We are most of the way through the Côte de Nuits harvest now – let’s say 90% complete – though given a good forecast not everyone is picking just yet. The weather has been great – except for the early morning pickers who get blue fingers due to the cold – the blue skies have continued and the tempertaure has increased by about a degree per day. Suncream is required for pale-skinned types like me – but please don’t get it on the grapes!
In the end it will come down to the quality of the fruit. With the exception of a few hailed areas (quite early in the growing season) the fruit seems to be in great shape. As noted during the weekend, the grapes have very little rot, the pips are brown and it is only the how ripe the tannins from the skins taste that is driving some of the domaines’ decisions. Yields from the vines look like they will be a little down on 2004, but much more was discarded last year, so wine in bottle could be more plentiful.
Growers are still laking of another 1990 or 2002 but better – we will find out in due course, but anyway it looks like we will have fun tasting!
For those interested in one domaine’s detailed look at the harvest, you can find an interesting MSWord document here from Domaine de la Vougeraie
The sun is shining and yesterday’s breeze is today’s wind – the flags stand proud. Despite the sun, I didn’t see anybody in the (outdoor) hotel pool this morning – at 10:00am it was still 7°C! At the cuverie everything is ready; the table de trie is waiting, the plastic cases for the grapes stand in line and triage team try to agree on the choice of music – Placebo or Romanian folk music – it could be a tougher day than anticipated!
Here we go – close to three tonnes of grapes from Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Les Peiullets. This vineyard had real heat stress in August and was desperate for the early September rain. Despite the cool weather, the grapes were harvested in the sun and are warm to the touch. They are very ripe and, compared to last year they are easy to sort; everything is ripe, some dried grapes need to be removed and there is a tiny amount of rot in the centre of some bunches – done.
It’s only small team today as a) it’s Sunday and b) we’re only expecting about 5-6 tonnes of grapes. Lunch is washed down with a surprisingly good 2002 Dugat-Py Gevrey – where’s the wood? – it needed testing, and what more appreciative audience 🙂 Later in the afternoon we start getting the grapes for the Bourgogne Rouge; the fruit hails from Meursault. Compared to the Savigny, the grapes have less dried berries but do require the removal of the occasional unripe or rotten bunch. We decide on ‘Europe 2’ for the radio and a quick rythmn is established
As the last grapes go through the triage, the wind has gone and the temperature is a balmy(!) 14°C at 8:30pm. Unfortunately duty calls (plus a tasting of multiple vintages of La Tâche!) and I must head for home, however, the local team will be our eyes and ears as the grapes come in over the next 5 or so days. If we avoid rain on Monday and Tuesday any future rain will be inconsequential for the wine quality – just the colour of the picker’s boots and legs!
I arrived today in Beaune with a car full of waterproof clothing – rain was forecast but thankfully never arrived – instead we had sun, 17°C and, if you were caught out in the open, a chilly breeze. It had rained a little the previous two days which is always a nightmare in the vineyards – like some bad dream; you walk slower and slower as your feet get bigger and heavier – the mud really clings. The breeze was such that the Côte de Beaune vineyards I wandered round this afternoon were completely dry – no heavy shoes – and the grape clusters were also dry.
I spent the afternoon wandering around vineyards in Pommard, Volnay, Meursault & Puligny, followed by quick drive through St.Aubin. Much of the village vines have been harvested though many of the premier cru vineyard’s grapes still hang in anticipation.
Harvesting was going on in all the appellations except St.Aubin – but I could have missed them as it was close to 6:00pm by the time I got there. I have to say the grapes look in very good shape – I saw almost zero rot, not many shrivelled grapes either. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on some grapes tomorrow.
This evening we repair to Beaune for the last evening of the annual Jazz à Beaune. We stumble out into the cold (sub 10°C and cold breeze) morning (it’s almost 1:00am) following great sets by the Elio Villafranca Quartet and the Kenny Baron Trio.
