Louis Dressner Selections - Wine Importer

2007 Harvest Reports


Heinrich Mayr at Weingut Nusserhof

Bolzano November 14th

Last November I did a deep plowing of the soil for aeration and to break it up. Also to break up the roots on the surface. Because of this the vines were a lot calmer this year, not reacting to rain so strongly.

Due to a spring that was hot very early, the vines started the year precociously. The flowering was at the end of April. Also, the work of defoliation around the grape bunches was done in June. In this way the grapes were, from the beginning, exposed to the sun and moving air which allowed the grapes to grow better and to develop better tannins in the skin – an important thing in resisting attacks of odium, powdery mildew or gray rot. Until mid-June it was hot with little rain. This was followed by a period of variable weather, cool and rainy without creating any problems, Then at the end of August, there was new beautiful weather.

The Blatterle was picked this year on August 28th. The grapes were very beautiful, golden and, for the most part, healthy. Bees, wasps and birds diminished the yields some; the soft skins and maturity before the Lagrein, made these grapes very attractive to these pests. The grapes were harvested in little crates and quickly brought to the cellar one after the other where they were put in the press. A long press for about 6 hours gave the best extraction. After 3 weeks I racked it from the gross lees and into a cool area.

The Lagrein was harvested the 8th, 9th and 10th of September, about a month earlier than last year. One could not find a bunch with any sign of immature or shriveled grapes. I had 10 harvesters. They grapes were again harvested in small crates and brought immediately to the cellar where they were destemmed and put in stainless steel vats. It remained 3 weeks on the skins, racked and pressed. The malolactic happened right after. I am now putting it in large barrels (botti) where it will stay for 2 years.

The Teroldego (around 10hl total) and Merlot (around 3hl) were harvested right after the Lagrein. The grapes were perfect like the Lagrain. It underwent the same fermentation as the Lagrein, too.

For the first time, this year I harvested and vinified Schiava (Vernatsch) from the “Troutmann” farm – the farm where my mother was born – a few miles from my vineyard, It is on porphyry and the plants are very old (over 60 years). We worked the vines in organic viticulture. The harvest was done on the 10th and 11th of September. The yields were small (40hl/ha). Hailstorms did some damage and ultimately lowered the yields. The grapes were also very healthy. It was fermented 2 weeks on the skins, then a light pressing. The malolactic is now done and I will put it in large barrels in the underground cellar.

All the wines have a high alcohol level and acidity of moderately low levels.

Dard & Ribo Harvest Report

From René-Jean Dard, Mercurol, November 17th

We started harvesting on September 19th and finished on October 5th , only a couple of days later than usual.

The growing season was difficult, disease was rampant, but from early September through the end of picking, good weather saved the crop.

The grapes were healthy, so we did not need to do much sorting on the vines. Ripeness wasn't bad, maybe slightly lower in potential alcohol in Crozes , red and white: we didn't reach record highs this year, but everything was picked above 13 degrees potential. Our harvesting team was great.

Vinifications went quietly.

Yields were good for the whites, but in red we are 1/3 below a normal crop (we removed lots of grapes during the summer and have no regrets about doing it.)

This vintage doesn't resemble 2005 and 2006, which were highly structured, but it is still a little early to tell with certainty, there are many differences between the AOCs and their particular terroirs. On the whole, we are satisfied with the vintage.

Bernard Baudry Harvest Report

From Matthieu Baudry, Cravant-les-Coteaux, November 7th

April: sumptuous. Summer: rainy. September: happy Winemaker: overwhelmed. Winemaker: demoralized. Winemaker: reassured.

2007 could be summed up as a serialized story with multiple cliff hangers. Keep in mind that this is the year we decided to convert all our vineyards to organic viticulture, with an ambitious plan of using herbal treatments and of banning chemical products altogether.

The winter was mild, without frost. March and April were superb, with hot temperatures, dry weather and wines which started to bud 3 weeks ahead of schedule. Never seen before…. Blossoming started in the middle of May instead of during the first week of June, which is the normal time. At that point we were experiencing a best of all worlds kind of feeling.

Then May turned rainy and we had to do treatments at a hellish rate. From May 15th till the end of August, it rained every single week, and we had to be in the vines on our tractors at the same pace to contain the dreaded mildew. The first symptoms of the disease became visible in June and got worse in July. Despite our best and quickest efforts, many grapes got contaminated on our wettest terrains.

At that point, our morale was at its lowest. Our tractor drivers were exhausted, and by the middle of August, we had lost half our crop in Les Granges and in the most humid plots in the valley.

To bio or not to bio? (NT: this pun is lost in translation, bio being short for biologique, the French word for organic.)
Maybe that’s not the question, since the vines of many colleagues using conventional, chemical treatments, also suffered from mildew. We are sure that the vines environment (humidity and soil type, vigorousness of the plants) played an important part in the severity of the disease. Our “all chemical” neighbors were sometimes able to keep “clean” and “mildew-free” vines, but it had to be to the detriment of the grapes, which were bombarded with anti-mildew and anti-botrytis products.

