Louis Dressner Selections - Wine Importer

2010 Harvest Reports


2010 Harvest Report from Yannick Pelletier.

It was an incredible year.

I've been in the area since 2002, and there has invariably been one very dry year followed by a very rainy one. This year the chain was broken; even though 2010 was particularly rainy in spring and the beginning of summer (around the 15th of June), it has been extremely dry ever since.

Let's go back to Fall 2009, which was very cool until mid November (we still had tomatoes in the garden!). The vines' leaves had fallen rather late, which further delayed pruning. There was very little rain through the winter which made me worry that the soil wouldn't have enough water reserves.

The vines started budding in early April but a cold spell slowed the growth of the first buds. Other than that, the vegetative process went off without a hitch and no illness occurred (even with heavy rainfall), so I barely had to use any treatments: a half dose of copper and three doses of powdered sulfur.

It is quite typical in the area for a large storm to brew around the 15th of August. This storm often will directly affect the harvest's quantity and quality because as you know a vine that is over stressed with too much water does not produce an optimal grape.

We've now gone two years without this storm, and perhaps in the long term this will make us reevaluate how we cultivate our vines in the region.

The rain did come, however, the day before the harvest, a little late to "plump up" most of the grapes but some of the parcels I harvest last for optimal maturity were able to take advantage of this.

The consequences of this lack of water was two-fold: the berries were small and very concentrated and that they were very healthy. No green clusters, no mildew or odium and the harvest was perfect.

We started September 9th and ended on October 7th for a total of 13 days of harvesting. The rain slowed us down for a few days and I took some days off to let my late-harvest parcels ripen to optimal maturity.

Even though the clusters and berries were small, it was a very respectable harvest for me and I reached 22 hl/ha. The alcoholic fermentation went very well even though I was quite worried since the malolactic fermentation had already started right from the beginning. There was little evolution from there and the volatile acidity remained surprisingly low.

This exact phenomenon happened to all my "natural" neighbors as well, and no one is quite sure how to explain it! We are still all waiting on the malo which is now taking its' time; this is definitely the first time this has ever happened!

Alain Renardat in the Bugey

Merignat, October 29th 2010

We harvested our grapes between Sept. 20th and Oct. 2nd, under magnificent sun. This very favorable weather during picking allowed us excellent conditions, and our grapes easily reached the ripeness we hoped for a quality vintage.

Spring growing conditions, however, were very adverse: rain and cold during the blossom resulted in coulure and millerandage, so a big loss in yields.

Fermentations are going well now. Our first release of vintage 2010 will be on January 15th. The rest of our wines, from vineyards in organic conversion, will be available at the beginning of March 2011.

Last Report From Gregoire Hubau, Moulin Pey-Labrie

Canon-Fronsac, October 25th 2010

Here we are, it’s October 15th and our last bunches have been picked. Our 2010 harvest ends under the sun, as they had started on October 12th.

Small bunches, healthy and loose, which required very little sorting at the cellar, came from the vines.

Our vats are filled with very ripe and balanced juice, with a PH of 3.4 to 3.7, total acidity of 2.8 to 3.5 and 14.5 and above of potential alcohol.

On paper and analysis, these are beautiful musts for long-lived wines.
Indigenous yeasts are slowly starting their work, in a cellar that is back to calm after the harvest. Fermentations are going at a serene and tranquil pace, we’ll taste the vats soon and celebrate the birth of vintage 2010.

Jean-Paul Labaille in Sancerre

Chavignol, October 16th 2010

I am doing this brief harvest report on the 2010 harvest a little late. I had a problem right before harvest (a fall from a ladder resulting in a dislocated shoulder and a sprained wrist) which has been a bit of a handicap for me during this period.

In terms of weather, 2010 was fairly average. After a rigorous winter, May and June were damp and the flowering was irregular and pretty late which led us to predict an early October harvest.

In contrast to the last few years, this September was quite cold which slowed down the ripening process.

I will attack the harvest on October 1st, the weather is very uncertain and this scares us – there is a clear and present danger of rot.

It rained 50 mm the weekend before the harvest and this weakened the grapes.

On Monday October 4th, an incessant rain beat down on us and forced us to send the pickers away. Tuesday was still damp but acceptable. Then on Wednesday, a miracle, the sun reappeared and saved us from despair. Disaster avoided.

We finished the harvest on Monday October 11th, happy to have saved the vintage.

2010 has turned out to be more bountiful than the very small 2009 harvest and will also be a more balanced vintage.

Later harvest years are much more characteristic of Sancerre than earlier harvest years.

2010 has good acidity (between 5.5 and 6 g) and a beautiful finesse (I think we are close to the 2002 and 1996 vintages).

