Vintage 2021

18-Sept-2021 – My Beaune harvest, day 1

By billn on September 18, 2021 #vintage 2021

2021 Savigny VillagesWell, ‘my’ is a bit of an overstatement – I’ll get to that later.

The day started with blue sky and sunshine though, versus the last vintage, you have to start an hour later in the vines as it’s nearly one month later harvesting in 2021.

Today my home domaine brought in only reds: Corton, Savigny Aux Jarrons and some more villages Savigny (right). The grapes generally looked not bad – what there were of them – about 22 hl/ha for the 1er cru and closer to 15 hl/ha in the Corton – ouch! You can see from the image (right) that the triage is less than cursory this year after 2-3 vintages where we were only removing dried grapes.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t triaging myself – I arrived in Beaune yesterday evening in good shape and even went for a jog before bed. In the night I couldn’t sleep – hardly at all – and by morning, how can I put it, I had some stomach problems! I’ve been knocked out the whole day – just two quick visits to the domaine to see how things were running.

And tomorrow? I may have some more recovery time – lots of rain is forecast overnight and for the morning too – so if we are harvesting, it’s only likely to be in the afternoon. Let’s see.

harvesting 2021 – and now the start…

By billn on September 15, 2021 #vintage 2021

Morey pinot 2021

The crémant producers of ‘central Burgundy’ are now picking grapes and despite the rain of yesterday, today and tomorrow, the domaines are about to start too.

Pierre-Yves Colin-Morey will begin his harvest on Friday. I will be starting mine, in Beaune, on Saturday – and our domaine will not be alone. Because of the French administration, it’s unlikely that anyone will actually start their harvest on Sunday because it’s classed as the last day of a working week – so picking on Sunday and Monday will require double the amount of paperwork – as the accounting is required for two separate working weeks!

A few isolated domaines in the Beaujolais, mainly further south of the crus, have started their harvesting, whilst in the crus they are making their ‘pied de cuves‘ – their home-made yeast/grape concoctions to have more control over their fermentations – but some of them will probably be underway next week too.

As for Chablis – the frost knocked things back so they will be waiting a few days longer…

Whilst I’ll be keeping my running commentary on the vintage in these diary pages, we will, unfortunately, be missing the words of Marko de Morey (sometimes of Vosne). He’s recovering well from a surgery – or seemed to be when I met him 3 weeks ago! – but hasn’t got the green light to harvest this year. I’m sure we all wish him a speedy and full recovery…

gratuitous 2021 grape images…

By billn on September 09, 2021 #vintage 2021

Morey Saint Denis 08-Sept-2021The weather has cooled a little today and we’ve seen just a few drops of rain this afternoon – but practically nothing so far – certainly none of the heavy rain and flooding seen in some parts of France this week. There’s rain forecast for both overnight and daytime tomorrow but then the nice weather returns until Tuesday when storms are forecast – but they were also forecast for this week too – and it doesn’t look like we will be getting any of that.

I spoke to Jean-Pierre Tournier today, of the decently sized red/white Domaine François Gaunoux of Meursault and he said they were planning to start harvesting around the 25th – the traditionally earlier harvesters might be 5-6 days sooner. I also shortly chatted with Stephane Follin-Arbelet of the Château de Meursault – he told me that after the frost and some further challenges from mildew and oïdium, he was anticipating yields of about 5 hl/ha in his Meursault-Perrières. Lastly, Antoine Olivier of that domaine in Santenay told me that he won’t be waiting too long – he’ll probably start on the 18th of September.

My photographic tour of vines in the Côte de Nuits yesterday and the southern Côte de Beaune today, show that for the first time since 2016, triage will be an integral part of the harvest 2021. Yields in reds are all over the place – some vines with nothing and others with plenty of clusters – my very first image taken in Marsannay even shows some green harvesting – but this was on the lower slopes – on the higher and hillside slopes they have, on average, about 50% losses. Puligny was interesting as the edges of vineyards often showed plenty of fruit, but as you went deeper into the vines fewer and fewer bunches could be found – maybe some airflow at the edges disrupted the frost but not within the vineyard(?)

