Jérôme was very pleased with a new picking machine called Selectiv' Process made by Pellenc that he had rented during the harvest. Unfortunately he had had to return it the day before so we didn't get to see it. A new machine costs 190,000€, so the Choblets had wanted to try it out before investing in one.
Serge Batard checking the press
Part of a trailer load of hand picked grapes
"It is a delicate vintage," Serge reported. "There is more rot than in 2009. We had a storm on the 7th/8th September with 50mm of rain, which restarted some rot, which had appeared in July but had dried out. I reckon we have lost about 10%-15% of the harvest because of this. The younger vines seem to have been hit more than the older vines. 2010 is not the vintage of the century for us!"
Serge reckoned he had about three days of picking left. Even though Serge was not very happy with the vintage the grapes that I saw on the trailer looked pretty good – presumably the pickers had done a good job in the vineyard rejecting rotten grapes.
Eric Chevalier: Domaine de l'Aujardière, Saint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu
Since he took over from his father, Gérard, on 1st April 2006, Eric has rapidly established himself as one of the new stars of the Pays Nantais, so it was good to be able to make a quick visit to his domaine, which is to the south east of Saint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu.
Although Eric's domaine is only about 18 kilometres away (in a straight line) from Serge in Saint-Leger, he didn't get the early September storm that has disrupted Serge's harvest. "Storms often pass on one side of the Lac or the other," Eric explained. He had just arrived with a trailer of machine-picked Fie Gris (Sauvignon Rose/Sauvignon Gris). 'We started this morning at 7am – yesterday it was 5.30am. It's coming in at 12.6%, so again no need to chaptalize (adding sugar to the must) this year, which makes it three years in a row. We started on the Fie Gris Jeunes Vignes last week. Picked the Melon on Friday and Saturday. The yields are good along with the quality – 85/90 hl/ha for the Chardonnay vin de pays."
We tasted various juices – Chardonnay (rich and clean), Pinot Noir for the rosé, Fie Gris and Melon. All tasted clean and promising, so will be good to taste the finished wine. At least five generations of the Chevalier family have farmed here. Gérard, Eric's father, was the first to decide to specialise in wine. He was also one of the first in the district to plant varieties to make vin de pays – pulling out Gros Plant and Melon to plant Chardonnay and Fie Gris.
The domaine has 30 ha of vines – 12 Melon de Bourgogne and 18 vin de pays. 30% of their sales are from the cellar door and between 30%-40% export. Eric is imported by Kermit Lynch into the US and by Lea & Sandeman and SWIG into the UK.
See my report on Eric Chevalier following the 2010 Salon des Vins de Loire here.