We had to wait till the end of August for the rain to stop and for everybody to get a rest. We were quite pessimistic on the grapes capacity to ripen: from 3 weeks ahead, the crop seemed back to a normal early October start.

Then came the celebrated month of September, unsung hero of some “badly started” vintages, like 1997 or 2002. The wind turned to north-east and dried out the soils and the vines. The sun appeared and a slight wave of optimism took over. Even Bernard, anxious and disgusted, started to believe that nothing was lost.

Thanks to this superb September, we began our harvest on Sept. 26th, with a team of 45 pickers ready to cut and to sort. Even more than in previous years, we were extremely vigilant on sorting and keeping only ripe grapes with no dried out, rotten or unripe bunches. We also had 3 sorters at the entrance to the cellar, working on the conveyor belt before the grapes got into vats.

First, we noticed the low yield of 35HL/HA, due to mildew and sorting. Second, we were astonished by the levels of sugar in the grapes, from 11.7 to 13.3 of potential alcohol, despite the problems of the vintage. Third, we tasted juice that was fresh and pure. There isn’t the kind of concentration we got in 2004 and 2005, but the young wines are clean and elegant.

Now, the alcoholic fermentation is done and the malo-lactic has started. We taste the wines almost every day, and we are happy with them. The young Japanese sommelier student who was with us throughout the harvest and vinification loves the style of our wines. Bernard himself has trouble hiding behind his moustache his satisfaction and his enthusiasm for the vintage.

I must say that this style of fresh, pure wines is exactly to our taste. We must remain cautious, but it looks like 2007 is going to give wonderful surprises.

Angiolino Maule at La Biancara in Gambellara

Taken from his blog Biancara, Vicenza

July 12th
I have finished the plowing and the thinning of grape bunches (where it needed to be done). For the leaves near the grapes, we’ll wait until it cools at the end of August which seems will be early this year. It has not rained since the beginning of June and it is very hot. After 30 days of this hot wind and drought the vines have had enough. The plants have shut down and I am quite worried because this is an important moment for the vine. We need a bit of water or a change of temperature so the plants can start working again. I hope it changes; I fear another year like 2003.

August 22nd
After a summer not as hot (as expected) but dry we had a hailstorm that hit the highest hill. They were small but violent hailstones. We quickly did a treatment with magnesium silicate and already after a few days, the plants are healing themselves and, happy to say, so are we.

August 30th
11:00 -- 5 minutes of big hailstones that destroyed 70% of the production in the highest hills again (Talbane, Faldeo e Monte di Mezzo). This time we quickly did a harvest of the hail-hit grapes in Monte di Mezzo and the fallen grapes. We managed to get 15 hl of must from 1.7 HA.

September 3rd
In harvesting the grapes for the Recioto, we only managed to find a few quintali because the hail stole a lot of grapes that were irreplaceable. The choice of the grapes is accurate and attentive.

September 8th
We are harvesting the Merlot and right after the Tocai rosso and I am happy because the sugar concentrations and maturation are at optimal level. I am a little worried, however, about the fermentations of these two reds. After 25 days of skin maceration we are still finding 3-4 degrees of sugar in the fermenting musts.

September 12th
The days are staying the same with large swings in temperature between day and night. We have begun the harvest of the Sassaia. The grapes are becoming beautiful – very mature with sugar levels I have never seen on Garganega. We managed to pull in very little of the Pico grapes because these were the vines hardest hit by the hail. I hope for good fermentations in the cellar

Vito Perrini in Salento

Castellaneta October 26th

The 2007 harvest is still on, but almost done, and perhaps is the best I have ever seen!
Thanks to a dry growing season with intense sun and cool aiir. and a harvest with sunshine throughout we had great production, low yields and perfect maturation on all the grapes which have a uniform color and a smooth character.
Every grape is perfectly healthy, with great flavor, uniform color throught the bunch, persistent perfume and lots of intensity...the 2007 will be a year for the records!

Thierry Puzelat on 2007 Crop

From a Phone Conversation with Joe Dressner

I spoke with Thierry Puzelat today. He was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the crop at Clos du Tue Boeuf and at his négociant house, but bemoaned the small quantities. On the whole, they averaged a bit over 22 hectolitres/hectare in vineyards where 40 hectolitres/hectare would be a small harvest.
It was a difficult growing season in the Loire but the glorious weather in the last three weeks saved the harvest and there will be some lovely wines, Thierry told me. At the same time, it will be financially difficult for him and his brother Jean-Marie as they will not be able to break even with such a small crop.

Almost everyone I have spoken to in France the past two weeks has spoken about the small size of the 2007 harvest. This comes at a bad time for the American market. The dollar is very low, but European growers will be unable to make price concessions since they will have so little to sell and will be hurting from the small quantities available.

