Verjus (500mL bottle)
Released 11-Oct-2008 (click here for full label image including side panels).
Like last year (see Verjus 2007
article), in 2008 we have produced a tiny amount
of verjus. Verjus is a french word from "ver" (green) and
"jus" (juice). It is the juice squeezed from grapes that are
harvested before they're
ripe -- also refered to as a "green harvest". It can be
used in cooking where you might otherwise use lemon juice or balsamic
Sometimes you'll find verjus labelled as "red" or "white", which
indicates if the grapes it was made from are usually made into a red
wine or white. Ours is 100% Melon de Bourgogne, a white winegrape.
Veraison was late and long this year due to our unusually cooler than
normal growing season; our green harvest was a little before veraison,
meaning that there is very little sugar, thus making a classic very
What to do with Verjus?
I like to add a touch to an afternoon shot of espresso to take the
hard edge off the espresso. (Italians do this with a tiny wedge of
We use it in a simple salmon preparation along with a bit of dill and
white pepper. We always have a bottle in the fridge and use a touch
here and there all the time. If you go to your favorite web search
engine, and look for "verjus" you'll find many great uses for it.
Why are we making a Verjus?
You may wonder why one would harvest the grapes before they're ripe?
Good question -- this is done when the grapevine is producing more
clusters than the viticulurist feels it can properly ripen. By
dropping some of the fruit, the vines resources will not be spread as
thin, thus it will ripen the remaining fruit more quickly. This can
be very important in a cool climate like ours where harvest decisions
can be forced by inclement weather. This practice is also often done
in warmer areas, however recent studies have shown it has little
overall effect when the ripening season is not limited.
This year has been a terrifically late season. Spring was very late,
and very cool. At one point we considered the grape development to be
more than 4 weeks behind schedule! For this reason, we felt that
there would not be sufficient ripening time for a full cropload of
grapes and we did cluster-thinning on most all of our vines. Due to
limited resources, we were only able to harvest the grapes from the
part of the Melon block for Verjus, the rest of the grapes were simply
dropped on the ground in the vineyard to replenish nutrients in the