Burgundy this Monday-Tuesday, has a very different feeling to last Monday-Tuesday.
Last week, the Côtes d’Or, Chalonnaise & Mâconnais – Beaujolais too – were doing their best to enjoy temperatures of 36-38°C. Chablis was a slightly less sticky 33° – or-so. This week, they are getting-by with about 20°C after lots of rain with nights hardly in double-digit temperatures.
Last Tuesday, I discussed the harvest and matters arising with Jacques Devauges of the Clos des Lambrays. He was of the opinion that he may start his teams on the 9th September – mirroring what Antoine Gouges had ‘thought out loud’ earlier the same day. I mentioned to Jacques that although the pinot looked to be in good shape, the vines seemed to have wildly varying yields – from only 2-3 bunches per vine to more like 15! “That’s the essence of the vintage and the most important thing to avoid! You can see in the Clos that we have already thinned out the fruit – you may still see some vines with only a few bunches but you won’t find any with an excess of bunches – that excess is already lying on the ground. It’s clearly nonsense if a domaine claims an average yield of 35 hl/ha when half of their vines are producing nearly double – how will those grapes ripen?”
Of course, Jacques is completely correct. And since I spoke to him, it’s even a little more complicated: Some maturities were already pushing 12° last week but with much rain in the last days – and it’s probably not stopping until Wednesday – the sugars in the grapes will have been diluted. Half a dozen domaines canvassed today still have no (exact!) idea when they will start to harvest.
As mentioned, those domaines that have avoided the worst of the hail – twice in parts of the Chalonnaise and three times in parts of Beaujolais – still have some healthy-looking grapes and time is on their side – except; the grapes in Chablis have been really suffering from rot – it had largely dried up before the rains – but now? Now it will be a concern for all the other regions too.
BUT! Of course, it’s the usual names, but at least half a dozen domaines have already started harvesting some of their whites; from Lamy to Leroy (d’Auvenay) there are already tanks of must settling, and even some latent wines are already in their barrels. It’s easy to criticise – and some always do – but these domaines have low yields and ‘different’ viticulture to the majority of their neighbours – and if their grapes say go – then go they must!
I’m expecting to start my harvest in Beaune around the 4th-5th of September, but like in many places, we are not yet certain!