Vintage 2021

an update from the côtes…

By billn on June 28, 2021 #travels in burgundy 2021#vintage 2021

It’s now the mid-point of the summer and to all intents and purposes, the flowering of the vines in Burgundy is now over.

The recent combination of plenty of rain and temperatures of around 30° means that the vines have exploded into life – the flowering this year – what flowers remained – was relatively fast. Whilst the flowering was quite quick despite the frost of April, it seems that the grapes are far from homogenous – small grapes, larger grapes and a mixture of sizes await in the same parcel.

The overall effect of the warmth and plenty of rain has been to push the growth cycle of the vines significantly forward such that comparing the same stage at the end of June in other vintages, 2021 is now roughly in line with 2012 and 2019.

End june 2021 - vintage comparisons
Vintage comparisons/estimations, above, from the Chambre d’Agriculture.

We can assume that if all other things remain equal, then 2021 will actually be an earlier vintage than either of 2012 or 2019 – that will be due to the much smaller crop, due to frost, which will ripen faster than if there were more grapes were on the vine. Domaines are currently pencilling in harvest from mid-September but we can keep an open mind for now.

Not unsurprisingly, given so much rain and warm weather together, there is currently a heightened risk of mildew in the vines. Normally, the weather conditions that are required for oïdium are quite different – but also the risk is relatively high for oïdium too at the moment. Certainly, the forecast for the next week is stormy and cooler – I will keep my fingers crossed that hail such as seen between Gevrey and Brochon plus the storm last week in Pouilly-Fuissé, will not re-occur.

A few mixed images from last week:

Hail in the southern Mâconnais

By billn on June 23, 2021 #vintage 2021

Pouilly-Vinzelles, today...
Pouilly-Vinzelles, today…

Just 2 days ago, Solutre & Pouilly(-Fuissé) were badly hit by hail. I managed to take a tour of the vines while visiting today.

Much damage was done to the leaves and to what grapes there were – even the wood of the thicker stems was badly bruised and often snapped off towards the end of the branches. Yesterday, it didn’t look too bad as everything was still green, today the browning of the impact points had begun and I’m sure it will look even worse tomorrow.

The hail really came in a band and was accompanied by a high wind that exacerbated the damage – it just so happens that (in and around Fuissé) this band of weather followed the line of the new 1er Crus of Pouilly-Fuissé – and in only their second vintage too! As one vigneron of Fuissé described it today: “In some places there is no real drama, though we still have some effect from the hail, in other places it’s much worse and we wait for the official inspection. In these latter places, it’s clearly not just a case of this year’s losses but also how easy it will be to make our pruning for 2022 – some vines will clearly be complicated in this respect. You can see where there are puncture holes in the leaves there is generally damage to the grape clusters below too – and we’d only just, say 95%, finished the flowering too.

Indeed, it wasn’t just a case of various grapelets taking direct impacts; the recently flowered ‘bunches’ when taking a hail impact usually break off completely or lose at least half their length – and, given the frosts of April, there was so little potential yield in the first place.

At least in Vergisson they had some luck and were not touched – but then they have already lost about 80% to the frost so…

2021 is not for the faint-hearted vigneron – particularly, so far, the producers of whites. Some images from today:

the last (floral) days…

By billn on June 15, 2021 #vintage 2021

Batch 2 - iris 2021

I thought I’d update you after this first image of the iris crop chez-moi this year. Two were missing in action this year – no blooms – but still a creditable 14 different ones this year. The yellows were the first and the last…

With all the seedlings, I’m running out of space for more.

A later flowering year but still a good year for them, without too much rainy weather over the flowering season – maybe I’ve another 10 days to enjoy the blooms before it’s all over for 2021…

yesterday in the côtes…

By billn on June 10, 2021 #travels in burgundy 2021#vintage 2021

Beaune Gréves - mainly
Yesterday afternoon. Mainly Beaune Gréves but a little Toussaints and Bressandes to the right…

Obviously, some damage in Gevrey-Chambertin yesterday but the storms were extremely localised. The rest of the Côte d’Or was threatened – like Beaune above – but there was rarely more than occasional rumbles of thunder and a few spots of rain – unlike the 40mm of rain in just a few minutes that fell on the vines of Gevrey! Of course, there is damage here, which will compound the frost from April…

For me a trip to see the work (and what work!) that is underway at the Château de Pommard and then in the afternoon a chance to see the rare vine varieties that are being conserved in Beaune; Tressot Noir, Côt, Troyen, Gamay Castille or Oberlin Noir anyone? That latter variety the only one that was starting to flower – it was also the first (of these) in 2020 too.

