Friday, September 16

A harvest report for 2005

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...

Saturday, September 17

No Ill-Wind

smile!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.

Sunday, September 18

meursault vendange

Now We Start

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!

Thursday, September 22

Perfect Picking

meursault harvest 2005 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!

a sunny sunday of grape harvesting

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