Joe Dressner

Salvo Foti at I Vigneri in Sicily

Randazzo October 17th

Considerations on the 2007 Harvest

The climatic progression in eastern Sicily for 2007 was an anomaly, characterized by moderate rainfall levels in the fall-winter period that were prolonged through the normal season. Morever, in June, highly unusual in Sicily, there was abundant rainfall that allowed a particularly virulent outbreak of powdery mildew that in certain cases caused very significant damage to yields (from 15 to 40% less than in 2006). The rest of the summer was drought, without rain at all. This made the vines shut down and sped up the maturation.

In my climatic zone, Lipari (Eolian Islands)-Pachino, the harvest was early by 15-20 days respective to last year. On account of the drought the harvest was drawn out through almost all of September. Relative to the quality, where there was limited or no mildew attack, we had exceptional production, better than 2006 and on a par with 2001, which I consider the best vintage in the last 7 years for eastern Sicily.

Pachino e Monte Iblei: In this part of southeastern Sicily the drought conditions made for an earlier harvest of around 15 days. In the case of the indigenous grapes (Nero d’Avola e Frappato), there was a reduction in yields of about 20% compared to the year before. The Caricante (Gulfi) was harvested at the end of August, the Nero d’Avola and Frappato in the Iblei mountains between the 15th and 20th of September and the Nero d’Avola of Pachino between the end of August and 14th of September.

The Etna Zone: On the south, east and north sides, the rains lasted into June. Then a long drought defined the summer and pretty much all of September. The vines suffered from this situation and accelerated the maturation suddenly (especially in the soils of volcanic sand), that at first seemed to be ahead by 1 month. Some intermittent rains and a summer heat at the end of September/beginning of October allowed the plants to recover some from the heavy stress of the drought and finished off the maturations 10-15 days ahead. In all parts of Etna there was a reduction of 15% production relative to last year. The quality of the grapes, for their concentration and balance of their different components, can be considered exceptional.

The Minella was harvested, in different vineyards, in the first days of September. The Chardonnay was harvested at the end of August, and the Cabernet Sauvignon at the middle of September with really good sugar/acid balance. The harvest of Nerello Cappuccio, Nerello Mascalese was between the end of September and the first days of October and the Caricante between the 10 and 17th of October.

In Monte Serra the harvest was finished in the 2nd week of September. The grapes of Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio gave excellent results.

Laurent Barth in Alsace

Bennwihr October 16th

(Reminder: Laurent Barth’s vines are part of the 150 or so HA that were devastated by a hail storm on June 15th, 2007 in the villages of Ammerschwihr, Sigolsheim, Kientzheim, Bennwihr and Kaysersberg.)

My harvest went from Sept. 12th to Oct. 6th. For me, it is a bittersweet time. In my vines, the average yield was 3HL/HA, and only one cuvee survived, the Gewürz Marckrain. All the other juices were blended together, given the ridiculously low amounts.

So I had to buy grapes, and the picking time was truly sunny and brought grapes to good ripeness. Not a given after the so-so summer we endured! The Indian Summer continues and there are lots of vendanges tardives and selections de grains nobles in the making this year.

Could this turn out to become an outstanding vintage? Maybe, given the extraordinary later season we are enjoying and the beautiful balance the wines are achieving. Maybe not, given the bad weather conditions through the summer: some yields were really high and wines from early harvesting are going to handicap the vintage as a whole.

My first impressions from the cellar are of balanced wines, with high acidity. It really paid to be patient before picking. The Rieslings are dense and fruity, maybe the most successful variety this vintage, the Pinots Gris and Gewürz are rich and concentrated. These wines require constant monitoring, because the fermentations are going quicker than usual. I have two totally different batches of Pinot Noir, and a Sylvaner that is ripe and lively.

To that one must add the grapes that were generously donated by organic winemakers to their unlucky colleagues. Some good surprises there, but it is very complicated to know how to deal with these lots, and probably I will not bottle most under my name.

This was a peculiar year, with enormous frustration and ensuing doubts. Regardless, my concern stays the same: to make real wines.

Jean-Paul Brun from Terres Dorées

Charnay-en-Beaujolais October 17th

April and September Make Vintage 2007

April determined an early harvest. In 2007, the saying “In April, do not drop a thread of clothing” did not apply, with temperatures reaching summer heights. The vines started growing extremely fast, but May was closer to the usual weather patterns and flowering occurred between May 22nd and May 26th in the crus, and around May 31st in southern Beaujolais. The whole summer was gray and difficult, we had to fight against disease ceaselessly.

September brought good ripeness. Dry, sunny weather started the last week of August, with a moderate north wind that dried out the vines and the grapes, helped the maturation and kept the bunches healthy.

We started our harvest on September 2nd in Moulin-à-Vent, followed by Côte de Brouilly, Fleurie and Morgon. We continued with the estate down South, starting on September 8th. We picked under ideal conditions to ensure high quality: not a drop of rain and moderate temperatures until September 23rd.

