winemaking 101 with Joe the Winemaker

Just a few miles outside of Carcassonne, you can see a collection of different grape varieties like Syrah, Grenache, Macabeu, Mauzac, Picquepoul, Terret, Vermentino, and more!   Just before budbreak 2012, dad planted the ampelographic garden at O’Vineyards.

A big thanks to the Chambre d’Agriculture who helped us find the best grape varieties, choosing the right clones to demonstrate varietal typicity on our terroir at O’Vineyards.

What is an Ampelographic Garden?

Ampelography is a big word used to describe the visual study and identification of grape vines.   And that’s basically what you can do here.  Wander down a row of vines and see if you can tell the difference between Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.  Or can you tell Clairette from Picquepoul?  Which plants have leaves split into three parts and which have leaves with five parts?  Which varieties have the most ample fruit clusters?  The most leaf growth?  And so on.

Why is this fun and not just for wine nerds?

It’s just a few dozen plants, and it seems pretty nerdy, but we think it’ll be very fun.

A lot of the folks who visit O’Vineyards ask what the difference is between Merlot and Shiraz.  So it’s great to have a simple visual demonstration of how each of these varieties are unique and specially adapted to different conditions.  It’s much more exciting to show people some examples of differences than just saying “Well they’re all genetically different which results in having varying amount, shape, size and placement of leaves and fruit.”

Varietial wine are very popular in many countries.  Often times, people will just ask me “what type of wine is this?” meaning what varieties is it made up of?  Wine drinkers in the US and UK are always keen to learn the difference between grape varieties.

Planting the Grape Vines:

Some photos of Joe O’Connell planting his young vines and Jean Heritier, director at the Chambre d’Agriculture de l’Aude, helping out.

Here’s a full list of the grape varieties (and their clones and rootstocks) in our ampelographic garden… before anybody yells at me, I know some of these aren’t mediterranean.  But they should be fun to look at and they might exemplify the special climate we have in the Cabardes north of Carcassonne that allows us to grow some grape varieties like Merlot, Cot, and Cabernet

Reds:

  • Cabernet Franc – 332 CALMET / 110 R
  • Cabernet Sauvignon – 15 / 161 49 C
  • Syrah – 524 / 161 49 C
  • Terret – CONS / 1103 P
  • Carignan – 274 / 333 EM
  • Cinsault – BED PLAI / 110 R
  • Cot (Malbec) – 594/ 140 RU
  • Grenache Noir – 433 / FERCAL
  • Marselan – 980 / SO4
  • Merlot – 184 CAL / FERCAL
  • Mourvedre – 360 / 110 R
  • Pinot Noir – 375 / 140 RU
Whites:
  • Chardonnay – 96/ SO4
  • Chenin – 220/ SO4
  • Grenache Blanc – 143 / 110 R
  • Macabeu – CONS MAC PR / 110 R
  • Marsanne – 574 / FERCAL
  • Mauzac – 740 / 140 RU
  • Roussanne – 468 / 333 EM
  • Sauvignon – 108 / SO4
  • Vermentino – 795 / 140 RU
  • Clairette (gris) – CONS / 1103 P
  • Picquepoul (gris) – CONS / 1103 P

 

This post is brought to you by my dad.  He’s the guy who does all the work around here while I sit around drunk-tweeting.

fellow wine-lovers. It is my sincere intention to keep you informed of the progress of our vines from the budbreak to the harvest. I will try to be as explicit as possible and will be happy to respond to any questions you may have. We will be primarily following the growth of our merlot which is located quite close to the winery so I will have few excuses not to keep you updated. We have just finished our winter trim and I have posted a few photos to illustrate what I am talking about. The trimmings are torn down and dropped in the middle of the row where they will be mulched in place.  The middle wires on the trellis system must now be lowered before the budbreak to limit damage. We have about one week to accomplish this judging by the start of growth on some of the vines. You will be amazed when you see next weeks photos of the vines.

How to find us

Domaine O’Vineyards is just a few kilometres north of Carcassonne. GPS coordinates: 43.259622, 2.340387

Domaine O’Vineyards
885 Avenue de la Montagne Noire
11620 Villemoustaussou, France
Tel: +33(0) 630 189 910

  1. Follow the signs to Mazamet/ Villemoustaussou until the D118 (the last straight road) and the Dyneff gas station on the roundabout.
  2. Take the exit towards Pennautier. Continue 500m to a small roundabout and go straight over.
  3. Look out for the second road on your right, Avenue des Cévennes which goes up hill (about 1km) to Avenue de la Montagne Noire.
  4. At the last juction, bear left at the road sign “Ave de la Montagne Noire” (confusing as it seems to show a right turn)
  5. After another 500m you will see our red brick color building in the middle of the vines.