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Frederic Engerer's Harvest Diary

Posted: October 6, 2000

Frederic Engerer's Harvest Diary

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Nick Goldschmidt

Ken Brown

Michael Beaulac

Dirk Hampson

Nadine Gublin

Emanuela and Roberto Stucchi Prinetti

Tuesday, September 12, 3:00 p.m.

The red grape harvest has not yet begun at Château Latour, reports Frédéric Engerer. He said he expects it to begin sometime between Saturday, Sept. 16, and Tuesday, Sept. 19 -- most likely later rather than sooner.

Monday, Sept. 18, 5:30 p.m.

Harvesting at Château Latour still has not begun -- and it won't begin until next Monday, according to Frédéric Engerer. "We've had some amazing weather," he says, remarking that the nice weather of this past weekend gave him the chance to go to the beach and do some surfing. However, with little more than 1 inch of rainfall in the area since Aug. 1, the grapes are not yet ready to be picked.

According to Engerer, the sugar level in the grapes is great, but the structure -- the maturity of components such as seeds and skins -- has not fully developed. "We would've enjoyed a little more rain at the end of August," he says, adding that the plants have taken longer to mature due to the lack of rain.

Engerer reports that Bordeaux is expected to get rain on Tuesday or Wednesday, with sunny skies returning by the end of the week.

When harvesting does begin, the Merlot and Petit Verdot grapes will be picked first, then the Cabernet Sauvignon. Engerer stresses that in the meantime, it's important to be patient and wait for the grapes to ripen fully.

Friday, Sept. 22, 4 p.m.

The harvest finally began at Château Latour -- earlier than Frédéric Engerer expected. This morning, workers picked Merlot grapes under sunny skies.

"So far it's just an ideal situation," says Engerer. "The weather is perfect, and what we're harvesting is perfect."

The weather is supposed to be good tomorrow, but clear skies will yield to rain on Sunday, according to Engerer, so he is not planning to harvest then. But the forecast looks promising for the beginning of next week: Engerer expects clouds on Monday and better weather on Tuesday.

He expects to begin harvesting his Cabernet Sauvignon grapes no earlier than Thursday. As for the crop picked so far, Engerer reports, "The grapes are fabulous. There's no rot at all. I haven't seen healthy grapes like this in a while. It's very encouraging."

Thursday, Oct. 5, 11:30 a.m.

As Château Latour completes its harvest, Frédéric Engerer finds "all the ingredients to be optimistic" about a very good vintage. He says that the quality, maturity and balance of acids and sugars in the grapes are encouraging, but because it is so early in the process and not all of the Cabernet Sauvignon vats have finished fermenting, he is reluctant to forecast beyond that.

The Merlot, which can make up as much as 25 percent of Latour's grand vin blend, has finished fermentation. Engerer describes it as "complex, rich, extremely ripe and elegant," but once again, adds that since the wine is so young, it's too soon to make claims about the overall quality. "We are optimistic," he says, "but we are not over-optimistic."

The harvesting of the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes occurred from Sept. 28 through Oct. 2. The weather cooperated save for a few light showers on Sept. 28 and 30. Engerer is pleased with the grapes, calling them "tight, dense and healthy."

"This has to become very good wine," he says of the vintage, "but will it become exceptional? That's the question mark."

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