This year the ‘ban des vendanges’ were set as follows:
- 12 Sept for the Côte de Beaune
- 15 Sept for the Côte de Nuits
- 17 Sept for the Hautes-Côtes de Beaune and Nuits
So what can we expect? The base for this vintage is the cool July, the hot & dry August and the much-hoped-for arrival of a little rain at the start of September. The rain cleared for the sun to return, prefacing the potential for a good harvest of healthy grapes. It must be marketing season as some growers are already invoking the name of 1990 as a possible comparison, assuming of-course that the weather holds for a couple more days…
What a week! It started with a 4:15am alarm call last Friday and a flight to the UK, finally returning late Thursday night. In between there was the wine-pages.com superBOWL in Glasgow where one or two bottles were consumed, actually about 500 in one day by less than 70 people! Of-course that was on the Saturday – so there was much practising on Friday evening too… Then Monday to Thursday, a whirlwind tour of Bradford(!) and London with three Russian colleagues; my amex will hopefully get a week or two of rest now. Finally today a flying visit to Marsannay (actually Chenove) then Beaune, if the dog didn’t need collecting from the kennels, I’d be able to have a lie-in tomorrow…
Action packed day… a little work at Domaine pumping down wine and then off to visit some marquis sites in the Cote de Beanue. It was the prettiest day yet, so photo opps at the vineyards such as Montrachet and Genevrieres were perfect. While taking a few photos of the Montrachet vineyards, we exchanged pleasantries with a woman harvesting grapes with her crew in “Caillerets,” a Monopole vineyard of Domaiine Chartron. Turns out she is the sister of Chartron and she insisted that we meet her brother to taste some their wines…OK twist my tongue. That is one thing that continues to impress me about the people of Burgundy….their hospitality and kindness even when they are busy.
We tasted a few their Premier Crus and they exhibited an amazing clean, pure quality with that classic beam of minerality you find only there. Chartron was still harvesting while others we already finished. We asked why…He asked the same question. Why the hurry? Jean said wanted to wait a little longer as he believed a few more days would only add to quality of the final wines. We’ll see.
We got a bottle to go as we headed to Meursault for a little lunch in the vineyards. Of course it didn’t last long, so we needed more. But where? I knew the answer… Meursault!
While in Meursault we stopped by Alain Patriarche. (Not to be confused with the Patriarche sign in Beaune – differnet folks) After talking for a minute or two, we bought a bottle of their phenomenal Meaursault, “Vielles Vignes” 2001 and headed to the local deli for some croissants, cheese and meats. We drove to a little side road above the village and enjoyed a picturesque lunch…trully a perfect setting.
It is amazing to me the difference and unique tastes in wines for two villages so close together (Meursault & Puligny Montrachet). After lunch we drove through Volnay and eventually back to Pommard. A good day.
Harvest is over…tonite is the party. Don’t count on any reports.
John in Pommard.
Thursday was jammed packed with good stuff. We harvested grapes in Pommard just above “Les Charmots” and then in the afternoon just over line in Beaune. This was another picture perfect day with cool, dry weather and sunshine and clouds. The weather for harvest is perfect. Like I’ve said before, this is hard work. I worked tractor detail today… dropping the empty cartons along the rows and then coming back to put them on the tractor after they are filled. It is trully amazing how quickly a vineyard can be harvested with a good group of people. In addition to having fun, these folks know the meaning of teamwork. We knocked out an entire vineyard before lunch. And we had the red wine stained hands to prove it.
At 3:30 we made a visit to Domaine Camus, where we made a quick visit to his cellars then up to the one of his 5 Grand Cru vineyards, “Charmes-Chambertin.” He had so many workers out there that he used a bus to transport them. In the brief time I spent with him, I asked Hubert Camus what he thought of the harvest. Although “Charmes-Chambertin” received some hail, he was very pleased with the quality of the grapes. “This is going to be a special wine,” he said with a smile. Hubert always seems to be at ease everytime I have see him, but today his gentle disposition and smile asured me that this was going to be a great vintage. Of course, It’s hard to imagine anything else from “Charmes-Chambertin.”
We get that feeling from most of the producers. There are smiles and singing throughout Burgundy. Despite a few problems here and there, I get the feeling we’re in for another fun vintage.
Tonite at DInner it was “Take me Out to The ball game.” Of course that was after another encore performance of “Do Wah Ditty…” Harvest is finished tomorrow and tomorrow night is the celebration dinner.
John McCune in Pommard.
Just back from 3 days at the triage table, and it was great, good and oh my god in terms of the grapes.
Where there was hail and rot we were discarding as much as 25% of what was brought in – and remember that there was already a rough and ready trie at the vines!
Finished the day with Corton Rognets and these were beautiful grapes, very ripe, very clean but interestingly with the greenest stems I’ve seen all week. I think we did a pretty good job and look forward to tasting the wines as they develop.
The majority of the grapes are now in, Domaine d’Ardhuy still have their Corton-Charlemagne to harvest, but their reds were done a day or two ago.
As good as some reds will doubtless be, the whites could really eclipse the reds this year. Chardonnay is much more robust than Pinot when it comes to hail, it was only the removal of the rot, hence reducing yields, that stopped a really big harvest in whites.