest dinners with the team and Jane’s friends and family have been a highlight where we reflect on the day, chat about everything Burgundy and eat a lot of cheese!
We will begin pressing the wine in a few days and racking last year’s vintage out of the barrel to prepare for bottling later in the year.