busy month of August – some good ad some bad news

After the lazy Sunday there was a large gap without any news from Lisson. But that doesn’t mean, that I spend my time reading books in the shadow or bronzing at the nearby Mediterranean seaside (Narbonne Plage at only 60 km from here…).

No, it means rather that it has been a very busy month for me. With a lot of work going on in the vines – which always need cleaning, not to get overgrown by our wild herbs and to keep a salutary, easy drying “atmosphere” around the grapes.

This is Klaus’ work with the brush-cutter – as already shown in June in my article “Ty it up and keep it clean”. Normally there may also be some spraying necessary in the beginning or August (to do it later, would be harmful for the indigenous yeast on the grape skins).

But this year, after a short attack of oidium (powdery mildew – you remember?), we could put away the sprayer and it was not even necessary, to apply copper against mildew – as there wasn’t any (or at least only some small spots, which were quickly dried out by our tramontane winds). So you will have to wait for next year, if you want to see me reporting about my “man in blue” in the Lisson vines.

The good news is, that our grapes went on changing color during all the month, from green to a mixture of green, mauve, purple to nearly black – as we grow mainly red varieties:

Mourvedre 08/01/09

Mourvedre 08/01/09

Mourvedre 08/21/09

Mourvedre 08/21/09

Mourvedre 08/28/09

Mourvedre 08/28/09

You can see, that the branches too changed color, they have become ridged and more wood-like during the last 4 weeks and can now support the growing weight of those grapes. Even the stems are becoming less green, which is important, because we don’t destem after harvest, so if they stay too greenish, we would have a risk of “green” tastes in our wines.

We also had to work on our electric fences, as every year. One of the biggest problems of our vineyard in the middle of the woods is not linked to diseases or even – keep your fingers crossed – bad weather, but is linked to grape lovers, we didn’t count on when we cleaned the hillside to implant our vines: I’m talking about wild boars, badgers and all the other grape lovers on four legs…

Amy from La Gramire talked about them last week – and I wish her more luck than we had, in spite of our solidly fixed 5 fences with batteries and solar panels: when they really smell our fruit – and they know exactly, when it’s is about to contain enough sugar to be considered ripe enough, to give us good wine, they arrive from the woods all around and brave the fences (or dig underneath), and can make a tremendous damage in only one night:

they are inside...

they are inside...

Cot (Malbec) 08/21/09

Cot (Malbec) 08/21/09

Pinot 08/21/09

Pinot 08/21/09

Merlot 08/28/09

Merlot 08/28/09

So the bad news is: nearly one third of our harvest has already disappeared, gulped up by all those animals, who don’t have any serious enemy left – except the hunters, who killed already two of them in the middle of August besides our vines, but who are “overrun” by the enormas amount of wild boars around in our area, since they tried to augment their number about 20 years ago by setting free a cross-breed of domestic pigs and wild ones, which has invaded everything ever since – and as they can give birth to twice as much piglets and bring them up without any problem, as our mild winters and all the oak and chestnut woods, which are no longer cultivated, give them more than they need to eat… cultivating fruit, grapes or even a vegetable garden is about to become impossible in our area…

And it doesn’t help and console me, that some people take it as a proof, that organic farming is superior to conventional farming, as even boars prefer non chemically treated grapes – even it it was true (and so a very “natural” labeling) – it doesn’t give me back the result of a whole years work and it won’t fill my barrels and the bottles later…

So: Good luck to you, Amy, I will keep my fingers crossed for your Roussane!

And you may all do the same for our late riping grapes as Mourvedre, Cabernets and Petit Verdot, who are not yet sufficiently ripe to start “rescuing” them…

dancing vines and more flowers

Some thunderstorms during the last week, but luckily no hail – and in between once again some sunny days – looks a bit like April weather at the moment, with temperatures changing easily bout 10C (50F) from one day to the other…

Once again, I walk the wines uphill, to see, whether everything is all right, if there are no signs of leave-diseases, like mildew or powdery mildew, which would urge us to spray. As we try to work by limiting spraying in the wines to the strict minimum, we have to be attentive. Till now, we just has one passage of sulphor powder in the small Echelles terraces, to prevent oidium, as powdery mildew is called in France.

spraying sulphor

spraying sulphor

It has to be done with a back-pack-sprayer and a helmet, to protect from the sulphor dust… and is not the most pleasant thing to do…

But fortunately, we often have good wind after a rainy day – our preferred is called tramontane – a straight north-west, our local version of the famous mistral, which helps to dry the leaves on the terraces rather quickly, so fungus has less chance to spread around.

I couldn’t resist to take some photos of the fresh vine shoots against the sky – performing their elegant dance in the breeze…

dancing vines

dancing vines

All different in their elegant movement

dancing vine

dancing vine

listening to a secret melody

dancing vine

dancing vine

And while the shoots are growing every day, the flowering of the little grapes goes on. In a few days, even the Cabernet Sauvignon started

flowering Cabernet Sauvignon

flowering Cabernet Sauvignon

– now we will just have to wait for the Mourvedre – the “latest” to flower and ripen of our grape varieties, which is the base of our Cuve Clos des Cedres.

Mourvedre and solar pannels

Mourvedre and solar pannels

We’ll talk about the solar panels in the background later – it’s our way to produce all the energy necessary at Lisson:-).