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Springtime Debudding the Vines at Domaine Mirabeau

May is a critical month in the lifecycle of the vines on Domaine Mirabeau. In April, the buds break and begin to swell to show the first leaves and future branches. Then follows the critical process of ‘ebourgeonnage’ or debudding; the viticulturalist and their team select the branches that will help produce the best quality grapes.

Domaine Mirabeau Marketing and Client Relations Manager, Bea caught up with Clément, Consultant Viticulturalist to Mirabeau, to find out more about de-budding at Domaine Mirabeau. Continue reading here for the original article by Mirabeau Wine.

Technical Terms in the Grapevines

The labour of love required to persuade grapevines to produce their fruit year after year is one for only the most patient individuals. Owning a vineyard and producing your wine certainly sounds romantic, to those who might be desk or office-bound. However, the reality of the yearlong process is one of hard physical labour and working with what Mother Nature delivers.

Ageing – Like the rest of us, the wine needs to age to improve its taste and complexity.

Barrel – Or in French, a barrique is used during the fermentation process. For some wines, the liquid is stored longer to incorporate the flavour from the barrels.

Cork – A bottle needs a seal to protect the liquid and let the ageing process continue for the wine. Natural cork comes from a Cork Oak. If harvested correctly, a tree will produce cork every ten years from 25-200 years.

Decanting – This process is not just for “cork dorks.”  The methodology behind decanting is to allow the wine to breathe and to remove the sediment.  Decanting is not just for red wine; some whites benefit from the practice, as well.

Ethanol – Is the alcohol produced by the sugar and yeast.

Fermentation – Begins when yeast is added to the grape juice. The yeast and the sugar from the grapes produce the ethanol. There are two fermentation stages for wine.

Grapes – Without the precious fruit from the vines, there would be nothing to drink. There are thousands of varieties, although only about 100 are commonly used in wine production.

Heat – Other than during the grape growing season, when a bit of warmth is beneficial for the fruit to ripen, heat is generally extremely hurtful to wine. Too much heat often leads to cooked (spoiled) wine.

Imperiale – At six litres, this is one seriously hefty wine bottle. It is the equivalent of eight standard bottles. Do not drink one of these alone!

Juice – Squeezed from the grapes, stems and the skins.

– Sounds like cave the French word for the area where the wine is made and stored.

Label – Or in French l’étiquette is the key to what is in the bottle: alcohol content, grape varieties, vineyard, year etc.

Must – Red wine is created from the pulp (must) of red or black grapes. The juice and the pulp stay together during fermentation.

Nose – You use your nose to smell the bouquet of the wine. The scent also gives a strong clue as to whether the wine is acceptable to drink.

Oenology – Is the science of winemaking.

Pruning  – This process typically occurs in the late fall, in some regions during the winter. It is critical to prune vines annually to stimulate production. This part of the cycle is essential and sensitive. The winemaker makes a judgment on how much to cut each year.

Quiet – The life of a vintner is never quiet. In the season after harvest, there is plenty of work to be done to sell the wine and prepare to restart the whole process again the following year.

Refractometer  – Is a tool used by experts to determine the amount of sugar in the grapes.

Sugar – During the year, as the grapes grow and darken, the sugar level increases. The higher the level of sugar in the grapes at harvest, the better.

Tannins – The grape skins produce tannins, which give wine both flavour and body.

Ugni blanc – A French grape variety that has been grown since the middle ages, and used for white wines.

Vendange – The French word for the harvest.

Weather – This is the least controllable and most critical aspect of wine production. The vines need the right amount of water, sun, moderate temperature and wind to produce quality grapes. The winemaker has some control, but at the end of the day, it is mainly in the hands of Mother Nature.

eXtra Brut – The driest of champagne or sparklingly wine.

Yeast – Is added to the grape juice to create the fermentation process.

Zzzz – The hard-working winemaker has a chance to rest for a few months early in the year.

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Maison Mirabeau Wine

Maison Mirabeau Wine

Stephen had been in the corporate world for 15 years and in August 2008 turned down a promotion that would have meant more money but also more stress, longer hours and less time with his young family. For many years the Cronks had been dreaming and talking about moving to France to make their own wine, but the moment never seemed quite right to make the big leap.

Soon after, a good redundancy offer seemed the perfect opportunity to turn the dream into reality and after selling their beloved house, they left the leafy suburbs of south-west London in August 2009. Their worldly possessions were packed up on the back of a truck and with barely a word of French between them, the family headed south to a small village called Cotignac, in the heart of Provence.

The Cronks spent a year getting their bearings, learning to live the provençal way, as Stephen was criss-crossing the country researching and finding the best vineyards to work with. The next step was setting up a small wine business with the principle objective of making a Provence rosé that would be regarded as one of the very best from the region, while building a brand that people would grow to love. In order to achieve this aim, they put together a highly experienced winemaking team and threw their heart and soul into the brand and innovative communications with their customers. Mirabeau is now being sold in more than 30 markets, has won medals and earned acclaim from some of the world’s toughest wine critics, but what really makes Stephen happiest is that their wines are an integral part of people having a great time together.

Read more about the Mirabeau Wine story here.

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