Controle de Maturité number 2 was yesterday, and it dealt us a big surprise! Our biggest vineyard, planted in grenache, went from 11.5 degrees potential alcohol, to 13.3 in exactly one week. Yikes! Almost 2 degrees, when normally the rule of thumb is one degree per week. Holy cow, shift into high gear. Here I was telling everyone that we wouldn't start harvesting until Saturday the 9th. For a moment we thought we might try to start this Saturday, but in the end we decided not to lose our cool, and to think through things. The first thing I decided to do was to go out and re-do the sugar check, just to make sure that I hadn't accidentally picked only ripe grapes that looked pretty for my "controle". I went to the train station to pick up my mom and then headed straight to the vineyards to pick 100 more grapes (the little individual ones, not whole bunches). We decided to do an experiment though. My mom went through and picked only ones that looked really ripe and I picked ones that didn't look super ripe. When we got home we crushed them separately and tested them separately. The results didn't help us any! The super-ripe ones came in at 14.1 and the not-so-ripe ones came in at 13.1. We blended it together and tried again, 13.5.
While collecting the grapes, I tasted about as many as I collected. Most winemakers say that after a certain point you shouldn't worry about the numbers and go by taste. I had to include this picture of our dog, Daisy. She is our chief taster. She always finds the ripest grapes! They are starting to taste pretty darn good, but my gut feeling was that Saturday was too early to start, so we made the decision to start Tuesday morning, giving us enough time to get properly organized and the grapes to develop their flavors just that little bit more. Let's hope we made the right decision!