pinot noir - step 1 The harvest
The "ban de vendanges" is the legal starting date of the harvest and is specific to each appellation. After the legal date has been announced, each domaine has the liberty to organize its own harvest based on the maturity of the grapes in their vineyards. The criteria of maturity of the Pinot Noir grape differs from that of the Chardonnay. In all red grapes, one speaks of "phenolic maturity". This takes into consideration the level of maturity of the anthocyanes and the tannins of the grape, and more specifically these elements found in the skin. The finished wine will be more or less red (anthocyanes) and tannic (tannins) based on the quality and quantity of these two elements.
As with the Chardonnay grape, the proportion of machine-picked grapes increases yearly, essentially for economic reasons (two to three times less expensive than hand picking), but also because of logistical flexibility. Nonetheless all domaines concerned with quality continue to hand pick. For some estates manual picking is essential as this enables whole cluster maceration for red grapes. When a manual harvest is done, the grapes are taken to the "cuverie" (the winery) in plastic perforated cases(1) or in large bins.
Sorting tables (2) are not systematically used, but allow the grapes to drain if they have been picked in the rain, and also allow for rotten or damaged grapes to be eliminated which could otherwise compromise the quality of the wine. Some estates choose to do the sorting in the vineyard during the picking rather than risking overhandling them on a sorting table.