Saturday, October 12, 2013

Chateau Vieux Chevrol

I haven't had much time to post this week. A lot of catch up but, little by little, I am getting more material from the Vendange 2013 at Chateau Vieux Chevrol. I ran across this video made about 3 years ago about Chateau Vieux Chevrol, in Neac, France where I have worked since 2002. It is located in the Lalande de Pomerol region, situated about 8 kilometers east of Libourne, between the Pomerol and the St. Emilion regions. Yes, it is in French, but that's the language we speak here. It is an interview with the owner, Jean-Pierre Champseix, who passionately explains the art, technique and tradition of the way wine is made at Vieux Chevrol. I am very grateful for Jean-Pierre's patience in explaining and attempting to educate me in the tradition and letting me be a part of it. This is a place where traditional methods rule. There is no flavor but the grapes themselves and the natural aging in oak casks. To have the appellation, Lalande de Pomerol, the vines are not fertilized, or irrigated. It is the conditions of each year that dictate the nature of the grapes. It is the variations in the  of the earth itself in the various parcels of land of the Chateau that create the flavor. The two grape varieties used are Merlot and Cabernet. I participate in l'empamprage, the spring trimming and cleanup of the vines and remove all the excess buds. Later in the mid summer I work for a few weeks on what is called, Le Vendange Vert, where we remove the excess foliage and bunches of grapes so each plant has the optimal conditions to produce healthy fruit. Other Chateaux have compromised and modernized.  In fact Vieux Chevrol has made a major investment in it's future with a new state of the art "cave" with a temperature regulation system to maintain perfect conditions for the initial fermentation, but the cultivation and harvesting is all by hand. It is, as Jean-Pierre says in the video, his revenge! I really enjoy the Vendange, the harvest. I always make new friends. We are a group of 25 people, French, Dutch, Moroccan, occasionally English and always one sole American, me. I am the best damn American porter in France! I am so happy to be able to easily do this work. The best thing is after I finish, I always feel so much healthier than when I started! I love being outside all the time. Here's a few pictures and videos of the Vendange 2013, good friends, good food, good times and pride in our hard work!
The dawn view facing North of the Vieux Chevrol vines
Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work we go at 8 am.....
Grape Pickers In Action
A very interesting place, the highest hill in the area, a place called La Montagne
Where there are medieval windmills which have been restored using the original
7 varieties of wood for the different parts of the machinery.
The perfect place for an apero on an early autumn night.
That's me, microdot, Stef, the other blues brother and Celine.
The last day, after a torrential storm. I christened that particular puddle,
Lake Stanley....don't ask...we worked 10 hours in the mud that day.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself and can't wait to do it again!
Here's a little video of the inside of the new cave. The pressed grapes are emptied into the stainless steel fermentation tanks for the initial fermentation. The tanks are kept at a steady temperature by a monitored system which controls the temperature with pipes of hot or cold water. The water is drawn from a well over 30 meters deep under the cave. When the wine reaches the proper alcohol and sugar level, it is then put into oak casks and aged for almost a year before it is bottled. The young man working in the video is Michel Champseix who I have known since he was 7 years old. I hope I am able to continue to do this for many years to come!
One more video, my friend Mohamed who is one of the full time employees at Vieux Chevrol. He is a master of all he surveys!

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