After devatting, the wines had good color, ripe berries aromas, these are round, easy and delicious wines.

Vintage after vintage, I try to improve my vinification techniques. My goal is to express terroir through its very noble medium, the Gamay grape. This is a difficult goal to reach when making a nouveau, because there is so little time. Burgundian vinification is the best in my view: there must be real osmosis between must and solid matter, i.e. pips and skins. Those must inform the future wine of their own character, and in turn the wine will transmit all the subtleties of the soil it comes from.

Emmanuel Houillon and Pierre Overnoy in Arbois

Pupillin October 16th

Our harvest went extremely well. September was dry and sunny, and it helped a lot to ripen the grapes. Everything is going well: the crop was high quality and the fermentations are going without any trouble. There is a good vintage in the making.

Franck Peillot in Bugey

Montagnieu October 22nd

April 2007: summer heat, with barbecues suddenly taken out of their winter quarters for long, warm nights of eating outside…. Vines are early, the winemaker is already late. Just a few days before, he was relieved to have escaped the frost!
In the first week of May, there are blossoms in the vines, even among the Altesse and Mondeuse plants, and these two are very late-ripening varieties. People said: “Count the days! Harvest 100 days after blossom, we are going to pick before August 15th, for sure! And there is a heat wave waiting for us, worse than in 2003!”

People talk, some are alarmed, others delighted: summer has arrived, well ahead of its time, and we’ll have to get used to the high temperatures. But what about the forecast pointing to a change of weather pattern around May 10th? “Don’t believe it, everything gives the same prediction, the Quatre Temps, the New Moon, Brother Benoît’s ever-reliable almanach: heat wave for all!”

Well, it looks like, this time, our old folks were totally wrong: instead of a heat wave, we ended up with 3 months of intense watering.

Of course, the vines blossomed well, before the rain, and quantity seemed adequate in the Bugey, but quality was a lot less certain.

I did not dwell on this. No sense in complaining, but it was crucial to define a work plan adapted to this particularly rainy summer. This required great attention to details and great concentration. In a difficult year like this, the number one goal was to protect the vines from disease.

Rain was frequent, followed by an occasional one or two sunny days in a row. The humidity was to be relentless all summer, delighting mushroom lovers (as early as late June) and putting fear in the souls of winemakers, dreading the terrible fungus mildew.

As in a chess game, it was a matter of moving the right pawn on the right spot, at the right time. For me, it meant picking the best treatment for each plot and using it at the best moment. In the end, I didn’t do more frequent passages this year than in any other year, and the final quality (in foliage and grapes) was excellent. Although it was hard to slalom between the drops and plan it all, I was comforted in the notion that prevention is better than cure, and I kept optimistic.

As my father Jean likes to say: “Fear doesn’t alleviate danger!” I have been a winemaker for almost 20 years now, and I am beginning to manage the notion of danger. But I do not want to be found wanting, I must do everything that is necessary.

That means more care and work in the vines, to aerate the foliage, remove all the extra shoots, prevent tangles, straighten the branches, trim them at the top, green harvest in July, all that and wearing rain gear. Thank you and bravo to all those who helped or replaced me in the vines: you believed in what had to be done, you took care of my vines as if they had been yours. Thank you Philippe and the vines team. Thank you Nathalie for always being at the cellar receiving visitors. Thank you Jean for your advice and the long discussions that led me to wise decisions.

In early August, we thought we had won the battle. No disease, healthy leaves and a good crop ahead…. If only the weather could turn sunny for a month! Not quite, not yet, but when I returned from a week off on August 15th, there was a change in the air, and from late August through Ocotber 15th, we enjoyed beautiful weather and only two days of rain.

The harvest started on Sept. 3rd with Chardonnay for sparkling Montagnieu. 10 to 11 degrees of potential alcohol is good for such wine (the champagne method adds about one degree to the final wine.) For once, acidity levels are perfect for this region.

Then we picked Pinot noir, superb-looking, above 11.5% natural alcohol with even ripeness all over.

By picking a few plots of Altesse for sparkling Montagnieu, I was able to get a better idea of this variety's behavior in this vintage: the alcohol varied from 10.5 to 10.7, which is fine for a sparkling, but meant we had to wait for the still wines.

A week later, we harvested the old-vines Altesse (9-10,000 vines/HA.) These were very ripe, and a little rot was starting. Nothing to worry about, though, just enough to remind me of Henri Goyard and his superb wines (NT: Goyard, from Domaine de Roally in Viré, was a friend and mentor to Peillot when he was still in school.)

We went back to the Altesse on treillissage (what we call “hautains” here, or high vines. My pickers really thought I had lost my mind, we were picking, but not everything. I made them leave about 4 bunches per vine, the best-looking, ripest and healthiest. Nobody had ever seen this in Montagnieu!

What crazy work…. At that point, I was not calculating the cost of this decision, but it was hard to make my team understand my point of view. And it was a gamble on more sunny weather.

