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Gimmickry, or good?

Fairly simple, I noticed this on a bottle of Plaimont St Mont blanc earlier…

I’ve never come across this before. Is there any basis in science/taste/experience for the claim it makes?

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The vineyard manager at Bride Valley told us the other day that, when he was working in South Africa, they would stop picking through the hottest part of the day, and I don’t think it was to spare the pickers. So it possibly helps to pick when the grapes are cool, but I doubt that there’s any mystical property of dawn. Maybe the biodynamicists have a view on this? I’d be interested to know.

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I have seen this claim only once before (trying hard to remember which bottle!!) - but it was ‘harvested at night’ (rather than dawn). The idea was that the cool of the night kept the acidity and preserved the freshness and aroma - so the grapes arrived at the winery at a cool temperature already.

At least I think that’s what it said…! Will have a look at my notes to find out what the wine was.

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Some producers in warmer areas of Australia have been picking white grapes at night, and then processing soon after, for a couple of decades to try and retain natural freshness. I have no idea about the science myself but winemakers down under aren’t normally swayed by pseudo science so I’d assume it’s beneficial.

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Yes pretty well the same thoughts. Perhaps a slights expansion - when I listened to Vanya Cullen talk about her wines it was all about working with the rythem of the cosmos and being attuned with the natural rythems of the ecosystem. I would imagine that picking time also fits into this rythem. Whether you are on board or not, it was very interesting and she was quite the engaging character :grin:

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Pretty sure I’ve heard or read this too, but no idea where or when (or whether I imagined it)

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Viognier “nocturne” sold by Waitrose

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Ah, interesting! Though I’m 99% sure that mine was a red.

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Hmm. Sounds like they are selling you something extra, you have already paid for. All wine harvests start at dawn

Last century :slight_smile: I worked the vendange in Beaujolais, and we were in the vineyards before sunrise… had a good 2 hours break midday. Before resuming work until sunset.

So to make out this vineyard is doing something special and worth a premium is disingenuous. Do other vineyards employ workers to snooze til 11 and just work a half day ? yes acidity levels will be higher in the cool morning… but also labour costs and machinery will be at a fixed day-rate so the vineyard might make the most of it and work every hour god sends.

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Night picking is not uncommon in hot climates. You want your grapes to be cool, especially if they are to be transported to a winery.

Machine picking at night is much easier than hand picking. I’ve seen videos of hand pickers wearing headband torches, but it’s difficult enough in the daytime to find grape bunches hiding behind leaves or getting those growing around trellis wires so I guess that hand picking at night isn’t as effective.

Only advantage of dawn that I can imagine is the grapes are still cool and there’s natural light for picking.

But (says the cynic in me) … how long does dawn last? :slight_smile: Can an entire vineyard be picked in the space of time we call dawn, or would it be more correct to claim that picking started at dawn?

Why harvest at night?

This video of a night time machine harvest in Provence explains

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My understanding of Plaimont’s Co-Operative charter is that you have to pick by hand to be part of it, so I’m guessing daytime rather than night time picking. The cool grapes part I get - I think La Rioja Alta use refrigerated trucks at harvest-time to keep the grapes cool.

In fact, thinking about it, the huge amount of morning dew you can get in the SW in Autumn time would surely lead to watering down and make them lack concentration, no?

I’m not sure here, I get the principle in a round-about-way, but I’m not sure it’s worth shouting about with a label :grinning:

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Anything that gives a marketing edge on a crowded supermarket shelf helps sales…

So, it’s a co-operative. Imagine the reaction of all those French farmers being told they must pick grapes destined for this wine at dawn because the marketing team have decided that the boast will look good on the label… :grin:

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And thinking even more…

What time do they stop picking, and what happens to the grape they have picked. Are they left in the sun till a truck from the co-operative comes for them?

More likely (from what I’ve seen) they go in a trailer which the farmer then hitches to his tractor to drive slowly in the full sun to the winery. There he waits in a queue in the sun and in increasing heat with other farmers who’ve ‘harvested at dawn’ for the grapes to be weighed and the sugar level analysed before they can be tipped in a destemmer.

So, IMO the label claim is, while no doubt true, not the whole story.

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Perhaps (devils advocate) the early picked grapes go into a separate cuvee? delicately trodden by prancing unicorns etc.
The rest of the days picking under the beating sun, crushed by herds of unwashed wildebeast sweeping in from the midi, to be sold without the valuable sticker & associated mark-up.

I could be wrong though…

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I once gave a day’s free labour to an urban winery in London, sorting barbera grapes that had come out of a refrigerated truck from northern Italy. I remember the winemaker saying he thought grapes that had been refrigerated for 24hrs after picking were in better condition and gave better results than those that went straight from vine to sorting table. He’d previously worked (among other places) somewhere in St Emilion where the chateau picked and then refrigerated for 24hrs on site before touching the grapes.

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My first thought would be, a la Mandy Rice-Davies, ‘well he would say that wouldn’t he’! :grinning:

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Well, maybe! But that’s why I mentioned the St Emilion snippet where there was no transport involved. I swallowed it anyway. :smile:

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Maybe this one Inbar ?

Their website gives a non technical raison d’etre

http://www.nightharvest.com.au/About-Us/about-night-harvest.html