Vintage 2023

Early July update – Vintage 2023…

By billn on July 11, 2023 #vintage 2023

Dropping some bunches in Montrachet...
Dropping some bunches in Montrachet…

What a year we are having – so far…

From flirting with frost – though practically without damage – followed by a slow, almost leisurely start to the year’s growth. The first estimates for harvesting suggested mid-September – maybe later – but the speed of growth has, by far, outstripped those early projections.

The flowering dovetailed with very good weather conditions – the previously cool nights (always under 10°C) warming up significantly during this important period. The yields and formation of the grape clusters was excellent in the pinot though for the chardonnay there was some coulure – though still, the chardonnay had plenty of crop. The pinot with more time looks very uniform but with rather large bunches…

So many vignerons commented to me that the June weather resembled more that of a normal August but with the benefit of regular, largely not too heavy rain – a little hail was experienced around Vosne to Chambolle on the 19th June but it was minor and versus the apparently large yields in the pinot, could be considered inconsequential. The lasting concern remains that of storms. Sunday 19th July seeing some hail in the crus of Beaujolais – more than experienced in the Côte de Nuits but still not a large drag on the yields – and there is time for the affected grapes to dry and drop to the ground – which is already the case in the Côte de Nuits.

For now, there are no concerns about drought; to date, there has been a little more rain in the Côte de Nuits than in the Côte de Beaune.

Returning to the theme of yields, many domaines are discussing green harvests and some have already begun. Most domaines prefer to wait until veraison before cutting any grapes – seeing what the forecast storms may bring – but veraison is iminent. I’ve seen one image of veraison already today – which is a timing similar to 2007 and 2022 – but the major colour changes will be in another week…

So what does all this warm weather – estimated to be 3°C above the average for the month of June – punctuated by ‘enough’ rain, mean for the harvest? Mid-September harvesting will now be a rare thing. Many domaines are suggesting starting around the 5th September for reds and a few domaines in Meursault are keeping a sharp watch but also preparing to be ready for the last days of August.

What was once – in the context of the last 10 years – expected to be quite a late harvest, is now looking to be another quite early one. A relatively clean one too (for now): oïdium is the major worry in hotter, drier, vintages but, perhaps, due to sufficient rain, the concern about this particular fungus is on a lower level than most other recent vintages.

A 2023 vintage update from the côtes – and my garden…

By billn on June 02, 2023 #vintage 2023

Let’s start with the important stuff – my garden!

The irises are later this year – no surprise – sunny weather in the last weeks but still rather cold in the nights – only in the last week have the overnight temperatures risen to something of a seasonal norm. A few flowers are still missing but it looks like a similar timing to 2019 (iris vintage) in my Swiss garden…

Now to Burgundy:

Like at home, the nights (until quite recently) have been cool here too, but the sunshine has been pushing the growth. We have recovered a few days – despite zero rain in the last 10 days or-so – so it’s a vintage whose stage of growth is now 4 or 5 days ahead of 2019 and just a little behind the vintages of 2014, 2015 and 2017. The vignerons are speculating of a harvest commencing around the weekend of 09-10 September.

And there have been the first flowers in the last few days too – so we can expect mid-flowering in the chardonnay next week and maybe a few days later for the pinot noir.

And some of the iris in question:

2023 Irisis

Monday’s pics…

By billn on May 03, 2023 #travels in burgundy 2023#vintage 2023

Most have the vines in the Côte de Nuits now have some leaves and all of those in the Côte de Beaune do.

Looking at the weather forecast, it’s warmer in the coming nights – it looks like we can forget about frost (thumbs up!)

Vintage 2023…

By billn on April 25, 2023 #vintage 2023

Yes I know, it’s very early to be making comparisons – but – we still do have some useful reference points, even at this early stage of the 2023 vintage.

Most places seem to have come through the frosts unscathed – though there are still 2 weeks until the Saint-Glace when the potential of frosts visiting the vineyards can be (historically!) forgotten.

The weather has remained rather fresh in the nights and early mornings despite sunny sheltered daytime spots quickly heating up. The result of this pattern of weather is a vintage whose early indicators suggest a mid to late September harvest – see below – but things can, and still may, change as quickly as the weather!

2023 vintage status - 25 April 2023

Most of the chardonnay are now showing their first leaves but the pinot noir and gamay are barely breaking their buds – only a few sunny spots are starting to show leaves.

Plenty of vineyards sites – last week – still had their baguettes (canes) standup up – often with extra buds left in place. The ‘definitive’ pruning to come – i.e. the cutting of the last 4 buds, or so, and then attaching the cane to the wire – with this done, all the buds see the same amount of sap versus when ‘standing up’ when the end buds get preferential treatment. This is the utility of late pruners, hoping that if a frost comes, just the end buds – which will anyway be discarded – might be the only parts hurt by the frost.

The last days saw rains in Côte d’Or of up to 20mm – that following a relatively dry and sunny week. To date, the largest challenge in the vines has been the bud-eating caterpillars – the mange-bourgeons – but the work in the vines has been aided/facilitated by the modest amount of rain this year so far – and judging by the number of tractors and horses in action – there is much work to do!

That’s enough for this week!

Early notes – vintage 2023…

By billn on April 12, 2023 #vintage 2023

Puligny - early bud-burst 2023... The candles were deployed last week in the Côte d’Or – the windmills too.

Most were not used – but a few saw service with temperatures hovering around -1°C. The weather was dry so these measures were more prophylactic than as a counter to any yield-limiting events. I could say the same for Beaujolais too where I noted a few candles in the vines but none that were gainfully employed.

In Chablis, there were a couple of nights of candle-burning – the sprays were turned on too – temperatures a little lower than the Côte d’Or. I’m not aware of any major gnashing of teeth, so I suspect that they probably got through things relatively unscathed. All the regions have ‘enjoyed’ a little wind so that usually reduces the impact of frost too.

Did I mention that the timing of (potential) frost(s) was, almost to the day, exactly the same as in 2021 and 2022? That being the case we can see that the growth is less advanced this year than either of the last two vintages, so issues should be few and far between – for now. Given similar timings of frost, the stage of growth in the vines becomes important. 2023 is at a similar growth timing to last year – 2022 – ie – a few days later than was the case in 2021 – so 2023 has less to damage and the (frost) temperatures were milder this year too – so for now – all looks fine. There are always earlier areas (and younger vines are earlier too) but bud-burst (on average) for Chardonnay is not expected until mid-April with the pinot noir expected to follow one week later.

Over the last 6 months, the average of rainfall across the Côte d’Or/Hautes Côtes is 333 mm with a minimum of 286mm recorded in Auxey-Duresses and a maximum of 389mm recorded in Echevronne. The average is currently 362mm, so the deficit over these 6 months is only 9%. Nobody is reporting any excess dryness at this stage, despite the popular news stories at the start of this year proclaiming that France had over 30 consecutive days without rain.

Ignoring frost or rain, the mange-bourgeons – caterpillars to you and I – are starting their annual rampage, and this year they could pose the threat of more losses than the frost. A farmer’s work is never done!

Burgundy Report

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