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1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Friday, 9 October 2009

Insects – le vrai goût de terroir?

Mass of insects on and in the bin below the sorting table@Domaine Charles Joguet

During a swift visit yesterday to Domaine Charles Joguet where we saw François-Xavier (FX) Barc and his team, I discovered to my astonishment how many insects are gathered in even when picking grapes into cagets (small plastic boxes).

Grapes waiting to be sorted at Domaine Charles Joguet: 8.10.09

The domaine has a new vibrating sorting table which includes a series of small holes through which undersized and dried out grapes (often burnt to a frazzle by the sun) as well as insects drop through into a blue bin underneath. Here are some photos of this host of spiders, ladybirds and earwigs etc. Normally all of these insects end up in the fermenting vat, while these fortunates will be returned to the vines. Many of these insects, the ladybirds, are highly beneficial as they eat unwanted insects that attack the vine and its grapes.

Closer view of some of the insects

......and closer

Of course there will be many fewer insects in grapes from vineyards sprayed with pesticides, insecticides and weedkillers.

The presence of fermented insects in wine may at last explain the origin of le goût de terroir! Certainly if labelling of all wine ingredients becomes complusory it will be necessary to list insects. Whether it will be necessary to list the proportion and the species remains to be seen.

A wider view – there are whole clusters of ladybirds on the insides of the bin


Ken Broadhurst said...

Jim, are these grapes harvested mechanically? Is that a vacuuming process? I assume hand-picked grapes would have fewer insects included. If the grapes are vacuumed off the vines, you can be sure a lot of insects would be sucked up too.

Jim's Loire said...

Thanks for your comment Ken. Apologies I realise my post was misleading as I put 'trailer load'. This is often the case even when picking by hand. However, the 'Rolls Royce' way of hand picking is into small boxes (cagets - Fr)and this is done at Domaine Charles Joguet.

A mechanical harvester has adjustable beaters that shakes the fruit off. Today's machines can be adjusted so that unripe fruit is left behind.The grape stalks remain on the vine.

I have added a photo of a caget to the post.


Ken Broadhurst said...

Jim, I've been to Charles Joguet and tasted the wines. Fantastic, and I'm not surprised the grapes are hand-picked. When I went, with American friends a couple of years ago, we had a very informative and entertaining tasting at Joguet.

Susan said...

LOL. A job for me then if the winemakers have to ID to species level :-) Of course, these aren't the half of the insect population making use of the vines. Many species will lay their eggs and their larvae will grow up in the protection of the leaves before flying off to start the cycle again. I'm thinking of flies in particular here, almost all of which will be beneficial or neutral as far as the vines are concerned.

Jim's Loire said...

Ken. After a disappointing period at the end of the 1990s and early 2000s I agree the Joguet estate is now back on form.

Jim's Loire said...

Thanks for the additional details Susan. I'm assuming there would be a much bigger range of species in organic or biodynamic vineyards.

Susan said...

Inevitably the biodiversity is greater, as organic systems result in a mosaic of thousands of microhabitats, allowing for many different species needs. Only certain sorts of specialists benefit from chemically managed agriculture, everything else loses to a greater or lesser extent.

Jim's Loire said...

Thanks Susan. Jim


hello Jim
Here is something to meditate about this insects problematic.
We've noticed at the domaine (and are studying the case) than most of the time, when there are lots of "coccinelles" in the small boxes there are fewer "pince oreilles" and reverse. For exemple, there were huge amounts of ladybirds in 2005 and 2006 (they were climbing everywhere in the chai for the whole harvest time and stayed there for a while after vinification)and lots of "pince oreilles" in 2003 or 2009.Here is the CASLOTS THEORY : we assume that there is ladybirds vintages and pince oreilles vintages. Of course, we would have to do some experiments in differents vineyards on differents vintages to prove anything but this might have something to do with the sugar and acidity level of the grapes, or the vitality of the vines. AS for the news about cabernet franc picking in la chevalerie (restigné - bourgueil) you are very welcome to visit any time this week or beginning of next week as we are just starting picking the 38 hectares (the Rolls Royce way as you would say.. ). So if you want to have a look of "the factory" just give us a call we'd be happy to show you !
stéphanie Caslot
PS : AS I told u when I met you last time in London, I'm a big fan of your blog and I read almost all your articles .. even the one when you gave me the first name of my mother :) !

Jim's Loire said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim's Loire said...


Many thanks for your comments and my apologies for mixing up your names – now put right.

At Charles Joguet my quick impression was that there were more ladybirds than earwigs.

It would be interesting to know what observations other producers have made.