Vintage 2019

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!

flowering – still much to do…

By billn on June 11, 2019 #vintage 2019

I did a little touring in the Côte Chalonnaise and the Côte de Beaune yesterday, and all these images of flowering vines that have been on Instagram and Twitter for the last 10-12 days tell only a small part of the story.

The Côte Chalonnaise has some precocious areas where the flowering is close to finished – but generally, we are not yet half-way through. In Bouzeron the aligoté is further behind – some parts not yet having started flowering – even the east-facing parts, and certainly not the west-facing!

The Côte de Beaune is pushing a little more, but most places seem more mid-flowering than finished – those latter areas, like in the Chalonnaise are the most precocious, but far from common. So the heavy rain of the weekend and even some light rain on Monday was unwelcome but sometimes it’s like that!

We will have to wait for the proper fruit-set in another 1-3 weeks to have the best idea on yields after the spring frosts…

the end of may update…

By billn on June 01, 2019 #vintage 2019

Time for an end of May round-up:

I show you the pictures of my iris(s) only to emphasise the point – they are between 6 and 10 days later blooming than last year. Last year they only had another week of nice blooms before they were starting to look a little tired, but this year not all the varieties have flowered yet – perhaps over the weekend as +26°C is forecast.

It’s quite similar in Burgundy.

At the end of March – in-line with most recent vintages – the vineyards were warm and the buds were swelling. For all intents and purposes, we were ahead of the curve (the average) and could easily have been looking at another late-August, early-September harvest – that was before the April’s, and indeed most of May’s, weather.

April brought a number of frosty nights and generally colder weather than March – March often brought temperatures above 22°C – not a single day was above 20° in April – and 12° was closer to the norm. A cohesiveness of vignerons never previously seen was in action in the Côte d’Or choosing to ‘fight’ the frost; candles, bales of straw – you name it, it was burnt – including many sausages at impromptu barbecues, including one near Echézeaux – even Aubert de Villaine joined in the 9.00am drinks on the 14 April, though perhaps imbibing less than some who got home at 11 am and promptly went to bed to sleep it all off!

Most people seem to have seen more damage in the first week of April (05-06), despite most of the buds not being open – the worst has been in the Mâconnais with (possibly) an average of 30% losses – though depending on your place – much more or much less. The Côte de Nuits, Côte Chalonnaise and Beaujolais Crus have hardly been affected – though southern Beaujolais has losses, mainly in the chardonnay – but the bottom of the slopes in the Côte de Beaune and certainly the unprotected areas in Chablis will have suffered – it was a very classic Spring Frost this year, right into May too. Until the fruit-set, post-flowering, we can’t really say much more about what degree of damage.

As noted, May was also uncharacteristically cold – some more bales of hay were burned – often questionably, as it wasn’t even minus temperatures! But properly warm May weather didn’t return until practically the end of the month – this brought a few outliners of flowering in sheltered but sunny spots, but real flowering – up and down the Côte d’Or – will be something for the first week to 10 days of June 2019. For now, harvesting looks like a mid-September operation…

Fortunately, April and May brought some welcome rain – the winter and spring have been very dry. This in itself isn’t a problem – but if the near drought summer conditions of 2017 & 2018 are to be repeated, then there will be some problems. For now, the rest is conjecture and the summer has finally begun…

Burgundy Report

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