We got it! On Oct. 8th, we harvested a cuvée of Altesse above 14.5 natural alcohol, and really different in character. It was worth the try.

My Mondeuse were picked earlier, and thanks to a green harvest, the ripeness was good. During maceration and fermentation, the typical peppery aromas were a joy to smell, and I think this will become a beautiful vintage.

As I write, the Altesse that were picked first are slowly, quietly finishing their fermentation. They taste well already, even before the winter cold has not clarified the wine yet.

At last I can have some rest, which is all the more appreciated after a year of hard work. With a promising vintage, maybe even an exceptional one, given the quality of fruit the whites possess, I am in top form. Cannot wait for the spring and my trip to America!

Evelyne de Pontbriand from Domaine du Closel

Savennières October 19

Our harvest is sublime. Having some mildew on the leaves (like everyone else), we decided to deal with the problem by letting the vines grow tall, with no trimming. So though it wasn’t very pretty – a bit tousled and disheveled – the grapes ripened marvelously thanks to this heaven-sent tall foliage and a beautiful sunny autumn. Not a trace of rot on the bunches.

We did two or three passes. The yields are quite small, about 25 hl/ha for the Papillon plot and 30 for the Jalousie.

Fermentation has started nicely all on its own after an easy 12-hour first racking.

We began last Monday, October 8th and will finish next Friday, October 18th.

I am delighted to be working in biodynamie.

Gianluigi Bera at Vittorio Bera & Figli in Piedmont

Canelli October 17th

A year like no one can remember, not even the oldest folks, and one would have to go back to 1805 to find something similar.

First of all, there was no winter. After the rainy harvest of 2006, there was nothing but a long, warm autumn without water or snow that then became spring with no changes. At the end of January 2007, there were days with max temperatures of 29° C (84° F). And then it continued like this: warm, sunny and, most of all, dry.

By mid-April, the vines had full shoots. The few days of rain in mid-May were followed by a new, dry heat wave that lasted until the end of June. During the first days of July, the grapes were already starting to change color! It was a dramatic drought, most of all in those which, in normal years, are our best vineyard sites. The vines heroically searched out the last drops of water buried deep in the earth, but deprived their grapes which stayed small and short on juice.

July was still hot, but with cool, dry evenings – perfect for developing the aromas. A heavy storm on the 4th of August restored the soil and the dried-out vines that had somewhat shut down but started again to allow the grapes to get bigger. On the 10th of August a few people started picking the precocious whites; by the 17th of August many were already picking the Moscato. We were still not satisfied – the drought had made the vines stingy in producing sugars. We waited until the 25th of August when most others were already finished.

We started first with the Moscato, optimal in quality but with very low yields, 40% less overall than in normal years. The potential alcohol was between 13 and 14 degrees. Four days later came an unexpected deluge of rain – over 3 inches of rain in one night! We had to wait a few days, but then the harvest restarted. The rain came too late, but carried some benefits nonetheless. We finished the 8th of September, earlier than in anyone’s memory.

Then came the Dolcetto: it was very small quantity, very good quality, but not at maximum maturation. We had to wait another 10 days: it had great body and good dry matter, but was more rustic than tame.

After that, the whites for the Arcese: absolutely perfect! Never had I seen these grapes so healty and beautifully shaped. They needed six days of maceration on the skins because it would have been a shame to press them right away.

At last, on the 14th of September, the Barbera, perhaps the grape that seems to have given the better result: powerful, smooth, great fruit and opulent, silky material. It is still fermenting after a month.

In the end, the most negative factor is the low yields. With respect to other years of record heat, 2003 for instance, the quality is much better, because the fruit was not scorched or cooked and the indigenous yeasts worked very well without problems. They will make for great drinking (We hope!) but in parsimonious portions. “Pòch, ma bon” as our old folks say! “A little, but good!”

Jean Manciat in Mâconnais

Charnay October 6th

Once again, Joe was right. He said “I know French winemakers, before the harvest they are always worried, pessimistic, it won’t be a good crop, it never stopped raining this season…. Then, after the harvest, the vintage is always good, regardless of the year.”

Well, this is it exactly this vintage, at least for those who had some patience at the end. I started my harvest on September 6th, and picked in Franclieu starting on the 10th. I did not have to chaptalize anything, because everything was around 13 degrees of natural alcohol potential, and the old vines were 14 degrees. The only exception is my new, small plot of Gamay, that reached only 12 degrees, but which for the first time has yielded something interesting.

As you know, these results came at a total surprise, and, when comparing 2006 to 2007, it won’t be “wine and water” as I feared in August.

Morale is high here.

Catherine Roussel at Clos Roche Blanche

Touraine October 9th

We finished our harvest last Friday, Oct. 5th, with the Côt grapes, and under the sun.

