Who said one can’t have fun at work?
Three fabulous days of the France Show at Earl’s Court. Thanks to the many friends who came to help promote O’Vineyards B&B – Food & Wine Experience, and our UK/US distributor Naked Wines. Without your help we never could have handled the massive number of visitors requesting info about O’Vineyards Food & Wine!
To top off the trip, a private Soirée was held at Michael & Fay Storie’s house in Kent with dinner cooked by Liz. Joe animated the whole gamut of O’Vineyards wines ordered from Naked Wines by Michael & Fay.
This is a strange year with NO Spring. One day in June…. we just switched the heater to the Air Conditioner… and it looks like we will not have an Autumn!!!!
Anyway, while Joe is harvesting and making the 2013 wines, I want to get into the Holiday spirit and offer our Clients a Special on O’Vineyards Fine Wines!
Enjoy our older vintages dating back to 2005 at today’s prices!
BUY NOW. Get 30% DISCOUNT
…. and get more discount on our Gift Card!
The recipe for our Raclette Lunch can be found in this O’Vineyards B&B page
Ryan is in Napa. Muse filled in and helped Joe and I entertain our Visitors! She takes them for long walks around the vineyard. We always knew she had the potential to do more! and here she is!.. doing a wine tasting … and lunch… “Raclette and Charcuterie” with a bottle of Naked100 2011!
Joe raised his glass to our Naked 100 Share Owners! I do to!…but someone has to take the pictures! Cheers!
Katie Preparing Chef Liz's Hors d'Oeuvres
One Brave Soul in O’Vineyards Kitchen…
One brave soul dared to spend a few hours in the shoes, or rather apron of Chef Liz to participate in one of O’Vineyards’ fascinating Food & Wine Workshop. Katie’s parents hungrily observed the process as she learned how to prepare a multiple-course meal under the guidance of none other than Chef Liz herself. Katie began by testing her skills at preparing Chef Liz’s unique sweet-and-savory hors d’oeuvres:
- Pear-Roquefort Crumpets with almond slices and coconut shavings
- Homemade Spring Rolls and Chef Liz’s garlic and lime soy sauce
- Melted Goat Cheese and Herb Crumpets, starring rosemary and thyme from O’Vineyards very own herb garden (yes, they do grow plants other than grapevines!)
- Black Pudding Stuffed Apples
Not dainted by this initial challenge, Katie dared to attmempt the second step: preparing Liz’s internationally inspired main dishes, including:
- Bami (an Indonesian national dish composed of vermicelli noodles, spring onions and other vegetables)
- Roasted turkey à la crème fraîche with leeks
- Perfectly grilled Merguez, the celebrated lamb- and beef-based sausages typically enjoyed in North African dishes
- Mashed Potatoes with Melted Brie
- Twice-Baked Potatoes à l’Américaine, with fresh chopped bacon, melted brie and chives from the O’Vineyards herb garden
The second-to-last challenge in Katie’s Workshop involved learning which herbs go best with which cheeses. She found that some of the best pairings were sheep’s milk cheese with rosemary, and the brie with a sage leaf.
To finish “avec une petite douceur” (with a little touch of sweetness) — as Mom and Dad’s tastebuds could hardly hold out another minute — Chef Liz walked her through the process of making the perfect Tarte Tatin, a sort of carmelized apple upside down pie, if I may dare. This final challenge proved to be a difficult one: properly carmelizing sugar is no easy task, and neither is the scary-impressive-pie-flip-over step, but Katie pulled off these final stunts with flying colors.
Katie was very proud (and after surmounting the challenge, quite hungry too). The other guests around the table were delighted to taste the end result of Katie’s culinary escapade, accompanied with none other than Joe’s pairing of O’Vineyards delicious wine! Having personally experienced all of these dishes and many more delicious meals paired with O’Vineyards wines at the Winemaker’s Table, I can only say…
“Way to go, Chef!”
Way to Go, Chef!
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
- 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
- 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
Wow, the last couple of weeks in the vines at O’Vineyards have been absolutely mind boggling! After some nice warm weather and the ideal rains the vines have kicked into overdrive with the Syrah leading the way. We found it necessary to temporarily leave the Merlot to attend to the Syrah where the growth has been phenomenal, and that is why you have not seen my wire-lifting in the Merlot as of yet.
I probably would not have thought to include this little lesson for you if everything had gone as planned, but the Syrah is very unpredictable and also very fragile. Is it possible that is something to do with the fact that the syrah is one of the only feminine grape variatels? (just kidding ladies). Anyway, when the Syrah grows in a sudden burst like this, we have to immediately raise the wires to support the new growth or the heavy winds in the region can often break some of the new vines.
before wire lifting
We finished lifting the wires in the Syrah and we are now lifting in the Merlot. I have taken photos of our galvanized posts with the attachment holes to show our capabilities to ajust the height of the wires. Every winter, we lower these wires to the ground after the pruning. Once the vines grow, they start to droop a little bit and we can lift the wires to support their growth and encourage vertical growth. We will go back and lift the wires a few inches higher in just a few weeks to match the plants’ continued development, but this will take much less time than the first lifting. I have posted photos of two rows of Merlot before and after the lifting to illustrate the difference before and after we pass through and lift wires.
after wire lifting
Lifting the wires is an important process. The shoots holding the grapes are now “trained” by the wires to go upward which allows us to maintain a well balanced canopy of leaves to feed the grapes throughout the growing season.