The dry weather at the end of the harvest stopped the rot and we were able to bring in good quality grapes.

If the fermentations go well, the 2010 vintage will be a powerful engine to get Sancerre lovers to start overindulging again.

So this a ray of hope in a somewhat morose climate and with a vineyard dying of a disease which we cannot control (Esca) , which not only kills around 10% of our vines every year but also brings serious financial costs.

Gregoire Hubau in Bordeaux

Canon-Fronsac, October 16th 2010

After vintage 2009, it would have politically and economically correct for 2010 to be simply a ‘good vintage’ with generous yields allowing for prices in accordance with the market place. But Mother Nature decided otherwise, and an objective analysis of the growing season shows all the characteristics of a vintage among the greatest….

So, what if 2010 were superior to 2009 ?

The end of winter and beginning of spring 2010, very cold, didn’t allow the vegetation to start early. This late budburst protected the young canes from spring frost. Then there was some humidity while the temperatures climbed up from mid-April, and budburst was really homogeneous.

The weather was rather cool and humid during flowering, so many flowers did not fructify, especially on our old Merlot vines that suffer from wood disease (which is normal in Bordeaux.) Because the flowering stretched over a long while, and coulure, we lost hope for the high yields envisioned in late May by seeing numerous and large buds (and compared to the perfect flowering conditions of 2009.)

July was very favorable, with hot temperatures especially in its first two weeks, and evened the ripening discrepancies of the long flowering. Véraison (NT : changing of color that shows the start of true ripening of the bunches) came slow, especially compared with 2005, but then went quickly. We had a real draught this summer, which went crescendo from June 16th and created the current promising conditions : the berries are remarkably small, their phenolic concentration is higher than in 2009, and they have astonishing aromatic richness and acidity levels.

The small rains we had in the second half of September (10 to 45mm according to the plots) have hastened the ripening of skins, which were locally strained by the lack of rain. I’m particularly delighted that maturity has come together harmoniously, in potential alcohol and phenolic and aromatic richness. In Bordeaux, the great clay terroirs, in the Médoc notably, are surprisingly ripening earlier than their gravelly counterparts, contrary to custom : they suffered from the drought, but in a lesser way.

Maturity in 2010 is very comparable to 2009, with véraison starting only two days later. 2010 looks to be as concentrated, but with richer and fresher aromas, and more acidity. This is the profile of a great vintage, able to develop through decades thanks to its abundant, ripe tannins, aromatic complexity and fresh acidity. Our harvest is starting on October 5th for our Haut-Lariveau Merlot, followed by the Pey-Labrie vines.

Second Report from Marc Olivier in Muscadet

Maisdon-sur-Sevre, October 13th 2010

Our second week of picking, from Sept. 20th to 25th, went under a resplendescent sun. We harvested the last plots of la Pépière, Granite de Clisson and Gras Moutons. The berries got concentrated and sugar levels climbed up, all musts that week reached a potential 12.4 to 13.2% alcohol! Because of the concentrating factor, acidity levels stayed stable or even increased, between 4.8 and 5.2g/l.

On Friday Sept. 24th, after some tests, we picked our Côt and Merlot, all very ripe, 12.6% for Côt and almost 14% for Merlot. I had decided to wait for the Cabernets, which mature last, but a lot of rain between Oct. 1st and 5th ruined the party. So we picked them on Oct. 6th and 8th, still wet from the rain, with the skins beginning to crack: what my colleagues did not harvest before today all went to rot.

I hope that Anjou and Touraine did not get as much water as we did!

Fermentations are going without trouble, the first vats to be picked are almost done; the first Pépière batches are very pleasant to taste. On the other hand, Briords and Granite of Château Thébaud are tight and very hard to taste now.

Emmanuel Houillon and Pierre Overnoy in Jura

Pupillin, October 21st 2010

Our harvest went very well, under the sun, except for one morning of rain when we did not pick.

The results are good for our white varieties, alas not so great for Poulsard. The August rains did a lot of damage on these grapes, they were not fully ripe and there was rot. So we had to sort very severely, and the yields are very low.

Alessandra & Carlo Venturini in Valpolicella

Castelrotto, October 25th 2010

We are taking time out from one "demanding" harvest. This year the
weather was very cold and changeable with lots of rain and the grapes (even ours) were affected. We had to select a lot.

Fortunately the cold weather helped the grapes and the natural
fermentations which went very smoothly. There are beautiful fragrances, although the acidity is a bit compromised. We'll see.

Silvio Messana at Montesecondo in Chianti

Cerbaia, October 19th

A cool and rainy weather until late spring, then an extremely hot and dry month of July followed by a cool and rainy August brought us very fragile grapes. We started on September 16th, unusually late for us, with some anxiety because ripeness was to be caught at the right moment with no room for delays as some signs of botritis were already present, we had to work very quickly.

