Nadia Verrua writes:Finally the snow fell two times this year. “Let it fall,” my father said. After a summer as hot as 2003’s, the vines needed a deep sleep.
And after the snow, the rain fell and renewed the soil from the previous year’s lengthy drought. Over the Easter period the leaves budded as in every year when this miracle of nature recurs. The vines flowered at the end of May and bloomed twice. The fruit was abundant and the weather was calm, preventing any malady to prosper, except for a little difficulty with mildew that we were able to combat with timely treatments of sulfur.
The summer was hot in the month of July, without humidity or temperatures as high as the previous year, saving us from any hailstorms in August that often occur in this critical month, and leaving the vines with plentiful foliage and the fruit to mature slowly.
In some areas of the vineyards we thinned out grape bunches not in veraison, because a so much fruit would be too much stress for the vine and full maturation could not be acheived. But the month of September was very fortunate -- the days very sunny and warm with light breezes. These alternated with very cool nights that allowed for a balanced maturation.
The harvest began in full at the end of September. We started harvesting the Ruché, then the Grignolino, and finally, in October, the Barbera. A little rain in the first days of October, did not stop the fine harvest and we carried into the cellar, along with the full harvest boxes, the hope of an excellent wine. Of course, the wine is less high degree of alcohol than last year and the acidity is slightly higher, but the balance is better between the fruit and its components. Now the wine that we created is in the cellar resting. And we are calm so that together with the vines we can enjoy the winter rest. This morning I was in the cellar with my father, the 'Tavijn" himself (transl. note: ""Tavijn" is Astigiano dialect diminutive for the name Ottavio.) to taste the wine. A red wine lively and singing fills up the glass. “Ruché!” my father said, and it made me smile.
Jean Manciat in Charnay-les-Mâcon Nov. 10th, 2004After the frost and drought of 2003, we could only expect an abundance of grapes last spring. Which is what happened, with often three grapes per twig in the Chardonnay vines.
It was hoped that maybe, given their high number, these grapes would stay small. This was not the case, especially in plots that had suffered from frost earlier.
So, perhaps good weather conditions could save us, and make us expect a repeat of fabulous vintage 1999? No, that’s not really what happened either.
In the spring, the dominant wind was from the North, so it did not rain and there was no threat of mildew. On the other hand, cool nights favored the incubation of oïdium, which showed in July and lasted until harvest.
July and August were not propitious, they respectively reached only 86% and 87% of the sun hours’ average over 30 years (statistics from 1971 to 2000 at the local weather station.) On top of this, there was more rain over these two months that the norm, and the vines with too many grapes were touched by rot. The worst climactic incident of the summer, though, was the apocalyptic thunderstorm, followed by devasting hail, which hit the Southern Mâconnais on July 20th (from Vergisson in the Pouilly-Fuissé area to Azé in the Upper Mâconnais.) There was another hailstorm around Lugny on August 22nd.
All in all, this vintage looked in trouble. Fortunately, September was dry and sunny. This was not enough to ensure a homogenous quality harvest in the whole region, because so many plots were overburdened with grapes, and others had been destroyed by hail.
For my part, I did not believe for a moment that the miracle of 1999 could return so soon. So I spent most of the summer cutting grapes where there looked to be too many, notably in about ¾ of Franclieu, old vines included. I am happy I did this work, because the lowest degree was 12 at harvesting time. I was patient and had devised a very precise picking plan. It took from September 23rd to October 4th in my Mâcon vines, then I picked in Vergisson on October 9th and 10th (St-Véran.) I got some 13 and 13.5 degrees. What a relief, it was a balancing act!
We had no rain during the harvest, which is rare when it gets so late in the season, and the temperatures were ideal, between 59 and 77. The grapes were reasonably healthy, given the year’s weather, with very little oïdium, and no rot – this as a result of leaving grass in the rows, applying precise treatments, cutting grapes and removing some leaves.)