The results are a mixed bag: our red wines are going to be light, the Cabernet is at 11.5 degrees, the Côt at 12, the Pineau d’Aunis at 12.8, with acidity levels between 5 and 6 grams per liter, and weak yields. We have to wait for all the vats to be emptied (after maceration and fermentation, NT), but I think it will not be above 25HL/HA. There won’t be any Pif this year, no Closerie and no No. 5, since the Sauvignon yield was so low. There will be Pineau d’Aunis red and rosé, but not much of either.

In the end, this harvest was quite sluggish, maybe the grapes had a secret agreement to adopt Didier’s pace (lol)
I didn’t mind it, for the first time ever that my thighs didn’t kill me, my muscles had time to adapt progressively to the work: one day picking, 2 days of rest, etc…

Didier is delighted with his “Rolls Royce”, i.e. his pneumatic press.

Contrary to last year, there are no mushrooms, and I am beginning to feel a little bored….

Nadia Verrua at Cascina 'Tavijn in Piedmont

Scurzolengo October 6th

The harvest went well...a little unusual, because of the heat and the early harvest. We started on the 28th of August with the Ruché and we continued in a zigzag fashion until the 16th of September.

The degree of alcohol is a little high, but the wines seems to be balanced. The time on the skins is a little longer than in other years. The wine that stands out the most is the Grignolino, I find it different...

Gautier Thévenet from Domaine de Roally

Mâconnais October 5th

We just finished picking our last plots, under glorious sunshine.

We expected a very early harvest, because of April, which was so unusually sunny and warm that the blossoming went fast and early, and the vegetation was several weeks ahead of its normal stage of development.

But the summer weather was a mixed bag, with low temperatures in July and August that pushed back the beginning of the harvest. We started on 9/20/07, and the weather was great. It had turned really sunny by the end of August into all of September, and this allowed us to pick golden, healthy, ripe grapes, with potential alcohol between 13.2 and 13.9 degrees.

We had a lot of work all through the growing season, and had to intervene often and to the point to counteract the vagaries of a highly changeable weather. We ended up with high quality grapes.

This could be a vintage reminiscent of 1990 in its character, at once powerful and elegant.

Really, we are very happy with vintage 2007.

Eric Nicolas
at Domaine de Bellivière in Jasnières

Lhomme September 27th

Waiting for the Harvest:
We are preparing for the harvest, and have finished the big fall cleaning of the cellars. Early this week (Sept.24th, etc…) we were still in the vineyards to complete the task of removing leaves for optimal aeration of the grapes.

Throughout spring and summer, we had to wage an incessant battle to keep our vines healthy. To supplement the use of bouillie bordelaise (copper and sulfur mix) against mildew, we started experimenting with plant infusions, and the results are very encouraging. We noted that not only didn’t we loose any grapes, but also that the amount of leaves is more than sufficient to ensure good ripening of the grapes.

The vines are really in great health. The grapes’ skins are thick, even in our young vines, and I believe the plant infusions played a role there. This ensures good protection against rot as well as strong aromas.

September has been dry, although 10mm of rain fell in small showers, which prevented any stress for the vines and let them make sugar. The warm daytime temperatures contrast with cool nights, the maturation is going slowly and acidity levels remain high. These are perfect conditions leading to the harvest.

We are planning to start picking on Monday Oct. 1st, with potential alcohol level above 13 degrees in white and red. I have tested the ripeness level in 44 different spots.

Silvio Messana from Montesecondo in Tuscany

Cerbaia September 25th

It really looked like this harvest was going to be a difficult one. A dry and warm winter followed by a very hot spring and very little rain
were not promising a balanced maturity. The rain that came at the end of July and again in the first week of august really made a difference.

A very cool month of august helped a lot too.We started on september 10th, so quite early by our standards as we thought this vintage could give us more balanced acidity over sugar and that we would loose quality by trying to reach perfect seeds maturity.

We first harvested the new plants of sangiovese that gave a yield of 500 gr/plant as an average. We then picked the older plants. The
overall quality is outstanding, the best I have ever seen here, with balanced levels of sugar, delicious skins and not a single gr of rot.
At this point my impression is that this vintage will call for shorter macerations and could give wines with fresh fruit, good acidity levels
and a great liveliness. Sugar fermentations are going well also helped by the "tramontana" a cool northern wind which has kept our winery dry
and cool. Tomorrow is our last day of picking, we now have to see if our "forecast" will be confirmed by facts.

The picture is of Samuel Poisson, he rode his "biciclette" from Paris to come harvest at Montesecondo. He is leaving us in a few days to go
spend the winter in Greece and then bike up to Leningrad... Good Luck, Samuel !!

Catherine Roussel at Clos Roche Blanche in the Touraine

Mareuil-sur-Cher September 27th

Really, this year has been a pain from beginning to end. We thought we would be done with the harvest quickly, and it is taking for ever… at this rate we’ll be at it for Christmas!

