All going swimmingly … with one exception!
Generally speaking, it’s been a fabulous year throughout many of the key regions of France. Some of our vignerons were speaking of another 2003 – the year of the canicule.
Although it hasn’t been as extreme, there has been a drought for 45 days that has affected many regions. It was the third hottest July since 1900 throughout the whole of France, with half the normal rain. Older vines have faired best, as they have deeper root systems that draw up valuable moisture and minerals from the soil. Young vines on sandy soils have been more affected by hydric stress.
However, in general, the quality is looking superb – the grapes are healthy and ripe and there has been much less spraying required for rot and diseases this year. With such warm conditions however, the grapes are in general smaller than average, which means less juice, hence less wine being made.
Harvest in Beaujolais started on the 24th August, three weeks earlier than last year. Big smiles on the faces of our vignerons says it all! Though there will be 25% less wine made.
Harvest in the Côte d’Or started last week and the Pinot Noir grapes at Domaine Jacob looked absolutely beautiful in their Pernand Vergelesses vineyard. However, further north in Chablis, a violent hailstorm struck on Tuesday 1st September, ripping beautifully formed Chardonnay grapes straight off the vine. Around 15% of the vineyard area has been affected, especially in key 1er Cru and Grand Cru areas.
In the LoireValley, harvest is set to begin in Sancerre around 20th September. The Sauvignon Blanc grapes are beautifully formed with delicious, sweet, ripe fruit! Small bunches will mean less juice though. Further west, again prospects look really exciting, provided the weather holds over the next couple of weeks.
In Champagne, France’s most northerly wine region, harvest officially began on the 29th August and is set to continue until mid September. So far … very good!
In Bordeaux, harvest began last week for the earlier ripening white grapes. For the reds, harvest is due to begin next week, 15 days ahead of last year. Once again, broad smiles from our vignerons suggests they are ecstatic with the quality. Another 2005 or 2009 in prospect? We’ll have to wait and see…