Results so far are surprisingly interesting, subtleness, good perfumes, good acidity and a Chianti which is showing some interesting depth. The tanks are now dry, let's wait and watch the wines evolution. The Cabernet for the Rosso del Rospo has been for the first time fermented in anforaes and will stay on the skins for a few weeks.

We had a great harvesting team with four very energetic and good spirited woofers from the US, it has been fantastic throughout the whole period, I truly believe this will positively translate into the

We also had the annual visit and "help" from the local Steiner

Eric Texier with a Preliminary Summation of the Harvest

Charnay, October 10th 2010

On Tuesday, August 31st, we’ll pick our first grapes of vintage 2010, Viognier for Opale. For this particular wine, all conditions are right for a great crop, in quantity and quality, with 11.5 of potential alcohol and 5.5g/l of acidity, this is a true Viognier from the Mosel!

The summer season has given us various frights: a stretch of super hot weather in early July was followed by severe rain storms with hail threats, a cold spell in early August left us with oïdium on the Roussanne in Brézème and a small crop for this wine. For all other grapes, we are very optimistic, but it will take another five to six weeks before everything is in.

Elisabetta Foradori in Trentino

Mezzolombardo, October 18th, 2010

Everything started with unusual anxiety, we needed to harvest quickly around 10 days earlier than usual. There was a little too much rain and there were some signs of oidium on some of the less balanced vines.

But with a little reflexion and a lot of faith in hard work we can verify that nature was right.

The teroldego ripened well, each vine with a unique character, and always more unique and the anforae helped to expres that purity and precision. Today the fermentations are finishing so we’ll begin the first rackings. It’s a wine with a lot of aromatics and unusual subtleness.

We'll see, I'm usually not one to make hasty judgments, only observe the evolution of things over time.

A very Pleasant Surprise for Gianluigi Bera

Canelli, October 14th 2010

Before beginning the harvest I was worried and a little depressed about the vintage. The season was late at every stage, August and the beginning of September were relatively cold and it looked like an overabundant crop: everything left the impression of a mediocre year and I was resigned to a petit millésime. And the talk in the region started to alarm me: ripeness levels lower than seen in many years. So, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I checked the first grape must with an old Baumè scale: 14 and ½ degrees! And, quatordzemès, as the old folks exclaim is a wonderful potential grade they think for making an undoubtedly true Moscato di Canelli. Given my assumptions and expectations, it was a small miracle. At the beginning of August when the grapes are just beginning veraison, as a rule, we stop the sulfur treatment against oidium. We did not notice, however, only a portion of the grapes on each bunch had started to mature; the remainder were still far behind because of a flowering which took place in several stages. So, many of these grapes that were still green were attacked by oidium, but, unusually, they were not cracked, making them look like sad little wood bells: it dried them but left them intact as small grained raisins. There was a kind of natural thinning: the remaining grapes could ripen to perfection, and thanks to the cool weather, conserved their given acids and aromas. The price to pay was a reduction in the overall yield, but because the crop was already so abundant compared to our normal harvests, it’s not a problem.

In summary:
The moscato is as good as it gets: added to the richness of the sugars, is a beautiful freshness and finesse in perfume, a powerful and energetic structure, but yet suavely elegant. A Moscato in “Canelli-style” like we have not seen for a while.

The dolcetto, for having a optimal ripeness level, has an acidity a little higher than usual and is a little less intense in color and richness of structure. Fearing an excess of green tannins and astringency, we did a quick maceration of only ten days. I hope for a fresh and very pleasant wine.

For the other whites, surprisingly good for the early grapes; the cortese is good, fresh, direct and mineral. We’ll see the result when blended.

With the barbera I need to say one other thing. It was also very late and in mid-September still had a lot of acidity. Because I HATE the practice of deacidification (it seems to me like rape, an unexplainable violence) the only thing to do was wait. And we waited, despite two strong downpours at the beginning of October. Finally, only for fear of the weather, we harvested beginning the 8th October. The grapes are really beautiful, great color, intact, pulpy skins, unusually so for this difficult variety. The rain has somewhat lowered the alcohol level without otherwise compromising the structure, the completeness and balance: I think in the end it will be at the level of the formidable 2001.

To finish off, therefore, it’s a great harvest and a top vintage.

Claudie and François Cazin in Cheverny

Cour-Cheverny, October 14th 2010

We are thinking of giving you news, but days are flying by and our nights are short…

Our harvest is going well, we’ll probably be done in the middle of next week. We started in great weather, then 2 days of rain wrecked our plans. Rather than pick in the rain, we went to remove leaves on several plots of Gamay and Romorantin.
This was a good idea, as it helped the bunches to enjoy the good weather that followed, sunny with a perfect Eastern wind which dried the vines and stopped any rot.

