Perennial Vintners
2007 Madeleine Angevine Verjus
This product is no longer available -- this is the original release page
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This year 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 vinegar.

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% Madeleine Angevine, a white winegrape.

Our green harvest was about 1 week after veraison, meaning that sugars had begun to develop in the grapes os it's not as tart as some verjus'.

What to do with Verjus? If you're an espresso afficienado, you're aware that the way a typical Italian takes their espresso is either with just a touch of milk foam ("Machiatto") or with a tiny wedge of lemon. In the evening as a closer on an big dinner, it is likely to be served with a sugar cube. In any case, it's a straight shot of espresso, with a touch of something else to take off the bite. I've been drinking my afternoon espresso with a touch of our verjus -- like lemon and sugar, it takes the hard edge off the espresso.

If you go to your favorite web search engine, and look for "verjus" you'll find many great uses for it. We've used it instead of lemon juice along with a bit of dill for a clean and lively salmon preparation. Now that we have it available, we're sure to be using it in many different meals.

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.

With proper vine maintenance there is less need for a green harvest -- if the vines are kept in balance, they will typically tend to produce just what they can ripen -- Mother Nature is very good that way. However, some grape varieties are just plain prolific and need to be kept under control. Also, if the plant has been damaged, for example when a hard freeze kills back the above ground portion of the plant while leaving the roots intact.

This year we are rejuvenating a block af Madeleine Angevine from the BIVW vineyard. These vines were originally planted in 1981 or so. In 2005, two rows (about 166 plants) were intentionally sawn off a few inches above the ground. The intent was to graft a different variety onto these existing root systems, thus getting the new plants producing several years sooner than would be with a complete replant. However, the project was never completed, the grafting not done. Since then, these plants have only been minimally maintained so as to prevent them from blocking access to other rows.

As of 2007, Perennial Vintners has worked on this block. The plants are mature, with huge root systems, but the trunk was removed, so the new canes we're establishing are fairly small. The plant thinks it can push out lots of fruit, but we know better -- thus the green harvest this year. (Be sure to look for our 2007 Madeleine Angevine dry white wine to be released in 2008.) This may be the only year that we do a green harvest.

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