Vintage 2007

bookending the 2007 harvest

By billn on September 29, 2007 #other sites#vintage 2007

My cold has intensified so no bottles, I just round up a few loose-ends. If it carries on, by Tuesday I’ll have to cancel my appointments in Burgundy, set for Friday 🙁

Anyway, I thought I’d ‘book-end’ the 2007 burgundy harvest report with a round-up of some producer reports. We have here the last of the reports from Domaine de la Vougeraie and interestingly for a predominantly négociant, Alex Gambal who had the luxury for many cuvées to pick his own harvesting dates, turns out to be one of the latest of the late pickers – so a great summary of not just the process, but also here the trials and tribulations of the decisions from Alex too, amongst a few memorable quotes I particularly like:

“All the mumbo jumbo about physiological ripeness and the quality of the tannins are but words for the “experts.” What it comes down to is how ripe are the seeds and thus how ripe are the tannins; here is where the farming comes in”

For grand cru watchers, here’s the brief summary of Louis-Michel Liger-Belair from the Château de Vosne-Romanée:

We made the harvest between September the 1st and the 4th. We made a hard triage but easier than ’04 !

Last but not least, the balance of the reports from Domaine de la Vougeraie:

snap

Finally, a little lite Sunday burgundy reading.

14th september – fin – almost…

By billn on September 14, 2007 #other sites#vintage 2007

cross of corton charlemagneThis will be the last ‘active’ note related to the 2007 Burgundy grape harvest, as by Monday the vendanges will be overwhelmingly over. A few additional summaries from growers will appear as they become available.

The weather has held up brilliantly over the last two weeks – though the temperature has remained below average, the accompaniment has been clear blue skies and sunshine. Just one or two ‘diehards’ are holding on to bring in a parcel of reds here or there, these and a little in the Hautes Côtes apart, and the pinot noir harvest is complete. Chardonnay needed more time and sun. Dominique Lafon picked his Montrachet a couple of days ago, and today there is mainly Charlemagne and Hautes Côtes to pick. Bonneau du Martray started picking their Corton-Charlemagne yesterday, and my ‘home team’ will start tomorrow.

The vintage will be as heterogeneous as the approaches and the quality of grapes and sorting; Jean-Marc Boillot started to harvest 20th August, Alain Burguet in Gevrey-Chambertin, who is always a late boy, started only last Saturday, the 8th September. Like most years the average quality of the pinot noir in the Côte de Nuits is higher than that of the Côte de Beaune, the whites look like they will be very nice, provided the grapes were harvested ripe. The later harvested pinots all showed an elevation of strawberry aromatics and were starting to hint of more roasted flavours.

So what of the home team? Monday saw the arrival of grapes from Chambertin, and they looked pretty good. Tuesday saw grapes from Latricières-Chambertin – they needed quite some work (just like in 2004) – and the last reds to be picked on Wednesday were from Maranges. Actually the Maranges looked great. Since Saturday, the team have seen a real leap in the visual quality of the grapes moving across the triage table. As mentioned, it is Corton-Charlemagne and Hautes Côtes blancs that will be the last to arrive – all tomorrow.

punchdown

In the cuverie we see the first cuvée to be pressed – it’s the Beaune 1er Cru Les Cras that we triaged on the 30th August. It seems nice and round – if hard to taste because of the malic acid – it’s reminiscent of a 2000 with just a little more depth. The fruit is very nice and it seems we had good phenolic ripeness as there was plenty of punching down to get the extraction, but to no ‘bitter’ effect. If we look back to our expectations as the harvest started, this is a great result.

Comments from our Morey St.Denis correspondent:

“I was obliged to finish on Sunday the cutting, but the working with the wine is rather tiring, we are still doing 12 hour days, but have long pauses in between. I am doing lots of push-downs, and sugaring the wines to get them to a degree decent. I am happy to do this as I am drawing out the fermentations much longer this way. I do have some pretty colors, I’ll see how it turns out, I have a hard time controlling the temperatures, I want to go up to 30° then bring it back down to 25° to keep my fruit. we try to keep it active during the day light hours, this keeps me by my thermometer. the first tank has been at 990 for 2 days now, I am doing this on purpose, its a tricky method, but if the year is not too fat, I’ll get a warm elegance out of this.

The Fixin (blanc) was cut on tuesday, pretty yellow grapes, not more than 10 rotten grapes in the whole vineyard. I could have waited for some other vines, but was pushed to cut fast for other reasons. I think that I am the happiest with the Passtoutgrains, Fixin, Bourgogne (one of my favorites anyway), The Morey Village is very nice, and the Combottes is extre, too bad I don’t have more. The Clos de la Roche is showing her typical violetes and bing cherries, a paradox that I can never forget, and the Riottes is more and more spicy. I did put some whole clusters in it this year.”