Fermentations went well, of course they are not all finished yet for the richest wines. The wines are pleasant, they taste well right now, they are aromatic, with balanced structure and no excess of acidity (they are rounder than the 2001s.) I believe we have come back to a typical Mâconnais vintage, of honorable quality.
A vigneron’s vintage, to sum it u
Gautier Thévenet from Domaine de Roally Nov. 6th, 2004We finished picking in the Domaine de Roally vines on October 18th. We had to do several passes because ripeness was really very uneven in some plots, and this year the rain did not make the harvest easy.
That’s why it took us much longer than planned to pick. Finally, we are satisfied with the results.
Fermentations started as slowly as possible, at 14 to 16 degrees Celsius (57 to 61 Farenheit), two or three days after débourbage (separation of the “mud” at the bottom of the juice after pressing.)
To sum it up, this was a rather complicated growing season, but in the end we got good maturity, thanks to severe sorting of the grapes.
2004At long last, here is the news from our harvest.
We started on October 6th with the red grapes and finished on November 3rd, after many interruptions. 99% of our grapes are now in the cellar, most of it is fermenting, although there are still some grapes left on the vines for a late, late harvest.
The red grapes were harvested under excellent conditions, with regular ripeness of 13 to 13.5% potential alcohol, they were very fruity and in perfect health. We are about to remove from the fermenting vats and put them in barrels in our completely renovated cellar.
For the white wines, we had difficult beginnings, it was raining when we were ready to start. We had to go through the vines and get rid of rotten grapes, and we were able to pick some very ripe grapes for a few barrels. Then we waited for the grapes to concentrate in the plots where we removed the rot. We got a comfortable degree of 12.5% on average, the grapes were perfectly healthy on the left bank of the river. The grapes for the cuvées Vieilles Vignes Eparses and l’Effraie slowly went from 12.5 to 13%.
We continued with healthy grapes and some botrytis for cuvée Calligramme, above 13% on average. At the end of the harvest, degrees went above 14%, which gave the cuvées les Rosiers and l’Effraie more complexity and richness. The only drawback was that we lost a lot of crop from our younger vines, it was difficult to sort the rot on the right bank.
The crop is good in volume, which was saved at the last moment by weather conditions which were iffy but did not create problems. Also, we have bought a pneumatic Willmès press and a peristaltic pump (a pump without valves or seals that is very gentle), which allowed us to press finely and treat our crop in a better way.
We’ll be able to improve our work in coming years, based on what was done this vintage.
For the time being, the wines fermenting are frank and clean, and we hope for purity and finesse.
October 25, 2004The harvesting started on September 13th with the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes and went until October 1st. The weather was beautiful for three weeks (only one day of rain), and the grapes were able to ripen well while also maintaining a good level of acidity (5.5 g/l for the Altesse grapes). I have a bit more Altesse to pick, for my Vendanges d’Antan cuvée. Right now it’s raining a lot and it’s hot: what will the result be?
I had lots of energy this year and was thus able to try some new things in terms of vinification (small batches by plot etc...).
October 20, 2004Please forgive me for not writing my report earlier. I’ll try to catch up and will copy: “I must turn in my homework on time” a hundred times. Apparently, the carbon dioxide from the fermentations is not good for my brain.
But everything is well.
No frost, no hail, and weather conditions a lot less extreme than last year. Nevertheless, in 2004 the weather was very irregular: beautiful, warm and dry weather in June and July (actually drier than in 2003), followed by a very humid August, with persistant rains and overcast skies. September was warm, hot even in the beginning. October was variable (half fig/half grape, a French phrase describing a mixed bag), sunny at first, then a lot of rain after the 9th.
We are not complaining, because after the 11th the rain continued, it hailed and the sun could not take over.
I don’t know yet what the style of the vintage is going to be. Potential degrees are high on the whole, often higher than in 2003! Colors are more intense than last year, thanks to a healthier level of acidity. We won’t have the quasi-southern character of 2003, the wines are fresher, with more structure.