In Beaujolais the early chardonnay pickers may already be underway about the 11th and the early gamays from around the 13th – but the crus will largely mirror the timing of the reds of the Côte d’Or this year.


This week in the côtes…

By billn on September 07, 2021 #vintage 2021

Last week was a full week in the côtes for me, starting to accumulate some 2020-vintage visits prior to the start of harvesting – but I think the topic of harvesting, and what may be harvested, remains the most requested subject of queries to me – so let’s do that…

grape status 07-Sept-20212021 is a vintage that currently lies on a knife-edge of quality – on one side potentially really excellent or on the other side, definitely not!

We’ve had nice stable weather and good light for the last 10 days, or so, and this combination has brought the maturity nicely forward and halted the rot in its tracks. But from the end of this week, the weather is forecast to be more changeable and this could play into the hands of the various maladies of the vine – all is still to play for. Of course, my knife-edge comment refers mainly to the reds where there are plenty of losses but at least 70% of a normal crop, rather than the whites, which may struggle to deliver 25% of a normal crop – these whites could still be very good but will be scarce and if only for that will forever be described as a ‘small’ vintage, regardless of their intrinsic quality.

The ongoing analyses of the BIVB (above right, published today) indicate the movement of these three important analytical aspects since the 30th of August. For those of you who are interested in how many grams per litre of sugar indicates (roughly) ripe, then 230 g/l would indicate somewhere between 13 and 14% alcohol depending on the rate of the sugar’s conversion. Based on the current progression, pinots will certainly be harvested first and that could start before the 20th of September if there’s not much rain and plenty of sun – if there is plenty of rain then the first picks will likely be after the 20th.

As noted, there’s still much to play for, for the producers of reds.

another short update on the 2021 vintage

By billn on August 25, 2021 #vintage 2021

Crushing a grape sample to test the analytics
Crushing a grape sample to test the analytics

Two bite-sized snippets that afford plenty of perspective:

“With the potential harvest parameters of % veraison & vine health being heterogeneous from one plot to another it is, for the moment, very difficult to precisely project the optimal dates for the onset of the harvest. In terms of the stages of vine growth and summer rainfall (125mm in July-August in Beaune, which would be classed as ‘historically normal’), 2021 can be compared to 2012. These trends, to date, indicate starting points of 18-20 September but the evolution of the state of health in the first half of September (notably any development of botrytis) will come into play in the decision.”
Chambre d’Agriculture, Côte d’Or – 24 August 2021

“For the white grape varieties, due to excessive frost damage, only 2/3 of the data points will be available this year. Two-thirds of the sampled plots of chardonnay have passed the mid-veraison stage, however, maturity is not very advanced from an analytical perspective. The plots of aligoté, severely impacted by frost, cannot be sampled this year. For the black grape varieties, samples from a little more than 3/4 of the plots could be collected. These black grape varieties are the most advanced in maturity, particularly the pinot noir where most of the sampled plots are close to full veraison. The sugar contents vary from 145 to 150 g/l, except in the Yonne. The acidities are currently high, in particular, due to a significant presence of both tartaric and high levels of malic acids.”
BIVB Infos – 24 August 2021

a burgundian vintage update…

By billn on August 18, 2021 #vintage 2021

Chambertin 12 days ago
Chambertin, 12 days ago

The last week, or so, has brought some welcome summer weather to Burgundy – even a few days with temperatures above 30°C. There has still been some rainfall, but more modest than in previous weeks, so the veraison is progressing. It seems that veraison in the Côte de Nuits is currently a little more advanced than in the Côte de Beaune or the Chalonnaise. The current estimates are about 50% veraison in the Côte de Beaune and closer to 90% in the Côte de Nuits. Not surprisingly, the veraison in the Hautes Côte is behind these two – but that’s completely normal.