To finish off these notes – more very enjoyable reports from Domaine de la Vougeraie:

13th september – charlemagne

By billn on September 13, 2007 #other sites#vintage 2007

Let’s start with a great harvest report.

We can then follow that piece with the Domaine de la Vougeraie diary, it just about avoids the corporate edge, and it’s full of interesting detail, each installment better than the last:

voug
More will follow tomorrow – provided the Vougeraie team cann get over the rugby, oh and the football too…

Most reds are now ‘in’, but the whites will need a few more days. One winemaker today tells me the following on his whites:

“Just getting Charlemagne in : beautiful, 13.7 for the first, waiting for the other.

This vintage is going to be fantastic for whites, I think. Puligny was this morning and yesterday afternoon. They weren’t as ripe as the Charlemagne: 12.2 and 12.8. I suppose I shouldn’t complain, it’s still quite enough, and I wanted to harvest my chardonnay’s less ripe than what I did those past years anyway. I really think I will gain elegance by harvesting with a bit less sugar.”

Tomorrow we will mainly be rounding up on the reds and how they have been performing in the vats.

chablis harvesting

By billn on September 12, 2007 #vintage 2007

I received the following today:

The 2007 grape harvest in Chablis: on the 9th September, the La Chablisienne co-operative began the grape harvest at Château Grenouilles
(Drinks Media Wire). Château Grenouilles is the only estate located at the heart of the Grands Crus vineyards. Discover the success of a co-operative with prospects.

Since 1923 in Chablis (Burgundy), the La Chablisienne co-operative and its 300 winegrowing-members have been producing great white wines from a mosaic of local soils, all marked by their own very particular minerals.

The La Chablisienne co-operative is present throughout the vineyard. Every year, they produce some thirty different vintages and crus, all boasting strong personalities: 6 Grands Crus, 11 Premiers Crus, Chablis wines and Petit Chablis wines. The very prestigious Château Grenouilles ranks first among these crus, and is the only estate to be located on the hill of the Grands Crus.

La Chablisienne is an exemplary and successful French co-operative. The figures on 31/07/07 confirm that fact with a 10% rise in the number of bottles marketed and a 16% rise in the turnover compared to 2006, which means La Chablisienne may well exceed its sales objectives with over 8 million bottles sold by the end of the year.

As a brand, La Chablisienne focuses its sales essentially on value and image-promoting sectors: wine merchants 9%, the café, hotel and restaurant circuit 32%, and export 59%.

Apart from promoting Chablis wines, this development also aims to enable as many family producers as possible to work the vineyard (with 180 member estates) and younger generations of winegrowers to settle there (25 young producers over a period of 5 years.)

Beyond its commercial success, La Chablisienne is more than ever a wine co-operative with prospects and a great future, preserving an exceptional heritage.

8th september – whole clusters anybody?

By billn on September 08, 2007 #vintage 2007

triage
What didn’t make it into the cuvée

Today at the home domaine it’s villages Vosne-Romanée and Charmes-Chambertin on the triage table. Whereas the Charmes looks ‘okay’, the Vosne looks excellent – so much so that the vieilles-vignes have been separated into another cuvée and are going into the tank with a high percentage of whole clusters. The younger vines will be de-stemmed as normal, so it will be interesting to compare the two.

Tomorrow is a free day, or at-least free from sorting, and Monday will see the Corton Clos du Roi harvested. Tuesday might be Chambertin and Latricières, otherwise they will come on Wednesday. Maranges will also come on Wednesday, so this vineyard is a little behind its usual evolution.

A trip to Meursault and Puligny this morning showed quite a few people harvesting their chardonnay, but the home team’s Corton-Charlemagne is most likely going to be left until next weekend as the forecast is as good as the last dry days.

What of the fermenting cuvées? Well the Beaune 1er Cru Les Cras has already 98% completed its alcoholic fermentation. The colours are actually very good, but the tannins are a little on the low side so more extraction will be tried. It’s actually very hard to judge the balance as there is a lot of malic acid (tartaric also) so we will have to wait a while.

And some notes from our winemaker friend in Morey St.Denis:

“What a heterogeneous harvest.

I have brought in 4 ha of fruit, the sugars are all over the place. Even within an appellation, I have a variation of 1°! We also have a smaller yield than estimated, but the quantities are decent. I can’t stall the harvest like Dominique though, my team is going back to school, and my drivers back to work. I’m afraid of rain, but I might stall the whites until next week. The Vegetation is dormant now, the only degrees I’ll get is with evaporation.