We have made some nice tasting Rosé by direct pressing of chosen plots where the grapes were very ripe.
Yields are higher than in 2002 and 2003, but not astronomical, comparable to 1999 or 2000.
Fermentations are going well and we will start removing the must from the fermentation vats and press in a week.
October 21, 2004We finished our harvest on October 15th under menacing skies, but no rain. This last week was difficult: changeable, humid ,and cold weather, no gain in ripeness. The last Sauvignon grapes we picked were diluted, we even left some vines alone where the grapes were really unripe (a far cry from the beginning of harvest.)
Our Pineau d’Aunis reached 11.5 degrees, with 5 g of acidity and 50HL/HA. Didier decided not to make any red with this…. Joe is going to be disappointed.
Cabernet: barely 12 degrees, 5g of acidity, 50HL/HA: our cellar is full. We could not wait any longer, the grapes were swollen with juice and would not have lasted another week on the vines.
We got 50HL/HA of Sauvignon blanc, it would have been higher but we had to leave many unripe or rotten bunches.
In conclusion: we had a euphoric beginning and a disappointing finish, and we’ll have to pick and choose between the different vats.
Fermentations are going well, the malolactic has started already. Didier has a lot of work in the cellar but remains serene.
Despite last week’s rain, no mushrooms are growing, and that’s not fair!
Perrini, Castellenata, Puglia October 25, 2004The 2004 harvest is very exciting.
The weather was ideal, hot (from 25 to 35 degrees celsius) and dry, without rain.
The first grapes harvested are the Primitivo and the Negroamaro grown at a vineyard near the sea where the soil is warm and fertile. In this plot the harvesting began on the 15th of August and lasted until the 30th of September.
For us the harvest is very long because we are picking from different terroirs. The grapes have different natural, optimal ripeness in the different spots and we try hard to pick at this kind of optimal maturation.
The harvest was done by hand and the grapes were (and will be) in pigeage around 30 minutes from picking. The production per hectares is kept between 50 to 65 quintali (5 to 6.5 metric ton) per hectare. The fermentations are on the skins in controlled temperature day and night for 14-16 days.
This year the grapes are just the best. They are perfumed, healthy, flavorful and have an optimal balance of antocyans (red pigments) and polyphenols (compound flavor molecules).
We remind you that Primitivo and Negroamaro have a high content of Resveratrol which is a naturally occuring antioxidant that has been shown to reduce tumor incidence in animals by affecting one or more stages of cancer development.
Catherine Roussel October 8, 2004We harvested the Gamay grapes last week: overall results: 50 hl/ha!, between 12.5 and 13 degrees of potential alcohol and 5 grams/liter of acidity. We had to sort in 2 plots (as usual), the rest was spick and span.
The Côt grapes were picked this week. We finished yesterday with the 100 year old vines. Didier was right to be worried because it rained today. The crop was very healthy, not a speck of rot. The 100 year old vines yielded an abundant crop with 12.2 degrees of potential alcohol and 5 grams/liter of acidity. The younger old vines gave us 40 hl/ha, 13.3 degrees of potential alcohol and 5 grams/liter acidity. The overall average yield was 50 hl/ha.
We haven’t finished the Sauvignon Blanc grapes yet. A first pass through all the plots gave us an average of between 12 and 12.5 degrees of potential alcohol and 5 grams/liter of acidity. We’ll have to wait for the second pass to calculate the yields.
Between the rot and the unripe grapes, there was a lot of sorting to be done. My harvesting team had a little trouble getting this, but it's working out. Didier is very satisfied with the grapes coming into the cellar.
If it continues to rain, I don’t know if the unripe grapes will reach maturity. Our goal is not to add a single gram of sugar into any cuvée.
