Vintage 2019

12 sept – home domaine, 2019 harvest day 1

By billn on September 12, 2019 #vintage 2019

Savigny Aux Vergelesses

Part 1:
Our first juice comes from Savigny 1er Aux Vergelesses. These medium-sized berries (but with a lot of millerandage) are ripe – the first press juice showing about 13.5° – the trough under our vibrating table has collected plenty of these millerandes, but they are not all completely ripe – it’s doing its job!

The bunches are harbouring very little in the way of insects, and there’s no rot to speak of, though some oïdium needs to be weeded out on the triage table. Given such a warm year the acidity looks quite good – there were more days over 30°C in July-August 2019 than in the same period of 2018 – but these grapes are refreshing to the taste.

As every year, our press is the limiting factor, when its full we revert to pinot noir despite more bins of Savigny Vergelesses in waiting. Our first red will be Corton Renardes – more than touched by hail on the 14 July – the estimate is about 20% losses, but we shall see!

Part 2:
Our afternoon is about reds – three of them – all small cuvées. We have two 1er crus from Pernand – En Caradeux and Les Fichots – plus Corton Renardes.

The Renardes was beautiful stuff; medium to small berries, with almost no rot – we could have done no triage at all. There was just a little more to be done with the two from Pernand, but only anecdotally-so, though their average berry size was a little larger – Caradeux had the largest grapes.

What was clear, was the crunchy thickness of the skins – along with berry size, the key attributes of the vintage. These thick skins are the source for plenty of tannin and that tannin was far from ready one week ago – the grapes were sweet enough but they were also showing plenty of astringency – today that’s gone – this is the concept of picking with phenolic ripeness in action.

wednesday 11 Sept – harvest 2019 update

By billn on September 11, 2019 #vintage 2019


More and more people are attacking their vines. Yesterday Lafon picked his Montrachet, and Lafarge did their usual opening routine of harvesting their Clos du Chateau des Ducs, hand-destemming the grapes through a large ‘sieve’ – as in previous years – then they did the same with their Pommard Pezerolles.

Today, I got the chance to ask Erwan Faiveley how the harvest had started for him: “Our harvest started on Monday in the Côte de Beaune and Mercurey villages, not yet the Givry or the Mercurey 1ers. The whites in Côte de Beaune that were frosted – Bourgogne and Puligny villages, for example – were also harvested, bringing in about 20 hl/ha, but our Bâtard delivered 35-40 hl/ha (they are not yet decanted so it’s not yet fixed) so we can be very happy with that.” Erwan explains that the grapes grew quite well in the last days though it still won’t be a big volume vintage, “The reds are likely to show some tannin from the growing season. One or two vines in the Côte de Nuits are already harvested, including the old vines of Chambolle Fuées. Tomorrow we start in Chablis where we had a welcome few millimetres of rain at the weekend – and there will be Mazis tomorrow too!

Vincent Dancer coninues to post the most compelling images of the harvest – I leave you with one to finish. Outside of Chablis, Côte d’Or and Chalonnaise, some of the early ripening areas in the Beaujolais Crus are already beginning to be harvested, but the bulk remains on the vines, waiting – though Lafarge (again) started with their Chiroubles today!

picking grand crus already?

By billn on September 09, 2019 #vintage 2019

Just a little gratuitous grand cru imagery, as Olivier Lamy picks his Criots Bâtard-Montrachet this afternoon – 09.09.19 – almost some symmetry there!

In the Côte de Beaune, there are just a few outliners who are picking reds too – for example, Volnay 1er Taillepieds by Domaine Clos de la Chapelle – but it’s largely the precocious young vines that are being picked in reds, at least for now…
Image/post below, courtesy Olivier Lamy.

Harvesting the 2019s

By billn on September 08, 2019 #vintage 2019

Vendanges alert! So we can say that we are underway…

It’s the whites that are being harvested first this year, as is probably the case in 19 out of 20 years. First, there were some very early pickers in the middle of last week, then the Hospices were picking some whites on Friday. Saturday (yesterday) was D-day for Jean-Marc Roulot in his Meursault Bouchères, Dominique Lafon in his Meursault Perrières and Olivier Lamy in his Chassagne and St.Aubin, plus many others including Pablo Chevrot. The grapes remain rather small and with many millerandes – they auger for wines of concentration.-

A larger wave of producers in the Côte de Beaune are planning their attacks for next week – my home domaine included as we will start on the 12th. Much of the Côte de Nuits are probably waiting until at least the 15th, more likely the 18th to 20th. It’s also still a little early for Beaujolais and Chablis.