This vintage has been a bit difficult for our Pinot noir, we had to spend a lot of time sorting the grapes before putting them in the vats, and we got good results.

But it is an excellent year for our Gamay grapes, with low yields, good maturity and color, we’ll be done with this variety tomorrow and can plan macerations of two weeks at least.

As of Oct. 9th, all our Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc have been picked. A good crop for Cheverny blanc, fermentations are going quietly. We did not get excessive ripeness this year, from 11.5 to 13% on average, and acidity levels comparable to 2008.

After one day of picking Romorantin, we can say that this variety is full of promise: very ripe, a little dried-out, and we are lucky that temperatures have dipped, which protect the grapes from any oxidation. We have bought a pneumatic press this year, and it is a great improvement for Romorantin particularly.

We hope for a few more days of good weather to harvest our Romo old vines

Sonia Torretta at Cascina degli Ulivi in Piemonte

Novi Ligure, October 13th 2010

This year the harvest lasted from the 13th of September until the 2nd of October. We got the good weather we wanted because it only rained two days and we were able to focus our time. The work in the cellar is going nicely. The fermentations started quickly. The season was decidedly cooler than last year; the maturation of the grapes was gradual and complete. These cool weather nights during the maturation are now giving the fermentations very perfumed aromas and for this we are truly happy.

Unfortunately here in Piemonte the Golden Flavescence (N.T.: a phytoplasmic disease of plants carried by an insect) has struck widely, especially the red grapes and we have a lot of damage on the dolcetto with one vineyard to pull out and replant.

Also the presence of odium was pretty strong this year, because of alternating humidity and dry periods and a mostly rainy spring. The yields, therefore, are not overly big, but what remains is a good size crop. The white grapes of Cortese in particular are marvelous.

This year we also had two classes of 3A Elementary kids come to pick some grapes and to learn that to have good fruit one needs to work and strive hard. I strived to make them not run with scissors in their hand until I was hoarse, but in the end it was great fun for all.

François Pinon in Vouvray

Valèe-de-Cousse, October 16th 2010

The winter was long and colder than usual in Touraine, with snowfalls in December and January. The spring was dry and cool, with frequent Eastern wind. Flowering occurred between June 20th and 25th, the future crop was quite small. The summer was cool, the only high temperatures were in late June through mid-July. Our last treatment of the vines was done on July 15th.

In September, two rainfalls helped the grapes to ripen, with 42mm on Sept. 8th and 24mm on Sept. 24th.

We started our harvest on Tuesday Sept. 28th, picking grapes for our sparkling wines until Oct. 5th. From Oct. 5th to 8th, we harvested the grapes of the Silex noir cuvée, and continued with the cuvée Tradition cuvée from Oct. 8th to 13th. Beautiful sunny weather was back by then.

We have a large team of 22 pickers, we have to work fast because the grapes are evolving fast, due to the heat and humidity. I don’t believe that they’ll be able to take over ripening for much longer. Also, the potential alcohol levels are comfortable, around 14% these days, with lively acidity. Touches of botrytis on the grapes meant for Silex noir and Tradition promise good matter and complexity.

Back to the vines this week to pursue the harvest.

Yvonne Hegoburu in the Pyrenees

Jurançon, October 11th 2010

We are slowly getting close to our harvest.

Past Michaelmas (St. Michael’s Day, Sept. 29th), hunters get in position in their palombières (NT: dove hunting stations), awaiting the first palombes (NT: migrating doves.) Foliage is changing colors on the vines. The final grooming is done, tops are neatly cropped, leaves have been removed around the grapes, the bunches are seeing the sun, everything is ready for autumn weather. Our generous sun will perfect the color of each berry, and bring its sugar content and aromas to a maximum.

Soon, harvesters will pick the bunches for our Jurançon sec, which at Domaine de Souch includes Courbu grapes. This variety, a little neglected nowadays (NT: in favor of Petit Manseng and/or Gros Manseng), proves very important to reach finer and more complex aromatics.

Later, everything will rush on. First we’ll see fireworks of colors, as if impressionist painters had come here on vacation. Then, coming from Spain, the Autan wind, warm and dry, soft as a caress, will start its passerillage labor (NT: drying out of bunches on the vines.) Meanwhile, the skies will see flocks of thrushes, often distracted by sweet grapes, and doves in a hurry to go over the Pyrenees before cold weather settles. Then, despite the traffic jams up there, chattering cranes in impeccable V formations will announce that, where they live, it is already cold.

It’ll be the end of October, time to pick the Jurançon moëlleux. Our Tardives cuvée (NT: VT, or late harvest) will finish in December.

