The Ponty Family wishes you and your loved ones a very Happy New Year: Happiness, Good Health, and Good Wines in 2015! We hope to see you soon, whether at our home in Fronsac, or during one of our trips.
It’s early October in France and we just finished harvesting our 2014 vintage. Fortunately, the weather of September in Fronsac was warm and dry, and there was much sunshine to ensure the great vintage we hoped for following doubts after a cool and rainy summer.
Our team of 15 harvesters started hand picking the grapes on September 24th. They are usually students looking to experience the harvest before school starts, or locals who come to our winery year after year. This year we started the harvest with Clos Virolle, the vineyard close to the river with sandy soils leading to earlier maturation of the grapes, and finished with Chateau Grand Renouil where the cool soils and old vines require more time to reach the perfect maturity.
The best time to pick the grapes is in the morning, when the grapes are still cool from the night’s low temperatures. Our pickers work in teams of two for each row on the vineyard. Carriers (usually men) collect the baskets from 3-4 pickers and bring their bucket full of grapes back to the tractor. The goal is to bring the grapes back to the cellar while they are still fresh. Once there, we put the grapes through a machine called “erafleuse”, which separates the stems from the berries, and sends the berries to the vats where the fermentation process will start almost immediately.
Only 20% of French wineries still harvest by hand today, but we believe it is a necessary step to achieve great wines. Moving forward, we now need to carefully monitor the fermentation process in the cellar where the sugar turns into alcohol. The next few months until December will be crucial for us to make the best use of our grapes and put our family signature onto this vintage. The grapes are in the vats but the work is not over yet!
Wishing you a great month of October!
For the Ponty Family,
After a shortage due to too much popularity on our Blanc de Grand Renouil, we are happy to announce that we just finished bottling our 2013 vintage, which is now available for sale. Part of the 3000 bottles production was pre-sold, and we will do our best to accommodate all requests, but don’t wait too long!
As July came to an end, grapes slowly started turning from green to red, ripening until mid-August. During summer, our role is to create all the conditions for the grapes to reach their best potential for the harvest. So how do we do that? First step is the “effeuillage”: removing the lower leaves from the vines so that the sun shines directly on the grapes, allowing for faster maturation and faster drying when it rains, lowering the chances of rot. Second step is the “green harvest”: cutting down some of the grapes on the vines, to keep only the best. These lucky ones will then receive more nutrients from the soil, resulting in a richer grape juice, and thus richer wine. As for everything we do, those delicate steps are done by hand in our winery.
We are now expecting the 2014 harvest to start around September 22nd. Many harvesters are already booking their spot to be part of the challenging, but very fun, experience of the harvest. If you want to see a “traditional” grape harvest done by hand, feel free to come and visit us at that time.
Enjoy your summer,
On behalf of the Ponty Family,
April is always an important month in Bordeaux. Every year, the first week of April, wine professionals and journalists from all over the world gather in Bordeaux for the “en primeurs” week. They taste the wine harvested in the fall, and the wineries start to disclose their prices for this vintage.
For us, this special week is a good time to share with you our decisions for the 2013 vintage. You already know that 2013 was a difficult year. It rained a lot in Bordeaux, the quantities harvested were very small, and after keeping only the best grapes, we produced very little. With such tiny quantities, and a quality that we believe didn’t meet our standards, we decided not to release any bottle of our Chateau Grand Renouil for 2013.
We made this decision because what matters most to us is the promise we made to all of you of a stable quality every year, and to maintain our reputation for producing high quality wines. For our other wines, we are confident that we can fulfill that promise, with quantities averaging 40% of previous vintages. They will be fruity, easy-to-appreciate wines with fine tannins, perfect to enjoy in the few years after their bottling, and we know you will find a lot of pleasure drinking them. Our Blanc de Grand Renouil is especially good and fragrant.
Please make sure to contact us directly if you have any question, and in the meantime, we want to leave you with a video we filmed last year explaining more what happens every year in Bordeaux in April.
Happy month of April!