We picked the Sauvignon blanc from Sept. 11th to Sept. 20th, under sunny weather. The grapes were healthy, with potential alcohol from 12.7 to 14 degrees and acidity levels 5.5 to 5.8 grams/liter, but a yield of 20HL/HA on average….
Picking the Gamay was more complicated. We did it from Sept. 21st to Sept. 25th, and I had to spend half of my time inside the picking container: some pickers had trouble sorting, there was rot and unripe bunches. Didier was in there when I wasn’t. But the resulting juices are clean, we were really concerned about a geosmin contamination. The yields vary from 30 to 35HL/HA, potential alcohol is between 11.5 and 11.9, acidity 5.5 g/l. This Gamay is going to be light and easy to drink.

For now we are waiting for the Pineau d’Aunis, the Cabernet and Côt to ripen. If the good weather persists (one can dream?) we hope to finish by the end of next week.

So, since Tuesday and until next Monday, I have been knitting (just kidding!)
Didier’s foot is better, he walks without a cane, but as slowly as a turtle.

Eric Texier

September 24th

We’re done in Brézème.

We will finish this week with the Mouvèdres in Châteauneuf.

The only rainy day since August 29, was last Monday and the Mistral has been blowing practically every day.

In Brézème, in just one week (Sept 10-17), the bunches lost 15% of their weight and gained 25 g/l of sugar (more than 1.5 degrees of potential alcohol).

The wind completely evaporated the excess of water that came our way in August!!!

The yields are normal and the phenolic ripeness and balance are both perfect.

The stems were ripe, so the Pergault is 100% non-destemmed.

But the nights are cool and the acidity levels of the white grapes from Châteauneuf to Condrieu are exceptional.

Obviously, this is perfect for the Opale : twice the yield as last year with perfect acidity levels and ripeness.

The situation is more difficult in the Côte Rôtie where hail at the end of May left its mark.

We can thank the Mistral which single-handedly completely reversed what in August looked like a less than wonderful situation. Pure Magic.

We will start devatting on Thursday and the sugar in the whites is almost finished.

Spring Bottlings, April/May 2007

A Report from Eric Texier

As usual, the end of winter is for us a time to bottle our wines.

We had exceptional weather in April and bottled in ideal conditions. We picked the best days to rack perfectly clarified and “happy” wines as we had constant high pressures and a North wind for three weeks.

Red Wines
Châteauneuf-du-Pape Rouge 2005

2005 is a solar vintage, and Châteauneuf-du-Pape a solar terroir. The Mourvèdre grapes (2 barrels), which usually strain to reach optimum ripeness, have in this vintage an essential play into the final balance of the wine: the result is more fruit than spice, and quite close to 2001 in structure. 8 barrels or 2240 bottles.

There are 2 barrels of old Grenache from la Crau left, to be bottled next fall or later under the label Improbable.

Brézème 2005

Global warming is a positive factor in Brézème! For the third year in a row, we enjoyed a perfect growing season, which ended in late September with really ripe Syrah at 12% natural potential alcohol. Denser than the 2004 vintage, the wine is closer to a Moulin-à-Vent than to a still Porto… 9880 bottles
The 6 barrels of our oldest “Petites Serines” will be bottled in June under the Domaine de Pergault label (around 1500 bottles and 150 magnums.)

Côte Rôtie 2005

The biggest challenge in Côte Rôtie was to avoid over ripeness and over concentration of the grapes, just like in Condrieu, given the weather conditions in 2005. The mica-schist soils of Vernay and the old age of our “Serines” made it possible, at least in part. The wine is in the same style as 1999, and we think will be pleasurable early on and not meant for long aging. 3 barrels and a half, or 1002 bottles and 12 magnums.

White wines
Mâcon Bussières Très Vieilles Vignes 2005

After a second winter spent in 2 and 3 year-old barrels, we bottled this without fining or filtering. This wine has great purity, although it is still marked by its wood aging. Its balance and minerality should ensure great aging potential. 8 barrels gave a total of 2144 bottles and 36 magnums.

Brézème Roussanne 2006

A novelty this year: in 2003, we planted 22 ares (0.22HA) with sélection massale of the old so-called “Roussettes” owned by François Pouchoulin; in 2006, these gave their first crop, tiny but eagerly expected. We blended young and old vines, half and half, and reached the record crop of 5 barrels, or 1380 bottles. The wine is lighter, less dense than in previous vintages, reminiscent of the year 2000.

The last two, and best, barrels of Old Vines will be bottled later and labeled under Domaine de Pergault (make your reservation asap.)

Châteauneuf-du-Pape blanc Vieilles Vignes 2005

Like the Bussières, this is a very mineral, tightly wound wine. Only Clairette and Bourboulenc went into the blend this year, as last year. This has tremendous aging potential, with the Clairette fruit dominating right now, but the amazing Bourboulenc juice of 2005 will show its pedigree in some time. Similar to 2000, with even more style. 4 barrels or 1160 bottles.

Condrieu Janrode 2006

It is the only Condrieu we will bottle this vintage. This extraordinary plot produced a lively and balanced wine, where the varietal character of Viognier disappears in favor of the minerality of the soil. We judged the rest of the Viognier crop, from Vernon, to be characterless and too close to the majority of modern Condrieu wines, and sold it in bulk. 2 barrels of new acacia wood or 568 bottles.