Early in November, through a crystal sky at daybreak, we’ll contemplate the majesty of our mountains, the Pic du Midi d’Ossau and the Pic d’Anie, topped by a discreet white cape.

There’ll be a celebration for the birth of our 2010 vintage.

Salvo Foti on Mt Etna in Sicily

Randazzo, October 12th 2010

(N.T. Starting last year, I Vigneri has refurbished an old Palmento, the ancient wine press that uses levered perpetual motion to press the fruit in a lava-stone trough. It's been illegal to use them for a number of years due to a ban by the European Union. The accompanying pictures show some of the process)

In the first few days of October the same as in every year, there is something different in the air, in the doing, in speaking, in everyday tasks, a certain excitement, trepidation. It’s the prelude to the harvest that puts everyone in a state of preoccupation mixed with joy. It is understood that the littlest thing can turn a year’s work worthless. A year that would be lost. The clouds which around here at this time are gray, full of water, pass above our noses menacing us with their usual smell. You look at them seemingly indifferent, but your eyes are watching for the warning sign to see the clouds envelope the top of the Mountain (Etna). You hope for a wind to scatter them. Ultimately nothing happens... Muntagna dici ca nu gniovi…na paura (Etna says it will not rain, don't worry) my grandfather used to say.

In the evening, around the table in the warmth of the family, we listened to our grandfather. His stories, mildly frightening for children, fascinated us. My grandfather knew a lot of stories. On one of those evenings, gathered around the fire waiting for the harvest, with an expression as if confiding a secret, or a great truth, he said, Carusi, riurdativillo sempri u vinu si fa ca racina, sulu ca racina! (Always keep in mind it’s the grapes that make a wine, only the grapes.) This never ceased to baffle me because obviously I knew that wine was made from grapes.

I spent a lot of years harvesting and this thought often returned to mind and in the age of biotechnical capacity, it seemed, ever-present. In this age of super-yeasts and super-enzymes that extract everything you find (and even some you don’t) in a grape and that promise to make a mediocre wine of supposed high quality, my grandfather’s voice speaks to me... riurdativillo sempri u vinu si fa ca racina.

The Harvest 2010 is finished.
Again this year, through the efforts of man and the help of God, we were able to harvest and make wine from our precious fruit.
The Mountain (Etna) with its strength, with its unique climate and terrain also this year gave us a real wine: not a enologist’s wine, not a winemaker’s wine, but a real wine expressing the terroir of Etna and its viticultural heritage.

We wanted, against those who impose absurd legislation, to continue producing our wine like it has been done for 2000 years on Etna with our vines in albarello (low bush training) and our Palmenti (ancient Sicilian wine presses) using only our strength, our passion, our sacrifice and only those correct innovations that respect nature.

The end result is always a unique wine with a strong personality, a child of Etna, of the traditional grape varieties of the region, of our men and women of Etna.

We want our wine, made in the volcanic stone, to pass on the force of the volcano, the minerality of its soil and the passion and humanity of its people. We want our wine to be an ETNA WINE, not just a wine made on Etna.

Franco Noussan Writes from the Valle d'Aoste

St.-Christophe, 10th October 2010

The spring arrived a little late because the cold. We had the first flowering around the 3rd of June with several rainstorms the consequence of which was some coloure (shatter) of the bunches, especially for the pinot gris. Then the weather got better with a good set for the later flowering vines like petit rouge.

July was very hot which made up in part for he late spring again specially for the more precocious pinot noir, but around the end of the month, beginning of August odium arrived, but I managed to control it well with powdered sulfur.

Finally, September arrived with ideal temperatures for our vines (hot days and cool nights) helping the grapes acquire sugar and, above all, the aromas characteristic of our mountain wines. The 16th of September we began the harvest with Pinot Gris for the Blanc de Tzanté cuvee. It was very good quality (14° alcohol, 8 gms total acidity) but limited quantitatively.

September 18th we moved on to the pinot noir (13° alcohol, 8 gms total acidity) which was in optimal condition.

Lastly, the first days of October we harvested the Cuve de la Cote (13° alcohol, 7.8 gms total acidity) (NT: a field blend of very old vines of local heritage – mayolet, cornalin, vien de nus, etc) also in optimal ripeness but especially good profume and color.

We will wait until mid-October to harvest the Torrette (petit rouge, et al.)

Virginie Maignien Reports from Gaillac

Vieux, October 6th 2010

Hello Everybody,

We are just getting our heads above water, or should I say “wine”. We have just finished harvesting. All that is left are the grapes that will go into our dessert wines and we will pick those over the next few weeks depending on the weather.

Everything went well in a sort of multicultural freedom fighter ambience with workers from the Basque Country, Brittany, Québec and Aveyron.