As for the Pineau d’Aunis and the Cabernet Franc grapes, I’ll let you know in the next installment. Up until now we have been very lucky with the weather but today things are going seriously downhill.
The mushrooms are going to grow!
Alain Coudert October 5, 2004This is a generous year bearing much resemblance to 1996.
On the whole, this year was characterized by average temperatures almost exactly in keeping with the averages (- 0.2 degrees C), rainfall which exceeded the averages by 40 mm (specifically, because of the rain that fell between August 10th and 20th) and perfectly normal periods of sunshine.
Budburst on April 13th was similar to 1996 when it happened on April 17th. Then the somewhat late tendancy of the vintage was followed by the start of flowering on the same date as in 1996 (June 8th). At that stage, the vintage was 2 weeks behind 2003 and more than a week behind 2002.
Flowering lasted 8 days.
In terms of health, the excessive heat of summer 2003 disrupted some of the harmful insect populations. The absence of leaf-roller moths was the most noticeable phenomenon. In the spring, we didn’t notice any cochylis moths flying around, so no treatment was necessary. This in turn allowed some leaf-eating pests to proliferate, namely thrips, grasshoppers and some beetles, but these were easily controlled by predatory mites (“typhodromes”).
We noticed other insect or aphid predators, notably ladybugs, which were present during the whole growing season. There was a marked absence of mildew also, but localized touches of oidium, which we contained quickly. Botrytis, which was absent at the time of the closing of the bunches, developed later during the rains which fell between early and mid August.
The small yields of 2003 were followed by an overabundance of grapes in 2004. We took several measures to limit the yields, like suppressing shoots in the spring and green harvesting in July, in about half of our vines. This was beneficial, especially given the difficult weather pattern in August – the rainiest August in the last 40 years – which slowed down the ripening and caused botrytis in somes areas.
We pushed back our planned harvest date by 5 days, started on September 15th and finished on the 25th. We had to sort the grapes twice to eliminate any traces of rot, first in the vines and then again on a sorting table at the cellar. Degrees vary from 11.8 and 12.8 degrees of potential alcohol, similar to the degrees achieved in 1996, but the acidity levels are much lower than in 1996. PH levels and tartaric acid content are very satisfactory.
The juice shows intense color, an early indication that the grapes were harvested at good phenolic ripeness.
François Cazin October 4, 2004At last a normal year without any major climatic incidents in our region. An early flowering in the beginning of June and an abundance of grapes took advantage of a very nice month of July. A crop which was so good that we had to do a green harvest in a few parcels.
Then the weather went downhill in early August, the rain which we had been waiting for finally came and for a whole month, worry took the place of optimism. The harvest which originally was scheduled for mid-September was pushed back to the end of September.
But nature is unpredictable and dry weather came back in September with summer temperatures for a whole week. The persistence of this good weather gave us hope again and motivated us to push back the start of the harvest for as long as possible.
We began on September 27th with a few plots of Gamay and Pinot Noir. Today we are finishing the harvesting of the Chardonnay grapes. The sugar levels are much better than we had hoped (12 degrees of potential alcohol on average) and the grapes are of very good quality. We are pushing back the Sauvignon Blanc harvest for as long as possible. There has been quite a range of ripeness levels according to parcel this year, we will have to consider each plot on a case to case basis. In the beginning of September, we defoliated several plots to let more sun in and to keep the grapes healthier.
Sylvie Esmonin October 2, 2004After a very difficult August, the month of September did its job in style, indeed, in great style.
With small yields (thanks to a green harvest at the end of July), September provided perfect conditions for the grapes to reach an exceptional level of ripeness.
All the cuvées harvested thus far have degrees of potential alcohol between 12.5 and 13.8.
We are in the middle of harvesting the Clos St. Jacques right now. We will know more tomorrow.
The sugar levels are where they should be and that’s saying a lot.
The acidity levels are between 5.8 and 6.2 grams/liter and the PH levels are between 3.1 and 3.30.
