the cellar news is good from the Valley. At Gigondas, Louis Barruol of Château Saint Cosmelikens 2011 to 2000 in terms of quality. "I finished harvesting on 1 October, with potentially high degrees bugging me, so it was two weeks early this year," he related. "The physiological maturity was similar to 2001, not bad at all, and the wines have good colour and tannin levels." Louis has been running hither and thither even more than usual, since our collaboration on a book entitled GIGONDAS Its Wines, Its Land, Its People is about to see the light of day next month. This will also appear in French, which has been a lot of hard work for yours truly, vous savez. Close-up details to follow next month.
At Saint-Joseph, Jean Gonon of Domaine Gonon, whose father Pierre has recently died (see Goings-On), told me that they were satisfied, having been worried in early September that, while the grapes seemed ripe, they weren`t actually ripe. "We had 1 mm of rain on 3 September and 4 mm on 5 September, which was decisive, and we picked the white crop from 6-9 September, then paused and did the rest on 21-22 September. The Syrahs were harvested from 12 September. The only Syrah destemming was on the young vines` crop. The whites are 14° -14.2°, and the Syrah is 12.9° -13.9°. Papa died the day after our last vat had been pressed, the next day, which was somehow appropriate after his illness."
CORNAS, our Cheval Mascot, finished a highly distinguished second in his race at Enghien, chasing home the local star mare (he is a gelding, so please cast aside any thoughts in that direction). He raced prominently, and just tired after the last fence. It was a typically Cornasien effort, gritty and plucky, and in unknown territory among the Gauls and their fiery punters he held the drapeau high. BIEN FAIT, CORNAS!
Previously: CORNAS emerges from his summer holidays in Devon, the South-West of England, on a bold cross-Channel venture. He races on Friday 7 October, at Enghien, near Paris, in a 2 mile, 3 furlong or 3,800 metres steeplechase worth €100,000. There is a field of nine, and the jumps involve obstacles such as an Earth Wall, a hurdle, an Oxer, an Open Ditch and a sinister-sounding Talus Breton. He was 41/1 a few hours before the race. ALLEZ CORNAS! BONNE CHANCE, CORNAS! You remain better known internationally than the Mayor of Cornas.
Vinifications have been proceeding smoothly, with the last week of September and the first week of October providing a wonderful Indian summer - early mornings at around 10°, then days moving to 27°-29°C at Côte-Rôtie, for instance. From there, Nicole Levet from Domaine Levet told me that they were about to finish the last pressings on 6 October, their fermentations and macerations lasting about three weeks all told. "We harvested in four days between 12 and 16 September," she related; "I noticed that some growers started too soon this year; we had a lost week from 20 to 28 August, when the degree didn`t move at all, while in the two weeks up until 12 September, the gain was 2°. I told our daughter Agnès to be steady, to be patient. It`s also true that domaines are often larger than they were 10 years ago, and feel the need to get the crop in quickly. We can harvest our whole vineyard in around four and a half days, using a regular team of 12 people that include a policeman, a fireman, retired friends and young people not in work." Madame Levet is the daughter of Marius Chambeyron, one of the pillars of Ampuis back in the 1960s and 1970s, and her experience reaches a long way.