A Winter’s Tale – February photo journal

A Winter’s Tale – February photo journal

Posted by Gavin Quinney on 28th Feb 2022

Our newly bottled wines are currently on the road, or are about to be, and a mad March offer will be going out for the UK as soon as the stock is booked into our London warehouse. (For elsewhere, do get in touch.)

In the meantime, here is our monthly photo journal. We've grandly called it 'A Winter's Tale' because it actually covers January too, as last month's missive was taken up by our rant against HM Treasury's impending duty doom. Many thanks to everyone who wrote to their MP and for letting us know how it went. More on this anon.

All the best,

Gavin & Angela Quinney

A Winter's Tale - February photo journal

A Winter’s Tale – well, January and February in the vineyard. Not one of the most pressing or important items of news right now but we thought we’d share some images with you.

A 40 minute bus ride from us is the wonderful city of Bordeaux, pictured at the end of last week. There is a sophisticated, more urban alternative to life on the vineyard.

Back to our rural idyll and our chickens enjoy their moments in the sun by the vines.

Even Margaux puts up with the ladies having a free range time of it by the house.

The start of the year and January is the time when we think how on earth are we going to get all these vines pruned before spring.

Our trusty team of Daniel, Nelly, Bruno and a couple of other regulars at work.

The leafless driveway but with fewer visitors there’s more time to focus on the tasks in hand.

Nelly and Daniel tackling older vines with new secateurs.

The most recent models of electric secateurs make life much easier with their lighter rechargeable batteries, like the one behind Nelly hanging from her pocket.

Some of the older, misshaped vines need careful examination before the wood is cut away, though conferences about how each pruner would tackle any given vine are thankfully rare.

Younger vines here – Merlot for our rosé, planted in 2015 – and the animals are helping out. Sort of.

The 15,000 teenage vines in this block were planted in 2007.

Winter pruning – here, of Sauvignon Blanc – can be a lonely affair.

After the pruning, there’s the less skilled but no less arduous task of pulling away the old branches. Usually by one of our regular seasonal workers, like Patrick and Sandra.

In Winter, you get more of a sense of the calming symmetry of the vineyards.

Blue skies, winter mist and a warm day ahead.

Before the sun comes up it can be bitterly cold.

The pruned branches won’t be tied down onto the training wires until it’s warmer and the wood less brittle. Sauvignon Blanc is relatively fragile so we have to be careful not to snap the branches when they’re folded downwards.

Sauvignon Blanc with our anti-hail nets lifted up to allow the pruning to be carried out. They’re still only for testing to see how long they’d last – any less than 8-10 years and the upfront investment wouldn’t be worth it.

Older Sémillon in Les Trois Hectares by the tree-lined drive.

These younger Merlot vines, for our rosé, were planted in 2015.

Last summer we prepared these slopes running down from the château in readiness to have vines planted here this year. Then the family voted that we prefer the outlook as it is, and that any vines might block the view of any future lake (project number 372) at the bottom of the hill.

The ‘before the pruning’ shot of the Merlot in front of the château.

The ‘after the pruning’ shot of Patrick pulling away the discarded branches.

The following day brought kinder weather.

Like the vines, the tractors and machinery have a quieter time of it.

The ground is far too cold to be knocking posts in.

Winter, oak and Sauvignon Blanc beyond.

Sémillon vines in winter, planted in 2004. These we reserve for our Crémant.

Older Sémillon having just had the snip.

There’s something about old vines all year round.

Young Cabernet Franc vines – again, for our rosé.

One of our favourite views of our vines. Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon for what it’s worth.

Merlot for our rosé in the foreground and beyond.

We get many birds at Bauduc at certain times of the year.

Talking of which, the chickens explore the ground roughed up by the wild boar. And below our bird feeders.

Goose the cat with the oak barrels of 2020 red, and Margaux and Pavie at one with nature.

The labels have arrived. Hoorah. We design them in winter, following the harvest of white and rosé and the summer bottling of the previous year’s red, and have one annual print run. A few bespoke labels are printed separately from time to time.

The bottles arrived too, and this took some effort to source them on time. My word, our ‘dry goods’ have gone up in price – notably bottles and cartons.

The bottling of the 2021 whites – and rosé.

‘Mis en bouteille au Château.’

Funnily enough, our bottles for our whites are a different colour to the standard dark green. And with a screwcap fitting they’re harder to find here. And the suppliers know it, which is why all our bottles have already been paid for.

Daniel keeping an eye on things.

We have to make sure we match up the labels to the right back labels, and to the cases.

When we bottle the reds with a cork (usually, in the middle of the year), we don’t label the wines at the same time. We keep the bottles upright for long enough for the cork to expand into the neck of the bottle and then stack them in metal box pallets. Labelling is carried out later – often some years later – prior to shipping.

With screwcaps we prefer to bottle, label and pack into cases at the same time. This is, in theory, safer for the screwcaps than packing the bottles into metal box pallets for labelling later. But also because a lot of wine can leave quite soon after bottling.

Our dry, pale rosé being bottled in the customary clear glass.

They look jolly smart.

Wine – bottles – cases. A simple enough idea for which a stack of things can go wrong…

… not least with labels.

Oops – Eric’s helping out but not wearing gloves. Naughty.

Back to the vineyard. Sandra pulling out the old branches – the tirage de bois.

Ange and Sophie walking the hounds. Sophie’s brolly is a reminder that we need some decent Château Bauduc brollies for visitors.

Finally, a quick family shot. It was great to have Georgie our schoolteacher back for half term. Bugs, not pictured, is coming home from Canada for this week, before Tom flies off on some gap year travels. Onwards and upwards.