Vintage 2020

vintage 2020…

By billn on July 23, 2020 #vintage 2020

Week 30 2020 - Puligny
Puligny-Montrachet, 22 July 2020

Steady as she goes – and still 3-4 days ahead of the 2003 growing season.

Many in the Côte de Beaune are looking to have their teams back from holidays by Monday 17th August to prepare for their harvest but actual picking around 18th-20th August is not out of the question for the early pickers. The earliest estimated start that I know of in the Côte de Nuits, so far, is 22 August but habitual late-picker Pierre Damoy is thinking more along the lines of 8-25th September, for now.

Puligny 1er rouge!This week we see temperatures of 31-35°C – the first time this year with such consistency of temperature – and for the very first time there are a few yellow leaves starting to appear on young vines – that’s a combination of the heat and dryness – last week’s few mm of rain (3-20mm) hasn’t really done very much. Most vines look in great shape; veraison is underway in most red wine vineyards now and is becoming much more visible in Hautes Côtes too – right, Puligny 1er Clos des Caillerets. Mildew is very rare this year, and as the sugar starts to rise in the berries, those areas with a little oïdium are being less affected.

The last treatments in the vines are largely done now, tractors in the vines more likely to be doing a little trimming of the vines – overwhelming now it’s the start of the domaine holidays…

Food traps have been set up* to follow the evolution of the populations of common fruit flies and their Suzuki cousins – this monitoring will continue until the harvest. There have been, for the last two weeks, some reports of ‘large populations’ of Suzuki close to fruit orchards (cherry, plum, etcetera) but nothing yet in the vines.
*Chambre d’Agriculture

2020 – the state of play…

By billn on July 15, 2020 #vintage 2020

Chardonnay veraison
Harder to see than in pinot, obviously, but here is a little chardonnay veraison in Puligny, today

Today, 15th July, there were some modest showers of rain – but still enough to clog your shoes with argilo-calcaire if you were in the vines. The next ten days look dry and predominantly sunny – 26-32°C – that’s an accurate description of most of the summer to date. Good light seems to be an ever-present this year, so it is of no surprise that, despite no great heat, the vintage is keeping ahead of the all records for harvesting dates – it’s even 3 days ahead of the retained data for 2003, the grapes of both colours now starting to show veraison:

maturity 15 July 2020

We can reasonably expect that wines produced this year will be very different to most early vintages – those vintages typically showcasing hot summers – 2020 is different, no heat spikes and good growing conditions – it simply began its journey very early in the year. But for now, let us not forget the sage old saying that ‘August makes the must‘ – though these days it’s more like ‘the last two weeks of July and the first weeks of August that now make the must!‘ With that in mind, a week of 36-38°C will certainly change things – indeed it may block maturity and push the harvest much later down the line. Currently, many producers of whites have taken out their pencils and circled 20-25 August on their calendars and suggest that some of their parcels of pinot may be near the front of that queue!
*Arrow graphic from the Chambre d’Agriculture.

vintage 2020, the current status

By billn on July 08, 2020 #vintage 2020

Puligny-Montrachet 1er Les FolatièresSo far, it looks like the 2020 vintage has the chance to be remembered for the quality of its wines, more than as the covid vintage.
Right, Puligny-Montrachet 1er Les Folatières, yesterday

The vine development continues apace and, to date, the vines have neither water nor mineral constraints – the former having been taken care of by the rain of May and June. May had many more hours of sunshine than the average, June slightly less. We are just passing the 30°C barrier this week, but have seen none of the 35-42°C temperatures of the last 2-3 years – not yet, anyway!

In the Côte d’Or, and already for a week, the very first grape clusters with veraison (colour change) have been seen, but these the are the most precocious of outliners and most typically seen in the youngest of vines. In general, the clusters have not yet fully closed up – except where there is some serious millerandage closure typically happens before any colour-change. That said, the next 10 days or-so should see a much wider start to veraison.

The only cloud in this growing season, so far, is that oïdium is becoming more of a concern – for the whites in particular. Some growers have suggested to me that if it gets a lot worse they may be forced to consider some systemic treatments and exit whatever organic certifications they may have been pursuing. The last treatments should be made no less than 30 days before harvesting, so the window for those last treatments is slowly closing.

Reading all of the available bulletins shows a vintage that remains comparable to 2011 in terms of its timing, though one important producer of Chambolle-Musigny noted that, given the current rate of development, he will probably be harvesting his earliest parcel of pinot around the 22nd of August! Some producers have already started doing the unthinkable – they are now going on holiday in July instead of August – and that’s because the harvest will be so early.

At this stage, the producers seem to be having fewer problems finding pickers than in the most recent vintages, but how to deal with social distancing for lodgers and the worker that they feed, still needs to have some thought! Of course, we can’t ignore the possibility of a second wave of covid infections, with this in mind, the people who would rent you a machine to pick your grapes, are practically overbooked!

it’s warming up nicely!

By billn on July 07, 2020 #travels in burgundy 2020#vintage 2020

Just a few pictures, taken today, from between Montrachet and Folatières in the commune of Puligny-Montrachet.

At 8 am I was happy to be wearing a sweatshirt – no-longer at 9 am. Almost 30° today and a couple of degrees warmer is possible in the next days…

the weekly vintage update…

By billn on June 09, 2020 #vintage 2020

Hail! In the last week there has been rain everywhere – anywhere between 12-36mm – and in some places it has been accompanied by hail; near Meursault-Puligny and Marsannay on June 3rd plus another (shorter) episode took place between Chambolle and Gevrey on June 8th. Vineyard damage was rare not least because the ‘grapes’ are so small. It does keep everyone on their toes, though!

For now, the 2020 vintage remains just ahead of the 2007 and 2011 vintages in terms of precocity and 3 weeks ahead of 2019 – that’s despite the cooler, wetter weather of the last days. Last week only the Hautes Côtes still had some flowering to complete, but now it’s all done.

Short and sweet – that’s enough for now!

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


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:

Burgundy Report

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