Thursday September 8 – my last Burgundy harvest day – number 9


Our domaine’s last day.

For us, this was the end of the annual harvest that underpins the livelihoods of so much of the region – not just the winemakers but also the ancillary suppliers that support this industry – barrels, tanks, bottles, plumbers and electricians, etcetera…

Generalising about the grapes of 2022:

2022 Savigny Les VergelessesSpeaking of the home domaine in Beaune – though more generally too – in terms of timing we were neither early nor late – today, even 1 week later, there are those who are still active in the vines – today, Wednesday 14th, at least, given the heavy rain in the Côte de Nuits, they might be questioning their later timing.

Instead of the 1-week head start that chardonnay harvesting commonly has over the pinots, the two colours were ripe at roughly similar times this year. Geography has been evident this year with harvesting starting first in the south – Beaujolais – and harvesting is still not finished in the north – Chablis.

2022 is another vintage of ripeness and, so long that they were not compromised by hail, very good quality grapes. The grapes were far from the smallest we’ve seen in recent years but their concentration remains unquestioned. Reds and whites usually lie between 13-14° of potential alcohol i.e. higher than in 2021 and more consistent between colours than in either of 2019 or 2020. We see decent enough acidity in terms of pHs – 3.15-3.35 for the whites and more like 3.6 for many reds – though with extended maceration the acid intensity of the smaller red grapes is slowly coming through, so perhaps nearer to 3.5 will be more common when it’s time to empty the tanks. The quantity, ripeness and easy extraction of the colour and tannins for the reds have been obvious.

As for fauna on the triage table – ladybirds have been only rare visitors, stink bugs and spiders were the most common (as in most years) and in the first few days we saw lots of earwigs but these latter insects became less common as our harvest progressed.

Oh, and there is the quantity! The worries over April frosts are now long forgotten. I previously noted that this is the hot vintage with the most rain in the last years and this has led to gains in volume. Domaines that debudded less assiduously this year after consistently low volumes since 2018 will have been flirting with over-production in 2022 – or perhaps having to decide what to do with their over-production!

There are always differences in timings brought about by viticulture or ripeness preferences – or both – but here lies the middle ground.

Back to our last day:

Grapes from Beaune’s Montée Rouge and Pommard’s Les Vaumuriens brought joy to our triage table. Our north-facing Montée Rouge was one of the rare vineyards where we needed to remove some unripe grape clusters but was otherwise clean and healthy. The Pommard, despite its altitude, had no such issues. There are vintages when the Pommard is only ready after the main group of pickers has disbanded but this year it slotted perfectly into our programme.

So, a perfect finish to our 2022 triage? Not quite, we finished with 2 more bins of the Bourgogne Rouge – triage-table reset to the slowest tempo and a minimum of 6 pairs of hands removing the dried grains as cheering pickers skipped through the cuverie – the pickers keeping our enthusiasm from waning!

Thank you 2022 and my wishes are with Marko who usually provides us with an alternative harvest commentary. At the last moment, he had to cancel his trip to the Côtes for harvesting. I hope he’s well…

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

There is one response to “Thursday September 8 – my last Burgundy harvest day – number 9”

  1. Phil Eaves14th September 2022 at 2:43 pmPermalinkReply

    Great notes as always Bill, and yet without Marko des vendangeurs, its a bit quiet I was looking forward to his return to an old Domaine of past years and hearing the tales, wishing him all the best.

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