Perennial Vintners
2008 Melon de Bourgogne Verjus
This product is no longer available -- this is the original release page
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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 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% 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 tart verjus.

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 lemon.)

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 soil.

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