After three years with small yields, finally a vintage which will fill up cellars – no more sold out wines and long waiting lists.

The whites are superb and very promising. It's too early to give an opinion on the reds, we will wait a few weeks until the fermentations have finished.

A First Report from Les Vins Contés in Touraine

Candé-sur-Beauvron, October 6th 2010

Les Vins Contés moved this summer.

The old cellar in Chitenay is a thing of the past, lost at the back of the farm courtyard since 2002 and buried under heaps of old machinery.

The new cellar is in La Gardette in Fougère-sur-Bièvre.

Bigger, it is much easier to find, what a difference! It is clean and tidy and the area around it is also much neater.

The large cellar holds the vats and the barrels. There is a room for fermentation in vats, a kitchen, a workshop with a shower, another 50 square meter room to “organize” things which have no other particular place (for example that’s where we will keep our moped) and a big inner courtyard where we put the harvesters' tables.

After several cold sweats during the moving process, finally everything is ready for the beginning of the harvest on September 17th.

Day One: at Bruno Allion’s in Thésée, we picked the Sauvignon grapes at 12.5 percent potential alcohol with the sun shining.

Day Two: On Saturday, at Olivier Bellanger’s in Pouillé, the team of 30 pickers, carriers and cellar help harvested more Sauvignon at 12.5% and Gamay at 13%. Very little sorting was needed these first two days. These first grapes will go into Le Puits and le P’tit Rouquin.

The Gamay grapes picked on Monday are in excellent health, even though they had matured very quickly. Olivier, Jérémy et Jonathan, the cellar team, filled up a new vat which will become a part of the P’tit Rouquin.

The days go on, it’s very cold in the morning but the sun has stayed with us. The crates are emptied, the harvesters glasses keep filling up. There is now a real sense of being a team, lots of young people from Brittany and a handful of locals.

Wednesday, September 22: heading towards Mareuil-sur-Cher, to Bruno Ledys’ where the Gamay grapes are gorgeous, harvested at 13.5%. They will go into the Gama Sutra.

Friday was the first day we harvested in the rain, a week’s work done.

The wines are fermenting now.

Arianna Occhipinti Tells A Sad, True Story from Sicily

Vittoria, October 2nd 2010

Today is the last day of harvest. My happiness, however, ultimately turns to sadness because of one thing.

I'll tell you the story of Mr. L. Vittoria, who harvested his grapes and left them on the ground to rot because he otherwise would have been forced to sell them at € 0.10 / kg - to say the least a useless amount of money. Today I saw, with my own eyes, piles of grapes, piles of waste, piles of sadness!

This year he decided not to be fooled by anyone, neither by the big cellars nor by the entire system. But I'm sure that he thinks that after all this year's work - cultivating his vineyard, doing his duty as he has for the last 75 years - he is the one made a fool. How can you dedicate your life to something, and then be forced to throw away your work on the ground?

He has decided not to even leave the grapes on the plant; he has harvested and thrown them on the ground to rot.

This is the reality of the deep agricultural crisis in Sicily.

But I'm not ready for this. I do not want to hear more of these things, or see this kind of slaughter any more. I do not want to hear anymore that large wineries have not yet paid the farmers for last year’s harvest.

Sicily, and all you others:

Keep impoverishing our agriculture foundation, so that the young people who pay attention will abandon the countryside definitively, so that which was our main strength and represents the heart of our land, is permanently lost to history in this inevitable future!

I believe that Mr. L will no longer prune his vineyard in January. He like many others has decided to abandon it.

Gianluigi Bera Muses Before the Harvest in Piemonte

Canelli, September 11th 2010

) – if you think about it, half of your existence passes through this place and exits and flows and drips out together with every single centiliter of wine must. Better not to think about it, better to just get down with the elbow grease without looking too deep inside. The old folks speak of a magical place where “one feels oneself”, where those who unwittingly opened their eyes and saw themselves, understanding everything at that moment, were often unable to overcome the violence of this awakening. The press is one of those places.

"…e la vita la vita, si fa grande così
e comincia domani

Dove sarò domani? Dove sarò?

Dove sarò domani che ne sarà dei miei sogni infranti, dei miei piani
Dove sarò domani? Tendimi le mani, tendimi le mani !

Ma domani domani, domani lo so,
lo so che si passa il confine.
Tra le nuvole e il mare, si può fare e rifare;
con un pò di fortuna si può dimenticare...
E comincia...domani!

...and life, life, it becomes so big
and begins tomorrow

Tomorrow where will I be? Tomorrow where will I be?

Where will I be tomorrow, what will become of my broken dreams and my plans?
Where will I be tomorrow, give me our hands, give me your hands?

But tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow I know,
I know we'll go far beyond.
Between the clouds and the sea and we can do it and do it again;
with a little luck we can forget
and it begins...tomorrow!

Françoise Tête from Domaine Michel Tête in Beaujolais

Juliénas, September 20th 2010

Harvest has started at Clos du Fief.

Today we had a team of 28 to pick our Chardonnay Beaujolais-Villages White, and Gamay for our Beaujolais-Villages Rosé, and we ended with a early-ripening plot in Juliénas.

The weather is good, very cool at night (46 to 53F) and sunny during the day with 77F. These are excellent conditions to keep the grapes healthy. The potential alcohol varies between 12 and 12.5 degrees, and we hope to see it slowly going up every day of the harvest, about 12 days. The acidity looks good, around 6.5 grams, and this will ensure that vinification goes well, with color, fruit and the possibility of long macerations.

The bunches are of all types, from very large berries to small ones with millerandage (NT: berries that suffered after flowering and stay very small and concentrated), so that overall quality is good. The yield should be normal if picking conditions remain the same as they are today, from 35 ot 55HL/HA.

We already believe this is going to be a good vintage, maybe one to age a bit like 2006.

We’ll let you know more when we are done.

2nd Report from Jean Manciat

Charnay-les-Mâcon, September 29th 2010

We just finished the harvests this Monday, September 27 and now our work consists of monitoring the progress of the fermentations and doing the first assessments.

At this point, I can say that I think this will be a good vintage. The first tests show acidity levels approaching those of 2008 and percentages of potential alcohol close to those of the 2009 vintage, which were high (14° to 15°).

On the other hand, the yield was a bit smaller, I haven’t done the final count, but I hope to have an amount close to what we had last year.

2nd Report from Domaine Luneau-Papin, Muscadet

Le Landreau, Sept 23rd 2010

Here we are cutting, pressing, débourbing (separating the juice from the gross lees) and cleaning with a lot of water, all day long.
This year, we have a truly nice team of harvesters, and work is done in good spirits. The grapes are fantastic, and the first presses have good sugar content (11 to 11.5 of potential degree.) The balance is fine, there is acidity the way we like it here at the estate. It is a type of vintage with lots of promise.

The sweet sound of fermentations is audible, it will harmonize over the week-end into a choral rendition.

Alberto Tedeschi Outside Bologna in Emilia-Romagna

Zola Predosa, October 2nd 2010

The harvest has just ended in Monteveglio; it was a very difficult year. We had a lot of rain in spring and little sun in August, so we envisaged a fresh year with good quality. But then in September there were so many days of rain and low temperatures, I was very concerned about the health and maturation of the grapes. Fortunately everything went well.

Bellaria had a perfectly ripe, thanks to its excellent exposure to the sun. the rain has not caused problems, a lot of sugar and acidity.

Spungola, is a very cool vineyard, low temperatures and low summer sun has slowed the maturation which usually occurred around 10 September, but the health of the grapes was perfect so I could just wait until everything was ready for harvest. September 26th I finished the harvest.

From 2 hectares of vineyard I got about 60 hectoliters of wine, in line with previous productions. I have about 13 degrees potential alcohol and 8 g / l acidity. exactly what I set as a target.

Now all the fermenting must for wine Spungola Bellaria is in wooden barrels, except a small part that will be used for sur lie.

It was a difficult vintage but it gave me much satisfaction. the materials are the best, now only time will tell if it's a good vintage, I believe.

Jean Manciat in the Mâconnais

Charnay-les-Mâcon, September 15th 2010

Here the harvests are around the corner, after a difficult growing season: mildew, oïdium (although not on my vines), coulure, i.e. poor fruit set, hail in early July (there is no damage on Franclieu, but south of here from the town of Charnay unto Chaintré, Fuissé, Leynes and Chasselas.) Now gray rot is starting, after strong rains on last Tuesday and Wednesday (Sept. 7th and 8th) and we should not wait much longer if we want to harvest anything at all.

Anyway, even if good weather is not assured, temperatures are low, which could slow rot’s progression. We are close to the profile of 2008, although total acidity levels are lower and PH higher. There won’t be any 15 degrees potential this year! Several of my plots are close to 13 degrees, which is really good for the vintage.
I am going to start picking this Friday (Sept. 17th), rainstorms are forecast for the week-end and may augment the rot infestation.

Catherine Roussel, Vigneronne/Mushroom Monger, Hates/Loves Rain

Clos Roche Blanche, Mareuil-sur-Cher

On Sept. 9th:
Here is the latest. On Tuesday night (Sept. 7th) it started to rain and Didier said:
“It’s raining hectoliters.”
Me: “Mmm”
Didier: “Maybe on the ground…”
Me: [no comment]
In fact, we had 21mm of rain, the berries are going to swell and now we are waiting for more sun (ah, those peasants, they are never happy!!!)
Didier should know on Sunday when we start the harvest.