This weekend’s weather is currently cool but dry, though the temperatures should rise to the mid-20°s next week. Of course, I’ll keep you informed via my harvest diary…

beaune – steady as you go…

By billn on September 01, 2019 #travels in burgundy 2019#vintage 2019

A little 33°C walking around Beaune on Saturday.

The grapes are generally very small here too – of-course a little coulure at flowering has, in some cases, contributed, but generally, it is the dry of the year that is responsible. Maturities are “all over the place,” one vigneronne told me – “My whites in Puligny are no-where near ready.” That pretty much means that people can be starting to harvest anywhere between the 10th and 20th of September. This week’s average of 30°C days will take a dip next week, with closer to mid-20°s – But it is September already, and people were already harvesting in the last 2 vintages! Storms were forecast for yesterday but I only saw one or two flashes of lightning.

a little afternoon vosne…

By billn on August 30, 2019 #travels in burgundy 2019#vintage 2019

I suppose it’s just a normal summer temperature, but it was pretty hot walking around Vosne this afternoon – in a mere 30°C…

The grapes look to be nicely clean, with very little that was shrivelled – but they are so small! Of course, there’s still about 2 weeks before they will be harvested, and like in politics, much can change in that time, but I haven’t seen grapes this small since the 2010 vintage!

hail in beaujolais…

By billn on August 20, 2019 #vintage 2019

Storms have been lashing much of France for the last couple of days – most vignerons all too happy to accept the much-needed rain, despite the rafales of wind that came with it. Southern Beaujolais has been unluckier though – here, on Sunday evening, was hail.

The crus have avoided the hail (so far) this year, but the south of Beaujolais, including the Pierres Dorées, have been badly affected. How to define ‘badly?’ It’s too early to say, of course, but estimates vary between 20 and 50% losses, so ‘badly‘ must suffice for now.

There will be more info as, and when, I have some. In sympathy for the area, I openend two from the region yesterday.

in the vines today…

By billn on July 12, 2019 #travels in burgundy 2019#vintage 2019

A tour in the Côte de Beaune: all is very dry here, and the first signs of hydric stress in some of the very rocky parts of Puligny-Folatières is being noted. Otherwise the vines are largely in rude health, though a little powdery mildew can be found in some chardonnay plots. Rain would be a nice present for the growers, one of whom told me today “The harvest date is potentially coming forward – If we get a little rain, we could even be starting to harvest whites between 05-10 September.” That could be up to a week earlier than most reports – but rain will be needed for that.

vintage 2019 update

By billn on June 25, 2019 #vintage 2019

It’s going to get hot this week – 40° hot. Many are the domaines that are altering their work schedule to cope – starting their days in the vines between 5-6am and finishing at lunchtime – at least the outdoor portion of their duties!

I briefly saw Mark O’Connell in the vines on Sunday (right, in his Pommard 1er Grand Clos des Epenots) and he told me “The foliage looks great, it looks like I haven’t got very big yields, but compared to what I’ve had in most years – 2018 excepted – I’m happy. So far nothing to worry about in terms of maladies, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

Last week saw many domaines starting work on both their palissage – that’s securing the growing shoots between the wires to guard against the wind – and their hedging/pruning – i.e. cutting the tops off the quickly growing vines. This hedging usually only starts when the flowering is done and is most quickly done with a tractor and a cutter to mow the tops of the vines, but more and more domaines are choosing to use the old method of multiple people using hand-shears. As one grower confided “I’ve got 10 workers in the vines – I’ve got to keep them busy doing something! But joking aside, I’m doing this more and more by hand as that’s one less visit in the vines with a heavy tractor, compacting the soil.

Flowering has been over for a while in some places, but Chablis and the Côte Chalonnaise were not yet over at the weekend – but it will be close to finished anytime now. I spoke with Eduard Parinet, who has vines in both Pouilly-Fuissé and in Moulin à Vent and he tells me that the vines, in both places, have recovered better than they could have hoped for following the frost of 05 April. The losses, however, are still estimated to be in the order of 25-30%.

Then there’s the question of the heat this week; The growth of the vines has been luxurious, despite not so much rain this year – another grower, Elodie Roy, told me yesterday “Thank god for the rain that we had on Friday night/Saturday morning – I’ve 1,200 new vines planted – I really didn’t want to be out in the heat with my watering can!” Of course, growth will slow if Burgundy touches 40°C – the plants tending to shut down to protect themselves from excess, but the weather pattern may cool a little and become stormy early next week – let’s see!

Burgundy Report

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