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2008 harvest, lowest since 2003…

A bookend on 2008 from the BIVB:

The 2008 Burgundy harvest is down 5.3 % on the 2007 harvest, and 4.4% against the average of the past five years. It amounts to the equivalent of 193 million bottles for a virtually unchanged production area (-0.2 %) of 27,626 hectares.

With the exception of the small heat-induced 2003 harvest, it is 10 years since the harvest was so low. As for red wines, with the equivalent of 60 million bottles (-6 %), there had not been such a small harvest (with the exception of 2003) since 1984.
White wine production is also down by 6 % at the equivalent of 116 million bottles, with regional AOCs and Mâconnais wines the most affected.
Only Crémant de Bourgogne is continuing to grow with a new record of nearly 17 million bottles (+2.6 %), or nearly 9 % of the Burgundy harvest, with 29 % for red wines, 1 % for rosés and 60 % for whites.

And from Domaine Joseph Drouhin:

The vintage report: 2008 Burgundy blessed with another great vintage

Autumn and winter were rather dry and mild; spring was cool and humid,
followed by a summer resembling 2007. By mid-September, the weather in
Burgundy turned extraordinary and allowed harvesting to take place under
ideal conditions.

Depending on the areas, the overall quantity is lower: 5% to 30% less than
in 2007. On the other hand, the quality level is high – and in Chablis even
exceptional.

Summary of the 2007/2008 growing season
Burgundy experienced a severe cold spell in mid-December but milder
conditions were prevalent in January and February. The average monthly
temperature was actually 2°C higher than normal. It didn’t rain much and
there was a water deficit during February.

But the rain shortfall ended in March and the long sunny period that
Burgundy had enjoyed that winter came to an end. In fact, it was probably
the sunniest winter of these last ten years.
Winter made a last-ditch intrusion at Easter: it snowed that day.

April was cool and wet, with little sunshine. By then, the amount of
rainfall received was twice as heavy as usual. The vine seemed to take its
time to grow: in some vineyards the buds were barely swelling on the branch
whereas, in better exposed areas, they were already sprouting and open.

No sooner had spring arrived that summer-like conditions became the norm.
The month of May was warm, with temperatures reaching 25°C (78°F) at times.
The vine took advantage of these conditions to develop rapidly. By mid-May
there were already 8 to 9 leaves out on the vine, the same level of
development seen in 2005.

The weather was rather cool and rainy for June. The flowering took place
over a two-week period, causing some coulure here and there (failure of the
grape to develop after flowering). Those vines planted in late-ripening
areas benefitted the most: when the temperature started to rise, the
flowering took place rapidly and uniformly.

At the beginning of July, the berries were well formed and distinct. By
July 15th, the grapes had assumed their final shape. The amount of sunshine
was close to normal, except in August. The change of color (véraison)
occurred in Beaujolais around August 15th. . It quickly spread to Côte d’Or
and Chablis as the climatic conditions improved dramatically.

The weather was cooler and wetter at the beginning of September, with
outbreaks of botrytis noticed in some areas. Maturation was progressing
slowly and the picking was due to begin September 22nd.

The weather turned beautiful by mid-September and stayed that way for the duration of the harvest: bright skies, dry and windy days, marked difference in temperature between day and night. The vines kept ripening under ideal conditions and all botrytis infection disappeared.

Style of the wines:
Chablis: In Chablis, 2008 may be one the best vintages of the last 25 years: great minerality, concentration, balance, aromatic intensity, liveliness. These wines are now developing under excellent conditions.

Côte d’Or: In mid-August who would have thought that these wines would turn out to be so good?

White wines: The wines have well developed aromas and their level of acidity is higher than usual. Stirring the lees gives the wines nice volume. We are waiting to see what influence the malolactic fermentation will have. It has actually started in a few of the cuvées. The quality level is overall excellent.

Red wines: Beautiful ruby-red color. As with the whites, the acidity level is high. The wines are therefore lively but their malolactic fermentation has not yet started, which is a good thing in our opinion. The wines have good stuffing, tannin and a discreet finesse which should become more apparent as the élevage goes on.

Frédéric J. DROUHIN
January, 19th 2009

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