Louis Dressner Selections - Wine Importer

2002 Harvest Reports


Eric Texier.

September 22nd, 2002

Today is the 3rd day of mistral in a row, with cool temperature during the nights (12°C yesterday night) and bright sunshine during the days.
It's the best that could happened.

After 2 days of observation into the vineyard, I think sorting is going to be the key for quality, and through this, hand-picking will again make a huge difference.

So we'll do a double sorting : one into the wineyard (2 buckets, one for the 100 % unrotten grapes and one for the partialy rotten ones) and then a slow sorting of the rotten ones on the sorting table with 4 sorters, 40 kg by 40 kg.

To achieve this, we must double the harvest team.

The loss in quantity is going to be quite important (around 30%), but
hopefully we'll be able to keep pretty decent grappes.

The last measurements we did in Chateauneuf and Côte-Rotie brought the hope back: if mistral goes on through the weekend, the result could be a nice surprise.

Franck Peillot in the Bugey.

By Franck Peillot

Winter 2001-2002 has been a real winter: the last 3 or 4 winters have been mild with very few days with freezing temperatures (for example, in the year 2000, only one week with temperatures between 0 and –3 C). In December 2001, it was often freezing, with lows around –10 to –12 C here in Montagnieu. For a winemaker, that’s a good sign: the vines are able to go into a truly dormant state and one can be certain that diseases and insects will be less virulent.

On the other hand, there was little snow and rain. The spring was also dry (in the period January to June 2002, there was a serious rain deficit compared to the same period in 2001). Actually, one could say that the spring was very dry : we waited until the end of April to plant. In mid-April, there was a cold period (0-1 C at night) which almost froze the new shoots. There was no damage in Montagnieu, but other areas in Bugey were hurt. A pretty rainy month of May gave the new plantings a good watering : it was about time. June brought hot temperatures which sped up our springtime work i.e. de-budding and training the vines on wires. The vines grew very fast with temperatures exceeding 30 C several days in a row : an unusual occurrence for June (those temperatures are more characteristic of the the July 15 – Aug 15 period).

The rest of the summer has been pretty odd also: no periods of intense heat, a lot of humidity and dampness, but no really good rains and, above all, no violent storms. Montagnieu was spared the hail that hit other sections of Bugey.

The vines have been doing well all year, no stress from too much heat, very little mildew and oidium and only a few problems with insects and spiders. The foliage is very healthy which in turn has been beneficial for the grapes: a cool week at the end May when the vines were flowering had reduced the crop, with aborting flowers and millerandage on some of the Altesse and Mondeuse grapes.

The team of seasonal workers (myself included!) were very efficient: the grapes were aerated and exposed to sunlight, the new shoots near the grapes were cut back, all in all, a job well done.

As of today, 9/9/02, ripening progresses: the Altesse grapes have reached 11% and the acidity levels are still sufficiently high. Unfortunately, it has been raining one or two days a week and with the air temperatures being pretty hot (17 to 22 C), we are starting to get concerned about rot.

Now, (once again!), it’s a matter of choosing the best moment to pick the grapes: well-ripened, but without too much rot or too little acidity. The years follow each other, but they don’t resemble each other….But, of course, that’s what makes this interesting work: trying to “understand the vintage”, so that one can bring out the best in the crop. Reproducing what one did in previous years would be a mistake, especially this year. In any case, I remain watchful, imaginative and a scriptwriter (as is my wont), ready for action when I think the time has come to begin the harvest.

News From Domaine de la Sansonnière.

by Marc Angeli

With yields kept between 30 and 35 hl/ha, whatever the climatic conditions of the year, we are sure that our grapes will mature under good conditions.

Thus, for us, the notion of vintage is no longer an issue of quality per se, but a context in which to make a wine that is different, which distinguishes itself from wines made in previous years. We even think that it is safe to say, as early as now, that the Rosé d’Anjou “Côteau du Houet” will from now on be better than previous vintages, which would not be possible if we did not practice quality control through limiting yields.

The improvement in quality will only be due to a technical choice: pure Grolleau Gris instead of a blend with Gamay and Cabernet.

You can therefore recognize a serious winemaker by counting the clusters on the vine. 5 large clusters = 8 medium-sized clusters = 12 small clusters.

Harvest Report from Clos Roche Blanche.

by Catherine Roussel

The weather is lousy here: wind and rain (almost stormy). The grapes are not ripe. Didier tested some samples of Chardonnay and Sauvignon yesterday: he found 10% alcohol and 7% acidity, we are waiting. There are spots here and there affected by rot, but it’s not a catastrophe (yet). Porcinis and black trumpets are growing like mushrooms (that’s a pleonasm). We are very much enjoying eating them but it’s a bad sign, they don’t usually appear until later in the year. My tomato plants are rotten with mildew and half of our zucchinis are rotting also. Okay, I know, you’re not interested in the vegetable garden.

Mas des Chimères avoids the rain.

Joe Dressner via Guilhem Dardé

Just got off the phone with Guilhelm Dardé, vigneron-paysan from the Mas des Chiméres.

Vineyards were not touched by the rain. They could still use some more sun though. They are starting their Merlot on Thursday and then will attack the other vineyards as they ripen.

The best areas in the Coteaux-du-Languedoc were not touched, according to Dardé.

Nouveau News from Domaine des Terres Dorées.

Joe Dressner via Jean Paul Brun

I spoke today with Jean-Paul Brun of the Domaine des Terres Dorées.

The growing season was nearly ideal until a couple of weeks ago. Yields were low and the vineyards were health and free of disease. The past two weeks have had several days of rain and there is a potential problem of rot throughout the Beaujolais, particularly in vineyards with large yields. There is simply too much water in the ground. Jean-Paul's vineyards are not yet touched by rot, but he fears that it could develop if he does not harvest at the right time. There is now a delicate balance – it is always advantageous to wait for greater maturity and alcohol, but at the same time there is the risk of rampant rot if one waits too long.

Jean-Paul will probably start picking around September 15th. He will have two workers in the vineyards doing triage as the grapes are picked. The grapes will be protected by a layer of cold gas to preserve their freshness as they are transported to the cellar.

Jean-Paul no longer does a carbonic maceration. The Domaine is equipped with a destemmer, which in a year with rot can be an enormous advantage. The destemmer eliminates much of the grey rot infested grapes and eliminates unripe or rotten stems. These stems can add a vegetal and disagreeable taste to the final wine.

As always, Jean-Paul is not sure what the harvest will look like until it actually begins. His warnings about rot are still purely conjectural. One hopes that the new two weeks bring some sun and concentration to the grapes.

And, as always, Jean-Paul’s goal is to make a natural Beaujolais. A Beaujolais with no (or little) chaptalization with natural yeasts and with juicy flavors and aromas. The vineyards, the cellar and the personnel have all been primed for this goal.