Harvest at Chateau Moya & Gaby in Bordeaux, France
We’re back…and this is our last harvest post for this year!
After finishing the picking of the Merlot and Cabernet Franc at Chateau Gaby on Wednesday (12/10) last week, we turn our attention to Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux where our Chateau Moya occupies a limestone hilltop of 8 hectares (20 acres) just a few miles to the east of Saint Emilion…
The final few days of harvesting at Gaby last week saw us pick, select and vinify Merlot from the latest ripening plots on the hilltops surrounding the Chateau.
The highlight was the inauguration of the 5 brand new oak vats in the Gaby cellar which allowed us to further our plot selection and even isolate a whole wooden vat of Cabernet Franc for the first time ever.
The Cab Franc varietal is precocious and very susceptible to disease and rot but it is also one of winemaker Damien’s favorites for its the delicate, perfumed structure it brings to the Gaby blend. Our Cabernet Franc vines are 15-20 years old on average and they grow on the limestone slope just below the house and swimming pool on the south side.
Many visitors to Gaby and Moya during the harvest were surprised by Damien’s cold macerations in wooden vats, chilling the fruit to 0-2 Celsius in order to freeze the berries, keep oxygen off them and lock in their fresh aromas before gradual temperature increase leading up to yeast activation and fermentation. Gaby and Moya wines finish full of finesse and fresh fruit aromas and length on the palate thanks to the use of low temperatures, low oxygen exposure and limited sulfites during winemaking!
So, leaving just the Cabernet Sauvignon to be harvested on the final day (20th October), the equipment and the harvesters made the 13 mile journey east across Libourne and Saint Emilion from Gaby to Moya to start on 17th…
Moya was the name given to this tiny 20 acre limestone outcrop in 2008 when David Curl and his wife Genevieve looked to add acreage to Gaby but finished by buying in the Cotes de Castillon region! The Moya plots are almost all on steep slopes around the winery, with the guest house and acacia trees lining the plateau. Genevieve’s mother was a stunning South African beauty queen named ‘Moya Meaker‘ so the Moya name is long-running in the family…
Moya’s varietals are even more Merlot dominated than Gaby (93% Merlot and 7% Cab Sauvignon) and since acquisition in 2008, the estate has been farmed exclusively using organic methods. The young winery boasts oak vats as well as stainless steel which favor the aforementioned punching down during winemaking.
Moya’s fruit was picked on the 17th/18th/19th October this year as it ripened later than many parts of Gaby. This estate is exposed to the elements and where Gaby’s proximity to the Dordogne River has a protective influence. Moya has been subject to significant hail damage in the 2009 and 2013 vintages in particular.
From the first day at Moya this year, the bunches looked copious and the grapes clean, ripe and devoid of disease…a lot of hard work went into meticulous pruning and shaping of the vines shoots and then canopy management to allow for sufficient aeration of the bunches during ripening.
In the winery, take a look at the stainless steel vats in the pictures. A winemaker and artist who is a dear friend of the Gaby team spent a few days creating a beautiful sequence of artwork paying homage to the team and the departing owners the Curl family! Check out Audrey’s website here.
We picked merrily from Monday to Wednesday at Moya, a lunch highlight for the pickers being Ghislain’s Roast Leg of Lamb with butter beans, carrots and bacon followed by pear tarte and creme anglaise!
The punching down and pumping over continues in both of our wineries over the next few weeks and I can tell you that we have aromatics, colour and persistence of flavour in spades this year…look out for press tasting notes of the 2016 vintage coming to you next spring!
Gaby and Moya are handed over to new owner Tom Sullivan tomorrow afternoon 25/10 and with that I bid you wine lovers farewell! The 2016 harvest and blog is a wrap!