I have an average of 12° for everything which is correct. We’ll see how it goes in the tanks…

Our tannins are low, acids are high, I think that with some good work though we’ll get a decent wine in, the must is tasty, wild strawberries, blueberries, iron, licorice. I am hoping to get some nice spices in the end of fermentation. I am in the beginning of fermentation, I’m favoring a cold extraction, and good news, no smelly grapes this year for me.
I’ll send in more profound tasting notes in a few days. 1 or 2 days of soak are not enough, and I did have some shot berries and raisining in some vines.”

4th september – smells, no whites & improving nuits

By billn on September 04, 2007 #vintage 2007

chardThe weather is amazing; the few drops of rain in Beaune yesterday came to nothing, but today it’s sunny, the north wind is blowing – and it’s cold! It really is like an an October harvest even though were are in the first week of September. The home team boss is even joking about making a ‘selection grains nobles’ from Corton-Charlemage!

As I mentioned the Charlemagne, what of the whites? Well apparently they are still not ripe enough – Dominique Lafon has put off his harvest to next week, many, if not most, will follow suit.

I asked a few more questions about the smelly Taillepieds:

“We looked at the grapes on the vines and they looked bad – we had this bacterial problem from the same parcel last year – so I really considered to pull out of the contract. The grower convinced us to test some of the grapes, and actually they seemed okay – so we went ahead. As the fruit from the first basket hit the sorting table the cry went out – ‘what is that smell?’. So we ended up having to smell every single cluster as a check – there is no other way – a perfect looking bunch can smell bad, an ugly one be perfectly okay – your eyes don’t help. Actually we had less than 5% botrytis in this parcel so it can’t be the main factor, but we still ended up throwing 30% away. It’s probably a mixture of site, viticulture and clone – certainly you get huge clusters from this parcel. Despite us all having sticky noses by the end, I think the effort should have been worthwhile, the must looks, smells and tastes fine – so let’s see.”

Today it’s a village Beaune that’s making the commute across the sorting table: though, earlier in the year the grapes had been hit by hail they have 13° natural and look almost good and homogenous – they will be fine. Although tomorrow will be villages Volnay and Beaune 1er Cru Les Avaux we are now starting to look more closely at the Côte de Nuits fruit. I hear that the Latricières doesn’t look so hot – but it didn’t in 2004 either yet Burghound bestowed 90-92 big ones! Villages Vosne looks good too – Friday or Saturday is anticipated for these – seems life will be much easier as the teams go deeper into Nuits.

Just to prove the weather was nice, Carel Voorhuis sent me the following picture:

ardhuy in sunshine
He also sent a picture showing today’s Savigny 1er Cru Peuillets showing over 14°!

Next update Thursday or Friday.

3rd september – volnay and smelly grapes

By billn on September 03, 2007 #vintage 2007

beurot
Pinot Beurot (Gris) mixed amongst the Pinot Noir

graphWell September certainly seems to be carrying on where August left off – you can see (right) how cool August was vs the average – and today at 15:30 it is a cloudy 15°c, by 6pm there are a few spots of rain. If the Spring had not been so precocious we would certainly have seen a ‘classical’ late September, even October harvest.

My ‘home team’ brought in the Volnay 1er Cru Les Taillepieds on Sunday – and wow, what a mess. They made a selection of 30% i.e. they had to throw 30% away as the grapes were horrible. For the first time they even checked the smell of every single bunch too – why? See below. A quick tour of the Côte de Nuits parcels caused some relief, indeed optimism, but more of that tomorrow.

Credits again for Météo Savigny-lés-Beaune for the temperature graph.

I received a couple of updates from winemakers yesterday, so I include these too.

Winemaker 1. A view from Morey St.Denis:

I will be harvesting from Tuesday. My grapes are healthy and happily making sugar, I hope to avoid enriching the wines this year. Some wine makers have already started their harvests, perhaps they are right, but I wanted to wait as the fruit is healthy enough to go for another couple of days, I am keeping my fingers crossed for the nice weather that we were promised, another degree would be nice. The acidity seems to be a bit low, but we’ll see in the tanks. The color is more present than in 2006, I am counting on using a bit more new oak as the tannins are reportedly harder to extract. The seeds were still a bit green last week, but I noticed a beautiful brown yesterday in “Les Baudes.” This will be yet another tricky year, but I like challenges.

Winemaker 2. A producer making wine in both Côtes:

Regarding the update on harvest : I think I’ve never had as low expectations and as good surprises as this vintage. We’re only just started a couple of days ago, but the sugar levels are much higher than I thought they would be (I was really fearing things as low as 10,5 to 11), and the first grapes we got in reached some 12 – 12,5, which is really nice if not extraordinary. Botrytis isn’t too bad, even if sorting will remain one of the key issues to quality this vintage : botrytis of course, but also grapes that are affected by the starting to be sadly famous “gout moisi terreux”, which doesn’t seem to be all that related to botrytis. So far, everything we got in is perfectly clean, and shows wonderful fruit. Pretty ripe fruit, and a nice colour also : my first two tanks started fermenting, and to see the colour during a remontage this morning was really a nice surprise : the “service technique du BIVB” had announced little anthocyanins, and maybe even fewer tannins to bind and protect the colour, but obviously, we’ll have quite nice colours as well as the rest.