As for flowering, in general; there are some early outliners in the vines – usually those in sunny spots, protected by walls – but it will be another week before the Côte d’Or really gets into the swing of flowering. Almost a week ago there were some flowerings in the ‘Americans’ as the locals describe the suckers that sprout from the American rootstocks – normally the proper flowering of the chardonnays and then pinots begins 10-14 days later…

For me, today will be a little typing, coffee drinking (terraces!), jogging and a visit to taste some Meursault…

hail storms in gevrey-chambertin this afternoon…

By billn on June 09, 2021 #vintage 2021

Or just storms with some hail? It’s merely cloudy in Beaune right now, but in Gevrey:

the current stage of 2021’s growth

By billn on June 02, 2021 #vintage 2021

Cote d'Or growth 01-Jun-2021
Recent vintages compared – each at the end of May – Chambre d’Agriculture, Côte d’Or

2021 So far:
– A year with reasonably cold winter temperatures followed by sunglasses and t-shirts in the vines in February/March.
– April turning colder then, for a few days, hotter, then heavily frosted – of note, many areas experienced an extra volume of vine-munching caterpillars.
– May was wet and cool
– Now it’s warming up again – and we could be moving into a rapid phase of growth for the vines – but they need it!
– The concerns over mildew are yet to be substantiated…

From the graphic above, ex Chambre d’Agriculture, Côte d’Or, this is (at the same date) five days behind even the 2013 vintage where many/most finished harvesting in October. There’s definitely some catching up to be done…

Beaune – day 1

By billn on May 19, 2021 #vintage 2021

Beaune day 1

As you can see from the above – this was Beaune Day 1.

Day 1 of the opening of restaurant terraces – and suddenly Beaune has woken from its slumbers – so many people, so few parking spaces!

Despite a long-range forecast that suggested rain every day this week – there have only been intermittent showers. The temperatures, even when sunny have stayed in the teens. There has been plenty of rain this year so far – though compared to wet (starting) vintages such as 2013 and 2016 we currently have about 75% of the rainfall of those two. You know about the April frosts and the return of some frost at the start of May too but Saint Glace is now nearly a week behind us.

The cold and cool weather has had its effect on the growth of the vines – we are close to 4 weeks behind the growth of the vines last year – so whilst the arrival of hot weather will see a spurt of growth it’s unlikely that we will see harvesting before the 20th September. I can also see this delay in my garden; my collection of irises continues to grow and there are many flower buds and whilst the irises of Beaune are well underway, in Bern I am still waiting – none have opened yet – the first last year was Tuesday 5th May! Maybe this weekend…

But what exactly will the Côte d’Or be harvesting?

For reds, it seems that the late pruners have lost the least – but still, a conservative one-third of the crop is gone – Savigny was terribly frosted in 2016 but the growers tell me that 2021 will have better yields – though at least 80% of the whites have been lost in that village. Wandering around Corton there are vines with 5 or 6 bunches starting to show – assuming an okay flowering – but other vines show nothing. Perhaps one-third to half a crop here. Of course, such estimates can be taken with a pinch of salt pre-flowering…

I’ll keep you posted.

Oh, and given the lack of 2021 harvest to look forward to, I think you can already guess where the bulk prices of the 2020s are going…

not just rain…

By billn on May 11, 2021 #travels in burgundy 2021#vintage 2021

Yesterday, Beaune was a bit of a wash-out. They need rain – the vines – so no complaining!

Today I was in Chablis and St.Bris – a short week as Thursday is the Ascension holiday and they typically roll that into Friday too, hence, the short week.

Drier today – except when the thunderstorms hit! There was (I was told) a little hail in Beines. The forecast is not great for the next 10 days, which has the growers anxiously looking at the indicators for mildew – that was the big problem after the 2016 hail – and, well, the indicators are not that good.

Of course, I’ll keep you updated.

A few pics:

Oh, and a reader-contributor – Marko de Morey – alerted me to this headline – so beware if you plan to visit Beaujolais!!!

Wolf spotted outside Lyon for the first time in ‘more than a century’

more frost in 2021…

By billn on May 04, 2021 #vintage 2021

Last week I noted many vineyards still with frost candles waiting to be collected – it seems it wasn’t a case of the owners being lazy, rather they were waiting for more cold weather.

Overnight 02-03 May – so yesterday morning – the temperatures dipped again. In certain sectors of the Hautes-Côtes such as Chevannes and Villars, or villages lower down such as Marsannay, Gevrey, Vosne & Premeaux – even Meursault and Chassagne too – the temperatures, once more, sunk below zero. The thermometers registering between –2° and –3°C in some places. Some vigneron(ne)s have posted pictures on Instagram today of sad looking leaves.

It’s still too early to say what the effect of this year’s frosts will be, but this clearly hasn’t helped.

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