Romanesque Churches & Satellite Vineyards!
Route talk by the bikes at 8:45. We ride 29.5 km to the Chateau Grange where the owner and wine maker and Max talked about the care of the vines, and the making of the wine from this Chateau. Last night we learned that most of these vineyards are quite small. The ones that started large were divided upon the death of the original owner. By law a surviving spouse and each surviving child received a share. The result was that vineyards became smaller and smaller, and some may even have rows or individual plants that belong to a variety of owners. This Chateau, we are told by the owner is a little over 6 hectares, each hectare is slightly less than 2.5 acres.
The vineyards of Bordeaux cover about 112,000 hectares, about 1.5% of total vineyards world-wide. There are 65 different appellations (all named). Grapes grown for the red wines of Bordeaux are 66% Merlot, 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, Others 2%. Our Chateaux owner told us his vines are about 80% Merlot. Red wines account for about 86% of production in Bordeaux, 9% are dry whites, 4% rose and some sparkling and 1% sweet whites.
On the ride this morning we passed one vineyard after another, and I observed a wide variety of different agricultural practices. Some allowed the grass to grow tall, some it was cut, some it was removed, some of the ground was cultivated, some just cultivated between the rows of vines. Max had explained that the type of grape, the weather, the anticipated weather, the type of soil, the amount of retained moisture, the amount of moisture forecast in the long and short term, the temperature forecast in the short and long term, and a host of other variables, dictated the management practice for each vineyard. Then there is the time-consuming care of the vines to control the amount and type of growth and the number and their location on the plant of the grapes allowed to mature.
The Chateau owner explained that he grows grapes, the wine makes itself. The growing of the grapes is the real art of winemaking in Bordeaux where all the wines are blends and carry the name of a very specific and long defined region, and in some cases the name of the specific Chateau. I like to drink wine but recognize that my understanding of them is rudimentary at best. After learning about the art of grape growing, a tour of the wine making process and a tasting of the Chateau’s product over recent years we enjoyed another outstanding picnic lunch prepared by our group leaders.
After lunch I opted for the 52.6 km ride back to our hotel in St. Emilion, foregoing the 72.8 km option. The weather was cooler than the previous couple of days and not too windy. Much more pleasant for bike riding.
Image of the vineyards of Chateau Grange. Owner on left, Max, Jayson, other members of the group. (I’m embarrassed to admit I cannot put names to their faces.)
Lunch at the winery.