The so-called “ban des vendanges” or harvest proclamation originated in feudal times. It was one of the privileges of the Lords of the Manor, who derived a modest income from this right. During the main three centuries of the Middle Ages (13th, 14th and 15th), the vineyards belonged to the “vine workers” (vignerons). The landowners granted quasi-ownership of the vines to a technically-sophisticated workforce and reserved no more than a quarter or one fifth of the harvest for themselves.
Originally, the harvest proclamation was simply intended to facilitate and control how the harvest was shared out. An official date for starting the harvest was set and strictly observed, which is no longer the case today. The Bordeaux Jurade had the right to set the harvest date for all the areas within its jurisdiction. It knew that the quality of the wine depended on the date chosen. The Jurade used to tolerate or order a few exceptions, giving permission to pick the grapes in certain vineyards before or after the official date. Without the harvest proclamation, the grapes would have been picked before they were fully ripe to obtain payment sooner and the reputation of Bordeaux wines would have rapidly been eroded.
During the period when this system applied, from the Middle Ages to the French Revolution, the earliest and latest dates set for starting the harvest in Bordeaux were 9th September and 20th October. This variance shows how much care was taken by the winegrowing authorities to monitor the different stages in the ripening of the grapes. Nowadays, the authorities no longer determine the date, but the Commanderie du Bontemps feels it is important to celebrate the birth of a new vintage with its Harvest Festival.
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Domaine de Chevalier
The Ban des Vendanges 2013 took place at Domaine de Chevalier in partnership with the Union of Classified Growths from Pessac Leognan.