Other News in Charnay

Last summer, Eric showed us his newly rented cellar in the village of Charnay-en-Beaujolais, where he lives. Close by, he pointed at a one-hectare vineyard of Gamay which he had acquired with a group of friends/investors and that he is tending it in bio-dynamie.

Eric had formed a non-profit association to maintain this site and to prevent it from becoming available to real estate developers. Charnay is near Lyon and increasingly the vineyards are being ripped out to make way for new housing.

The site is currently in the AOC Beaujolais but the association decided to declassify to table wine and to overgraft with other grape varieties. This way, they would not compete with the Beaujolais producers in the village.

The goal is to produce delicious natural wine, available at a reasonable price to young people (of drinking age, of course) and residents of Charnay who can’t afford good wine. Eric worries that too many young people are drinking plonk, going right to hard alcohol or beer and that the wine culture is losing out. The wine from this plot will eventually be sold in plastic jugs and will hopefully bring a new generation to the joys of wine. It will not be available on the American gray market.

Overgrafting is an interesting technique. Eric writes:

“During the last week of April, we grafted over an entire hectare. The summery weather and a powerful waxing moon made the sap surge in a spectacular fashion, very beneficial to the new grafts.”

Over grafting is a technique that can jumpstart a new vineyard by replacing one varietal with another: the live vine (dormant since this is done at the very end of winter) is cut below the grafting point, leaving only the rootstock in place. A piece of cutting is grafted, i.e. inserted into or ligatured against, the wood of the rootstock.

Eric collected cuttings from his colleagues, Cabernet Franc from Elian Da Ros in the Côtes du Marmandais (South West France), Malbec from Matthieu Cosse in Cahors, and Muscat from Jean Riché in Beaumes de Venise.

Of course, Eric had a special joker to play this game. One of the last experienced grafters in France is Denis Clavel, from St-Gervais in the Côtes-du-Rhône, where for years Eric has been buying grapes for his St-Gervais Village and Old Vines Cadinnières cuvée. Given the high cost of replanting vineyards with plants from a nursery, the Clavel family has perpetuated the now largely lost art of grafting from sélection massale in their own vineyards. Denis prepares the cuttings with an old tool, a relic of the past that cannot be bought anywhere (see below).

A stick of wood is slipped into a slit directly into the rootstock (see below).

Presto, no more Gamay, but baby vines of Cabernet, Malbec or Muscat with an old, strong root system, which will not suffer from drought nor excessive rain in their first years.

Two weeks later, here’s the result:

The first harvest is scheduled for the fall of 2010.

Harvest Report:

Marc Ollivier from Domaine de la Pépière, Muscadet, on 9/8/07

The harvest hasn’t started yet! We will start on 9/14, and right now the weather is wonderful: cool nights (about 50 degrees early morning), sunny and warm days with eastern wind (around 75-78 today Saturday.) So every condition is right to keep the grapes healthy and concentrate them. I do not have any rot to worry about.

The only minus for me is that my organically-farmed vines are ripening even later. They were 12 days behind a week ago, and now I’d say only 8 or 9 days. I think the maturation was blocked by the copper I had to use early August.
All points to ideal weather conditions, which, we hope, will last till the end of September.

Acidity levels are still very high, around 7/8 grams/liter, and potential alcohol degrees of 9.5. My hope is to get around 6 grams/liter and 11 degrees when we start picking.

Fraçois Pinon in Vouvray

Vallée de Cousse September 10th

Here’s a sunny pre-harvest report: we have enjoyed 3 weeks of eastern wind since late August, cool temperatures in the morning and sunny weather all day, which is sheer happiness for our Chenin grapes after the sad, humid, cloudy summer they had to endure.

Our battle against mildew was fought almost daily, but thanks to passion and energy, we managed to keep our vines sheltered from the disease, so nefarious for foliage and bunches.

We now have a moment of calm and we can think about our harvest organization and how to deal with this very particular vintage.

We have the grapes, the weather forecasts for September are good, all we have to do is to transform this crop into a beautiful 2007 vintage.

We cannot wait for the next installment of this saga.

Catherine Roussel

from Clos Roche Blanche, Touraine, on 9/7/2007

We are going to start picking on Tuesday September 11th. Since late August, we’ve had almost totally dry weather (mushrooms have stopped growing, which is a good sign), the North wind freezes us to the bones and dries out the vines, the grapes are slowly maturing.

Didier broke a bone in his heel two weeks ago and goes around with canes, he’s almost made a habit of injuring himself this time of year! Fortunately, we have a young woman working with us right now, she’s cleaned all the tanks and done everything Didier could not do. He won’t be all healed for the harvest and will have to endure someone in the cellar to help him (that’ll teach him!)

I’ll try to keep you informed of our progress as often as possible.