Harvest Report – Issue #1
Our first round of grape sampling was done on Friday, August 27. The clusters all looked clean and intact, even in spite of the threat of downy and powdery mildew from the hotter and more humid periods that we experienced earlier in the summer. Comparing the sugar and acid levels in the grapes revealed that we still had a few days left to go before we could begin bringing in some fruit in for the Cuvée Catharine Brut and Rosé Brut. As we walked the rows, we tasted a few berries, checking out the differences in seed coloration between varieties and Reserve blocks; some showing more green than others. Ripeness is not only skin deep!
We checked out our youngest block of Pinot Noir again 12 days later, September 6th. The Brix level had climbed by more than 3 degrees, and the acidity had dropped by 5 g/L! This really goes to show how active the environment in the grape’s cells had been in the last two weeks.
We really had to catch the sparkling as soon as possible! We want an elegant, nuanced style of sparkling wine; too many phenolics and overblown aromatics can be extracted from overripe grapes. We started organizing quickly; setting up presses and picking material. By 10:00 the next morning, I had lots of grape samples to process, and full picking bins were already on the crush pad.
This is my fourth vintage at Henry of Pelham, and over the course of each year I familiarize a little more with our site. We do a lot of back vintage tastings, and it confirms the sheer vintage and block variation that we’ve experienced and the subsequent variety of personalities that emerge from the bottles. The wines of previous years tell stories of farms and families—a conversation with the vines beside which we’ve developed.
As I write, there’s about 17 tonnes of Baco Noir rolling in beneath a bright blue sky, and some Chardonnay for sparkling is lined up for the weekend. The 2011 vintage at Henry of Pelham is off to a speedy start!