So over all, I’m quite confident, if not enthusiastic, about the vintage : it certainly won’t be a great keeper like 2005 indeed, but the wine made by serious producers should be really very nice. The main issu will be the amount of efforts people will be willing to do for the triage.

At our domaine, we’ve had a big discussion about whether to start early and pick under ripe but healthy grapes, or pick later, being aware that we would have to sort and that we would lose volume. We’ve taken the second option, and I’m glad we did, even more now the weather is pretty good and weather forecast remains optimistic.

snap
It’s very interesting that the note above about “gout moisi terreux” comes out, because it was referred to also by the producer in Morey who said they would be sniffing every bunch to check everything is in order – now you know what was happening with the Taillepieds – apparently it’s easily spotted, if you care to look. Interesting because I’ve never noted a grower openly introduce the subject before, yet here are three together.

The quote refers to a bunch of highly odorous compounds – amongst which geosmin is the most well-known – that impart an earthy or beetroot smell to wine that even in small concentration would classed as a ‘fault’: “One of the consequences of rot on grapes is the development of volatile compounds giving fungal, mouldy or earthy odours. Among these compounds, (-)-geosmin (trans-1,10-dimethyl-trans-9-decalol), a powerful aromatic compound with an earthy smell is a persistent defect in grape juice and wines made with at least partially rotten grapes.

Quoting winemaker #2 again:

Their genesis is not very clear either : botrytis and some strains of penicillium are known to be able to produce them, but they’re not the only ones. This makes it a quite difficult problem at the moment.

1st september – pommard epenots

By billn on September 01, 2007 #vintage 2007

teur
Harvesting Beaune 1er Cru Teurons on Friday

Although I had to leave, I’ll keep up the contacts.

Today it started very cloudy – until lunch when it rained – “just enough rain to wet the dust”. It’s dry in the afternoon and the team are now triaging Pommard 1er cru Les Epenots. These grapes are again just a little better than before, but equally are needing a heavy selection at the triage table. These will be the only grapes of the day. Tomorrow perhaps, there will be some Volnay 1er cru Taillepieds but that’s all. It’s forecast to rain tomorrow evening so now may be the best time to get the Côte de Beaune reds in.

Although the first cuvées are now already turning from murky brown to medium-pink, from a wine-making perspective everything may be tried this year, from saignée, to sugar or powdered tannins – all depends on the quality of the triage work.

Next info: Monday

PS: The ille flotant turned out bad preparation for the ping-pong; last year I came 4th, this year 5th
:-(

31st august – this time savigny & beaune

By billn on August 31, 2007 #vintage 2007

meurs
Tightly cut rows in Meursault

After finally crawling into bed at close to midnight, and with the distinct impression that crocque monsieur and ille flotante were perhaps an unwise supper combination – at least with a 2003 Barolo and a 22 year-old Volnay – I survive to report that the sky is again cloudless and things are a couple of degrees warmer: At 10am it’s 18°C in the shade – the equivalent was 16°C yesterday – still, it’s hardly August.

Apart from one or two tractors giving the chardonnay vines a final haircut, the ‘white domaines’ of the Côte de Beaune seem a long way from considering it appropriate to bring in their chardonnay – probably starting next week said one grower. The Côtes look at their best at this time of year when the vines take on different leaf colours, yet, closely cropped, they define the hillsides. Reds may be altogether different; some in Volnay already picked a few of their 1er crus, others e.g. d’Angerville might wait until Thursday. Many had plans to bring in the bulk of their crop towards the end of next week but this sunny interlude has the sugars soaring – 11.6 on Wednesday, 11.9 today…

savy
More Savigny 1er Peuillets

Our second parcel of Savigny 1er Peuillets arrives, this is from a different clone that has bigger bunches – so just more places for rot to hide. It’s slow work; there’s a little less rot than 2004 but it’s burried deeper in the bunches so actually takes longer to deal with.

By lunch the sky is cloudy, but no rain threatens. This afternoon there will be a different Beaune; 1er cru Cent Vignes to contend with. The grapes were better than the Savigny and perhaps a little better than the previous ‘Cras’ – all apart from the last boxes which came from a different section – all required hard work though.

Unfortunately I have to leave Beaune now for family visits and a ping-pong final…

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