For the Ponty Family,
First of all, we want to thank all our customers and friends who took the time last month to share their opinion about our new packaging. Most of you prefer a lighter and easier-to-carry 6-bottle box, so we will continue working on creating a beautiful flat box, while keeping the option for a 12-bottle box for special orders. We hope that you will be pleasantly surprised when we unveil this new design.
Speaking of packaging, this month the prominent newspaper South China Morning Post interviewed Helene on our gift box strategy in China. China is traditionally a big market for gifts, but with the new clampdown on corruption, this channel is declining. Nevertheless, presentation is very important, and we have created special gift boxes for this market that you can see in this article.
In March, we will once again be traveling the world to meet you and introduce our wines. On March 8th and 9th, Michel will be in Romorantin in France at the tasting organized by La Cave Palais Gourmets. He will then be in Belgium on March 29th and 30th for the tasting organized by Maison Mostade Hennebert in Solre sur Sambre. Contact us for more details. Helene will be touring China for various wine tastings. If you wish to co-organize a tasting or an event, please reach out to us, as we would be happy to come visit you.
Finally, we could not let March start without mentioning an important milestone! On March 2nd, Michel turned 60 years old! Of course he still looks the same than when he started making wine in his family’s cellars 34 years ago, so please join me in wishing him a happy birthday and many more years of great winemaking.
Happy month of March!
For the Ponty Family,
The winter 2013/2014 has been so warm in Bordeaux, our plum tree is already blossoming! We hope this is the sign of a great vintage ahead of us… Over the last two months we have had a lot of rain, causing floods in Bordeaux vineyards close to the rivers (we were spared, fortunately), but the temperatures have been uncommonly warm. We are crossing our fingers we won’t have a late frost!
2014 just started but we are already hard at work to bring our wines to you everywhere in the world.
Early January, the French newspaper Sud Ouest interviewed Helene about our strategy in China and her recommendations to enter the Chinese market. A year and a half ago, Helene created our import company in China, and this market now makes up 30% of our sales. We just moved in a new office in Beijing, and would love to show you around if you ever stop by this city. Our wines are now also widely distributed in Great Britain by Fields Morris and Verdin (wholesale department of Berry Brothers). This country is actually the largest export market for Canon Fronsac wines.
In the vineyard, we are still pruning our 75,000 vine stocks, all by hand because the quality of the future vintage starts with a good pruning. Pruning the vines allows better sunlight penetration to the fruit, which will promote color and discourage vegetal flavors in the wine. Less fruit per vine also makes the resulting wines more intense and complex. In wine, it’s very much a trade-off between quality and quantity!
Finally, we are currently looking into a new packaging for our wines, with a unique 6-bottle flat box. Beforehand we want to know your opinion: do you prefer to receive your wine in 6 or 12 bottles cases, and do you have any advice about this new format?
We cannot believe 2013 is already over! Our last event this year was the great Ponty concert and wine tasting lunch at restaurant Lozen-Boer in Lochristi, Belgium. Dominique and Pascale, Michel’s sister and niece, performed a piano and violin duet for our long-term clients in Belgium, who then enjoyed a delicious lunch paired with our most recent vintages. Wine and music have always been intertwined in our family, and we were so happy to show that through this event.
In our vineyards, we started pruning the vines. Our tradition is to then collect the branches, dry them, and use them to grill meats in our chimney. It gives the meat a delicious flavor! The December skies have been amazing, and we have been blessed with many beautiful sunrises and sunsets.
Most of all, Michel, Helene, and all the Ponty family, wanted to thank you for your continuous support throughout the year. In 2013 more than ever, we tried to take all the ideas and questions you had about our packaging, presentation, communication, and integrate it in everything we do. This newsletter is one of the first examples of this, and 2014 will bring many more.
Please continue to let us know what you like or dislike, what you don’t understand, where you would like to find our wines, and any suggestion you have for us. This is how we will grow and continue to not only give you the best wines, but also make sure you know how our wines are made, our family’s traditions and philosophy.
So from all our family, thank you, and we wish you a very happy new year.
For the Ponty Family,