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Bordeaux harvest: day 2

Published:  23 July, 2008

Each day we'll be providing updates from the harvest as it progresses across the world's most famous wine region.

Read on for the second day, which has just been sent from Alexandra Martet at Chateau Lavison, Philippe Bardet at Chateau Val d'Or and Chateau Picoron and Jean-Christophe Mau at Chateau Brown.

This morning I am at Chateau Preuillac with my estate manager, Michel Dufaure, and we're tasting grapes.

They do look and taste pretty good, so we are going to start picking the Merlot around the 10th. One surprise. The small Cabernet Franc parcel appears to be ripening faster than some of the Merlot blocks.

At Brown, we are still picking Merlot. The big surprise for Stephane Derenoncourt and myself during our grape-munching tour of the vineyard was that our best parcel of Cabernet Sauvignon was almost ripe.

This parcel was, until 1994, an orchard and is on the highest part of our vineyard, so is very well drained. These grapes normally form the heart of Chateau Brown's red wine and we have decided to break off picking Merlot so as to pick them on Monday.

The last two days, the temperature has been 17 c at night and 25 c during the day, so genuinely summery. Our Petit Verdot is also ripening well and we expect to pick that too before the last of the Merlot.

We will probably pick on Saturday too because one 2 ha block of Merlot is beginning to show signs of stress (drying out of the stems and yellowing of the canopy).

The weather forecast for the next 3 days is worrying. Variable, cloudy, mild temperatures, some rain and high humidity (80-90%). Ideal conditions for the development of grey rot.. Zut