It should be noted that the modest rain of the last days follows on from no lack of rain in the previous weeks – so, there is still much humidity in the Côtes and in the vines. This week the temperatures have been modest – largely under 25°C – it could get closer to 30° at the weekend but next week we will return to 25°C or a bit less.

Given the continuation of warm but not hot weather and still plenty of humidity there remains the question of ‘maladies.’ The bunches of grapes have largely passed the stage where they can be infected by mildew – so those that were clean should remain so – but the weather is allowing plenty of new shoots to be produced and these are susceptible to the disease. Oïdium remains present in the vines – exacerbated by the heavy morning dews.

The harvest date predictions have remained quite stable – though the window is wide – 15-25 September remains the window for most producers, red and white – for now! Officially after the last treatment, you shouldn’t harvest grapes for 30 days – so most producers have already finished their last treatments and are now on holiday.

At least the weather this year will mean that there will be significantly fewer sun-burned clusters of grapes to triage.

A short 2021 update

By billn on July 27, 2021 #vintage 2021

This is the week that marks the outliners of veraison – the first berries are changing colour.

There’s been a consistent delivery of rain across the summer – actually dryness that has been punctuated by rain – sometimes heavy, causing short-lived rivers on vineyard paths. That said, coming from a Springtime deficit of rain, the Côte d’Or is now just below or already above the long-term rainfall average – it just depends on the village. Despite many stormy incidents and plenty with hail in the region. the vines have, so far, avoided new incidences.

So far it’s not really been a hot year – plenty of days have exceeded 30°C but there have been many cooler days too. This mix of warm and humid then cooler is keeping the risk of mildew high and oïdium remains an issue. Even a little botrytis can be found – but it’s too late for any treatment for the latter. The last treatments before the harvest will depend on the approach to viticulture of individual domaines but some have already made their last treatments before heading for their summer holidays and others will probably spray for the last time next week.

To date, the general timing of maturity in 2021 still resembles the trio of vintages; 2019, 2016 and 2012.

And, the best thing to do on a rainy Saturday in Beaune:

2021 weather update

By billn on July 13, 2021 #vintage 2021

mildewToday the weather is changing in Burgundy and once more for the worse.

The growers had been hoping for a couple of weeks of dry weather to rid themselves of the growing issue of downy mildew (right) even powdery mildew in some places too. Here are the main differences.

It seems that, for now, it’s going to stay wet and cool – the rain arriving today and holding station until at least Sunday. Whilst mildew is relatively under control in the Côte d’Or and Hautes Côtes, you don’t even need to get out of the car to spot strongly affected areas of vines in the Côte de Chalonnaise.

Coupled with the rain we have, once more, cooler temperatures too – this week, the forecast suggests that we will hardly break 20°C. At least the cooler temperatures are keeping the threat of oïdium under control though it’s still more prevalent than 1 week ago. From the perspective of weather, this is going to be a very different vintage to those of last 5 years. For now, the pacing of the maturity has retarded from 2012 to more like 2016 – so currently three weeks later than 2020 – but it’s likely to speed up in the areas where the yields are smallest – a lower yield ripening much faster than a higher one.

We are still probably about 2 months from the harvest, but the habitually earlier pickers tell me that their smaller yielding parcels might be ready to pick around Monday the 6th of September. I’ll keep you posted.

hail, at home

By billn on June 30, 2021 #vintage 2021

hail at home

Yesterday was just another day in the waves of storms that we’ve seen at home for a week, or more. Hail caused some damage to the leaves of many garden plants – my pinot noir a little too. But my garden was relatively untroubled compared to about 25 km away in the Emmental where the hail-stones were much larger – they killed storks in their nests on the rooftops – 15 juveniles and even 2 adult birds too.

Not a good day…

Burgundy Report

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