Vintage 2020

The 2020 vintage: now in the lead by a length…

By billn on June 04, 2020 #vintage 2020

2020 vintage update
Chambre d’Agriculture de Côte-d’Or

As you can see from the graphic above, compared to recent years, 2020 now leads the pack in ‘precocity’ – I may have made that word up(!) – and this ‘horse’ has begun to pull away from 2007, 2011 and the rest of the field.

The average temperature in May 2020 was only marginally higher than the average for that month, and rainfall a little lower, but there was about 70 more hours of sunshine than the average – and the vines clearly like their sunlight!

Only the Hautes Côtes has not completed its flowering, though most of the test areas used by the BIVB are between 50% and 100% complete. For the moment there is practically no oïdium worry and no mildew worry.

Despite no rain in the Burgundy vineyards in the last week, we are now entering a cool and wet period for the vines; hardly 20°C and it could last for a week – so this race is far from over. The weather has some storm warnings too. In farming, it’s never over until it’s over!

an eery hop to Beaune…

By billn on May 26, 2020 #vintage 2020

Meursault

I truly hope that in 4 or 5 years time, the 2020 vintage will be remembered for its wines, rather than Covid-19.

Sunday-Monday I made a short excursion to Beaune – 16.5 hours in total.

It wasn’t entirely clear whether the Swiss would let me leave Switzerland, but they quizzed my reasons and then waved me on; having been away from my apartment for 12 weeks, I really wanted to check that all was well – and fortunately, it was. So I came back home to Bern as no-one is open for visits. The border officially opens 16 June – let’s see if any domaines will be open to visits then!

It was sobering to take a short walk around Beaune – Monday lunchtime but with practically nowhere to lunch – apart from a couple of sandwicheries all was closed. Not a single cafe in Place Carnot was open – but then there were also no people to be seen. Actually, far fewer people and less places open than in mid-January.

Before returning, I took a jog around some Meursault vineyards – an easy 7km photo tour – I knew you wouldn’t forgive me if I didn’t get the obligatory ‘vines in flower’ image! According to the Chambre d’Agriculture, the Côte de Beaune & and Côte de Nuits chardonnay has finished its flowering, and the pinot noir is at the mid-flowering stage. The Hautes Côtes have only their first flowers. Despite some cool weather, the strong sun has pushed the growth forward – roughly equal to, or up to two days behind, the same stage of growth as in 2007 and 2011 – so still one of the earliest vintages on record – more than a week ahead of 2015, 2017 & 2018 and an almost unbelievable 24 days ahead of 2019 – though the heat of June and July accelerated 2019 in the mid-season.

There was plenty of wind, despite the sunshine, above the level of wind allowed for treating (with sprays) so some domaines were already giving their vines a haircut. Certainly, I saw more people in the vines than in Beaune!

Flowering? The 2020 vintage growth update…

By billn on May 21, 2020 #vintage 2020

May weather in Vosne-Romanée

Anyone tuning into social media right now will fall under a deluge of images of vines in flower.

The outliners – almost always the young vines – have already flowered. As a true(r!) measure, the BIVB has the concept of mid-flowering where a date is assigned to this point in time and, hence, a reference or comparison to other vintages is available. The mid-point of flowering in 2020 has not yet been achieved – or at least communicated – but we are close!

To compare:

Dates ex-BIVB and assembled by the Chambre d’Agriculture de Côte-d’Or

As you may note, these dates come from reference parcels of Côte de Nuits Pinot, Côte de Beaune Pinot and Côte de Beaune Chardonnay. In recent years (this is not an old measure) 2011 leads the pack with 2007 in second place.

2020 is regaining its vigour after 10 cooler and wetter days, but looks like it may be just behind, or even closely match, 2007. Otherwise, disease pressure remains low and the work – even with social-distancing – remains easy due to the benevolence of the weather. Even the Saturday market in Beaune has now re-opened, but in the vines, the rain of the last couple of weeks may be a more crucial factor if the summer of 2020 compares to the dryness of those in 2015-2019…

the making of the 2020 vintage…

By billn on May 12, 2020 #vintage 2020

WP_20160608_10_19_39_Pro (2)Yes, there have been flowers! Already last week (7 May) in Chambolle and Chablis Montmains, this week also in multiple locations in the Mâconnais and Beaujolais. In truth, these are young vines and they are always ‘early’ but the next few days will bring the real, the general, flowering. But there’s no getting away from it – by the end of April, the vines were two to three weeks ahead of where the 2019 vintage was on this date.

