vintage 2020, the current status


Puligny-Montrachet 1er Les FolatièresSo far, it looks like the 2020 vintage has the chance to be remembered for the quality of its wines, more than as the covid vintage.
Right, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Les Folatières, yesterday

The vine development continues apace and, to date, the vines have neither water nor mineral constraints – the former having been taken care of by the rain of May and June. May had many more hours of sunshine than the average, June slightly less. We are just passing the 30°C barrier this week, but have seen none of the 35-42°C temperatures of the last 2-3 years – not yet, anyway!

In the Côte d’Or, and already for a week, the very first grape clusters with veraison (colour change) have been seen, but these the are the most precocious of outliners and most typically seen in the youngest of vines. In general, the clusters have not yet fully closed up – except where there is some serious millerandage closure typically happens before any colour-change. That said, the next 10 days or-so should see a much wider start to veraison.

The only cloud in this growing season, so far, is that oïdium is becoming more of a concern – for the whites in particular. Some growers have suggested to me that if it gets a lot worse they may be forced to consider some systemic treatments and exit whatever organic certifications they may have been pursuing. The last treatments should be made no less than 30 days before harvesting, so the window for those last treatments is slowly closing.

Reading all of the available bulletins shows a vintage that remains comparable to 2011 in terms of its timing, though one important producer of Chambolle-Musigny noted that, given the current rate of development, he will probably be harvesting his earliest parcel of pinot around the 22nd of August! Some producers have already started doing the unthinkable – they are now going on holiday in July instead of August – and that’s because the harvest will be so early.

At this stage, the producers seem to be having fewer problems finding pickers than in the most recent vintages, but how to deal with social distancing for lodgers and the worker that they feed, still needs to have some thought! Of course, we can’t ignore the possibility of a second wave of covid infections, with this in mind, the people who would rent you a machine to pick your grapes, are practically overbooked!

Agree? Disagree? Anything you'd like to add?

There is one response to “vintage 2020, the current status”

  1. Suvro8th July 2020 at 2:43 pmPermalinkReply

    What is a “mineral constraint”? One interpretation would be sunlight, since you mention the days of sunshine after the issue about rains removing “water constraint”. But I don’t see how the minerality of the wine would be dependent on sunshine.

    • billn8th July 2020 at 5:59 pmPermalinkReply

      Hi Suvro
      Yes, you caught me out here – that was me transposing directly (read a bit too lazily!) the headline in the report of the Agricultural Bureau (Chambre d’Agriculture). French can be a very ‘flowery’ language, but I should try to avoid overuse of the word mineral in the context of the vineyards. In this case, they are specifically talking about the nutrients for the vines, as opposed to minerality in wine, or indeed sunshine.
      Of course, all the vineyards should be different based on the varying philosophies of working the soils, or not, of composting, or not, & of how much organic material is in the soil, or not. Yes minéral should be less about the organic and more about the inorganic, but it extends much further than NPK to iron, zinc and others – so-called enzymatic reaction cofactors.
      Too long-winded I know – but decoding the Chambre d’Agriculture, they are suggesting that nothing is currently lacking for vine development 🙂

      • Suvro8th July 2020 at 6:28 pmPermalinkReply

        No worries Bill. As a chemist interested in wine, I am always trying to make sure I understand the nuances of wine growing and making from experts like you.

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