Thanks for following and I hope this gives you a little better understanding about how much time and labor go into the making a bottle of good wine. Next week I plan to show you the flowering of the grape buds.
galvanized posts and wires
spur pruning or cane pruning for the Merlot vines?
Welcome to another episode of wine making 101. Due to the continuing frigid May weather the progress of the vines is not nearly as impressive as I had expected. So, I have elected to try to show you the difference between spur pruning and cane pruning. The object is to get delicious types of red wine no matter what method you choose. The spur pruning method (cordon royat) is when you leave a branch attached to the supporting wire year after year and you trim the shoots down to one or two eyes which will give you new growth each year. We use what is called a double cordon royat where two branches, one in each direction, remain attached each year. We generally try to limit the shoots to not more than four on each side which helps us limit our yields. You can see by the photos that double cordon royat (spur pruning) has shoots that are generally equal in size from one end to the other which will give us a relatively consistent grape quality come harvest time. In comparison, with cane pruning method, (guyot) we select a new branch each year and generally go to just one side with it. We try to limit the length to 8 eyes (potential shoots). When you look at the picture illustrating this method you will notice that the growth at the end of the cane is superior to the shoots closer to the trunk of the vine. This unbalanced growth will continue throughout the entire growing period and the grapes at the furthest point from the trunk will be larger and generally less well balanced. This is why we have chosen the spur pruning method for the vast majority of our vines. One down side to the spur pruning method is that it is not recomended if you choose to harvest by machine because it could significantly shorten the life of the vines. We prefer to hand harvest when we can, so it does not bother us. By the way , anyone interested in harvesting for food and delicious red wines can sign up any time this summer. Harvest runs from late September to mid October and we go from 7AM to about 1PM to make sure we get the grapes in at a cool enough temperature. Then we eat and drink and I have not seen anyone leave disappointed in the past 5 years. OK that’s it for this week. I don’t have my son here to correct my babblings because he is at the London international wine fair, so I hope this is legible.
welcome to week 3 of winemaking 101. To begin this episode I would like to apologize for my often inept ability to convey my thougths clearly in writing. It has been brought to my attention that the literary skills, I aquired at U-Mass Dartmouth sometime back in the 70’s, may be deteriorating a bit. I have promised myself to make a more conscience effort from this point forward but what the hell its all about the content N’EST-CE-PAS!
OK back to the vines. There has been no recognizable change in the vines this past week, probably due to the cold weather and SNOW that I wrote about last week. I have never seen such little activity in the growth of the vines at this time of the year but things appear to be back to normal with plenty of sunshine, warm days, cool nights and steady winds.
The winds of the langaudoc region help to keep the vegatation dry which limits the risk of diseases and should limit the amount of treatments (chemicals) used on the vines. By simply following the advice of the local chamber of agriculture we seem to treat half as much, if not less, than other grape growers in the area.
But I digress, and the treatment story should be an entire post on its own. Anyway, although there was limited change visible in the photos this week, I have a strong feeling next week’s photos will show impressive growth. Thanks for visiting and feel free to comment.
note from Ryan: I was just driving back from Montpellier and the vines closer to the cost are like ready to lift wires (i.e. way ahead of us). It’s crazy what a huge difference there is between our medium altitude micro-terroir and the lower plains on the way to the coast.
Another post from dad as he chronicles the freak snowstorm that we had in the south of France on May 4th. SNOW IN MAY?!
This is Joe the Winemaker with a special bulletin in my continuing coverage of the O’Vineyards Merlot saga.
Normally, these blog updates are weekly. However due to the unprecedented May snow storm, you get two updates this week.
It snowed at O’Vineyards in Carcassonne on May 4th! Unheard of!
People ask, “Should red wine ever be served chilled?” I’m asking if red vines should ever be chilled! We were very worried because there is already a lot of growth on the vines and a late frost could harm them. Additionally, the heavy, wet snow that fell for over an hour could cling to the new growth and break it off. Luckily, the snow failed to cling to the young shoots.
You can see in these photos that the snow mostly stuck to the wooden posts and to the trunks.
By pure speculation (my son calls that “making shit up”) I am going to say the warmth of the ground and stones due to the normally warm temperatures we have experienced over the last two weeks was enough to melt the snow. Anyway, it appears the parcel of Merlot I’m blogging about has escaped any significant damage. But we still have to see how the freeze affects growth over the coming week.
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.