Since the start of May, the weather has been cooler and much wetter – which I can also confirm has been the case 280km away in Bern – practically gloves required for jogging today in 5°C!

2020 is now back to being neck-and-neck with the 2011 and 2007 vintages at this stage – still joint most precocious of the last 15+ years. But after this recent rain – 30-50 mm in the last week – and a return to warmer temperatures that should arrive in the next few days, it’s unlikely to lose any ground on those two vintages. Actually, and despite practically 5 weeks of dry weather in March-April, there has been more rain since October than either of 2007 or 2011 – so there could even be a growth spurt in the next week or two! As previously noted, mid-August harvesting remains a distinct possibility!

To date, a few small signs of oïdium have been noted but there seems to be no mildew for now. Sage words from Sylvie Esmonin to end with:

rain, rain, (don’t) go away…

By billn on April 28, 2020 #vintage 2020

At last…

There has been a tiny amount of rain in Burgundy and Beaujolais in the last 50 days, but not everywhere – fortunately, there had been plenty since October. The ground has been parched and most domaines with new plantings of vines have had to return to give them water. This weekend, finally, it has rained – and quite stormily too. The forecast is largely wet for most of the following days, that will cheer the growers up – it has been hard work in the vines having to wear t-shirts and sunglasses for most of March and April 🙂

Let’s see how we continue, but for the moment the vines are very vigorous; in terms of their stage of growth, they are the most advanced recorded – a couple of days ahead of the 2007 vintage at the end of April – that’s 3 weeks in advance of where they were in 2019! I don’t have a comparison to 2003 or 1947!

Côte d'Or Rainfall
Source: Chambre d’Agriculture de Côte-d’Or, 27 April 2020

one year ago…

By billn on April 20, 2020 #vintage 2020

They say that a week is a long time in politics, but the weeks keep racking-up in Burgundy – the warm weeks that is!

I was struck by the photo (right) that cropped up on my phone over the weekend which highlights the similarities and differences between 2019 and 2020. Both of the vintages had a relatively mild winter and an early start to the vine growth – occasionally with 20°C in the vines in February. The vines are perhaps a little more advanced this year than in 2019. Where 2019 and 2020 currently diverge, is that April and most of May 2019 were much colder, significantly retarding the earlier gains in vine growth – there was even a sprinkling of snow in May. So far, that’s not been the case in 2020.

In 2020 we began the year with plenty of rain in the soil – but the year has been rather dry since then – rainfall has been rare in March and April 2020. The vineyards seem as dry as they might in July or August. Yes, the summer was hot in 2019 (the second hottest year on record), and for that reason, the harvest still almost touched on August despite the ‘lost’ weeks during April and May – but for now, there seems no relenting of the warm (for April) weather. If this continues we could be seeing new records again for harvesting dates – mid-August anyone?

in the vines it’s not all blue-sky, sunshine and distancing…

By billn on April 09, 2020 #vintage 2020

There are also lots of bugs to be squished – you’re not eating them, so I’m sure it’s both biodynamic and vegan!

frostwatch 2020

By billn on April 02, 2020 #vintage 2020

I note that there are vigneron(ne)s in the Rhône that have serious frost problems this week. The temperatures have just been dipping below the ‘fire the candles up‘ and ‘start-up the wind machines‘ point in a few parts of the Côte d’Or today – more-so, seemingly than either Chablis or Beaujolais. Of course, it’s a little more pressing this week than last, as more leaves are starting to unfurl – the afternoon temperatures that are 20°C or more in the full sun are hardly helping. It’s largely the same scenario as the last few years – early bud-break, perfectly timed for the Spring frosts…

The third and fourth images in the instagram post of Véronique Drouhin are very impressive…

Burgundy Report

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