‘Haute Couture’ Growing

I wanted to share with you our latest news.

We are in the process of pruning our 500,000 red and 80,000 white vines. This is an essential step both for the long-term health of our vineyard and for the quality of the upcoming vintage.

I cannot overstate the importance of the art of vine pruning. 800 to 1000 vines are pruned each day between December and March, depending on the experience of the pruner or ‘vigneron’. Those with the most experience work alone in their dedicated plots while the newcomers work in groups under the supervision of the most experienced. 

The art is then to select the most vigorous branches – those judged most likely to initiate fruit-bearing buds – with fruit well positioned according to the trellis system. These buds will form the branches that we will prune the following year. It is work of ‘haute couture’ precision, and I would like to point out that pruning and ‘pliage’ (bending of the shoots, following pruning) of all Fieuzal vines is carried out by estate employees rather than external teams.

The particularity in 2022 is that we have left 10ha (approximately 80,000 vines), a significant area of our estate, to be pruned later in the season to delay budburst and therefore the exposure of buds to a potential spring frost. This new approach will have an impact on the monitoring of our vines for the first half of 2022.

The ‘thermal time’ indicator (TT) is the accumulated sum of daily temperatures above 10˚C since 1st January, which we record on a weekly basis. It is interesting to note that on Monday, March, 7th, the ‘TT’ is at 45°C days (Cd) compared with 65°Cd in 2021 and 72°Cd in 2020. I am pleased to observe this given that budburst normally takes place between 80 and 90°Cd. The warm weather can wait!

2021, the twentieth vintage of the Quinn family at Fieuzal, is now in barrel. This delicate transfer process from the tanks took Jean-Charles, our cellar master, and Charlotte one whole month.

Great care is required when moving the wine between our tanks and barrels so as to preserve all the characteristics obtained during vinification.

We carefully controlled the position, alignment and hygiene of our barrels before this singular vintage entered them – a vintage characterised by its remarkable purity. Wonderful aromas have returned to the barrel cellars and we must now closely watch over each barrel. It is crucial to keep them topped up with wine as it evaporates and is absorbed by the oak.

The wines have to adapt to their new environment and begin the maturation process. At the beginning of April we will start to taste them and define the most suitable blends for our new creation.

The final blend of 2020 has been decided upon. It is deliciously silky – both delicate and fruit-rich – with a particular freshness that gives a real sense of refinement. Bottling is planned for the end of June.

I will be back in touch after the ‘Ice Saints’ days’.

Speak soon,

Stephen Carrier, Winemaker

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