Unexpected and comforting….now, all that’s left is vinification to see how the quality of the tannins turns out.
But I’m HAPPY.
October 1, 2004Just a few words to let you know about our preparations for the 2004 Harvest. The weather conditions in 2004 have been very favorable, giving us reason to hope for a promising vintage. Mind you, about 65% of the vines in Mâcon-Montbellet suffered serious damage from hail. But the return of sunny weather and higher temperatures kept the grapes surprisingly healthy.
The last time we checked, it seemed that we would probably begin around October 10th.
The grapes are in perfect health and are getting riper every day (it's been very sunny lately). Right now, the degrees of potential alcohol are approaching 12.5-13 degrees.
I’ll send more information once we get started with the harvest.
September 28, 2004The Cru Beaujolais are finished and they have a week left at Domaine des Terres Dorées.
I've been calling around and the general impression is: pas mal
Pas Mal is French for not bad. It was a very big harvest which required lots of rigorous selection and careful cellar work. But finally, everyone seems to feel that the results are good. Certainly, better than expected. Maybe even pas mal.
Most vignerons are not prone to superlatives. A "good" vintage usually means a great one. We'll have to see what a "not bad" vintage really means.
September 26, 2004With a few worries following the storms at the end of August, the North wind (the Mistral) was "our savior".
We started the harvest 10 days ago. The yields are abundant and the grapes are healthy with a little less potential alcohol than last year, which is not a bad thing.
We are hoping that the weather will stay nice for another 10 days and that we will finish the harvest in good conditions.
September 21, 2004I couldn’t wait until the end of the week to tell you what a great time I had picking the Chardonnay grapes yesterday: not too hot, not too cold, the sky became overcast in the afternoon but the rain waited until nightfall (only 1mm – just to moisten the leaves). Today is gorgeous, blue skies etc….
Above all though, there were lots and lots of grapes!
45h/ha: a record!– never before seen from this plot!
The results are satisfactory: 12.9 degrees of potential alcohol and 5 grams of acidity. No rot, in other words, pure joy.
The only downside was that I had to set my alarm for 6:30 AM yesterday morning and that’s not an easy thing for a sleepy marmot like me (Webmaster translation....a marmot is a mountain groundhog).
We had the time to pick one bin of Sauvignon (12.7 degrees) but the ripeness levels are so varied that we are going to have to spread out the harvesting according to plot and the quantity of grapes. I can’t give a real yield figure because we picked the grapes all over the place, here and there.
I don’t yet know if we will start up again this Thursday or next Monday. For the time being, the weather looks like it will be good for the whole week.
September 21, 2004The 2004 harvest commenced after 15 days of pure sunshine. This had come unexpected as the summer had confirmed itself as rainy. We began harvesting Wednesday, September 15th and picked the first part of the Domaine de la Pépière. Despite some slightly large yields from these young vines, the grapes showed up an interesting proportion of sugar. Here below are the natural degrees of the different cuvées harvested.
1st part of La Pépière: 11 degrees, acidity 4.8 grams
1st part of Briords: 11.6 degrees, acidity 5.1 grams
1st part of Eden: 12 degrees, acidity 4.8 grams
This is all very encouraging for what is to follow. The weather for the next week should be very mild with sunshine. The wine will be, at their natural degrees, identical to last year but with more acidity. The overall balance will certainly be better.
September 21, 2004No two years are alike.
In 2003, we had finished the harvest on September 6, the earliest date in 150 years. This year, we will start on September 24, a much more normal date for this region.
After a pretty wet summer, strong rains in July and August and a hot and dry September contributed to a well ripened and very healthy crop.
In terms of quantity, this vintage looks very good. In terms of quality, we are counting a few more days of sunny weather to increase the level of sugar in the grapes.
The Pinot Noir grapes appear to be riper than the Chardonnays; so we will start harvesting (by hand, of course) the reds first.
To be continued...