On Sept. 13th:
We are going to start the harvest next Thursday, Sept. 16th. The bunches are big, there are lots of them, at long last a mega big crop to look forward to, and the grapes taste good.
Story to be followed.

On Sept. 27th:
Last week we picked our Gamay (not much of it, but really beautiful bunches), then our young Pineau d’Aunis meant for l’Arpent Rouge (enormous bunches) and finished our Sauvignon blanc (the No.5 cuvée is superb.)

All these grapes were between 12 and 13 degrees of potential alcohol with 5.5 g of acidity, so Didier is very relieved.
It rained a ton the night of Thursday to Friday (23rd-24th), I did not sleep well, but this hard rain on a dry ground just rolled away, and on Friday even harvesting machines could safely go into the vines, so of course there was no problem for our pickers.
We still have to pick our Pineau d’Aunis for Rosé, our Côt and Cabernet, and if this week is not too humid, they should all be in good shape.

Yesterday I foraged a whole basket of black trumpets and about 10 Caesar’s Aminitas. Yeah! Do not tell Joe Dougherty please.
Talk to you next week.

First Report from Domaine Luneau-Papin in Muscadet

Le Landreau, September 10th 2010

We are starting the harvest on Tuesday, September 14th.
The 50 harvesters (44 pickers and 6 carriers) have been hired and the cellar is all spiffed up and ready to welcome the new juice.

This year the sun has given us nice temperatures with no excesses and this leads us to hope for good balance.

The tests that Pierre-Marie did in the vines yesterday showed reasonable acidity and sugar levels that seem to be in a good range.

The juice will probably have less sugar which will leave some room for a nice minerality.

I will be back in touch as the harvest begins.

Pre-Harvest Report from Eric Nicolas at Domaine de Bellivière

Lhomme, September 10th 2010

For several years now, the department of the Sarthe (NT: Jasnières and Coteaux-du-Loir area) has been among the driest in France. Given this climactic change, we had to react promptly and adapt our viticultural methods. We were already convinced that treatments had to be done very sparingly, and now they are down to almost nothing, which we love.

This year, we did zero treatment neither on our old vines, nor on all vineyards on the left bank of the Loir, and that represents more than one third of our vines. All the other vines saw one treatment. This is totally novel in the history of Bellivière and is the most important factor in this growing season.

We got very little rain, the flowering went fast and fructification happened under good conditions, even for the late blossoming vines which often have more troubles.

Our vines did not suffer from lack of water, there was no noticeable stress: our use of bio-dynamic methods and working the soil help the vines to surmount the vagaries of the weather. The summer temperatures weren’t too high, so our grapes should be complete and complex. We are impatient to taste the juice of untreated grapes in the cellar, and to gauge the impact of this new regimen.

We also hope that this change gave the plants another opportunity to reinforce their natural defense mechanisms. We’ll watch all these points very closely in the years to come.
Right now, ripeness is coming well, slightly ahead of its regular schedule, so we may start the harvest at the very end of September. The date will be decided after testing the grapes ripeness regularly.

The grapes already taste well, with fruit that persists in the mouth. To conclude, let’s say that, this year, each vine carries a balanced load of grapes.

Next chapter: the harvest, we’ll let you know how it goes.

Matthieu Baudry from Chinon

Cravant-les-Coteaux, September 15th 2010

It’s two weeks before we start picking.

2010 has been without climatic excesses, with well-marked seasons, just like 2009. The winter was long and cold, ideal to let the vines have a “quiet sleep.” The budburst came a bit late but under good conditions, and there was a spring frost mid-May that did not do too much damage. Spring was pleasant, but too dry: only 4.5mm of rain in April and 17mm in May!

Flowering started on June 5th, and we had rains of and on for 2 weeks, which caused coulure, so the bunches are many, but not too dense. Then it was very dry for a whole month, and there was no disease. Our number one foe, mildew, was not a problem. We did only four treatments in the valley and 3 on the slopes.

The first summer rains came around July 14th, and were welcome in the sandy plots that were suffering from the drought. This was followed by another very dry month until August 28th, when it rained 28mm. More recently, on Sept. 7th, we got a big storm, but only 26mm of rain and no damage.

So, even if we missed the rain this year, we are hoping for another dry spell until mid-October to harvest under perfect conditions.
The entire western part of France (Muscadet, Anjou, Saumur and western Touraine) had a dry growing season, the yields look to be adequate, slightly lower than in 2009 but still abundant enough.
We think we’ll start on Oct. 4th. Everything is in place for a great vintage, the grapes are evenly ripe and really healthy. Some people expect an even better vintage than 2009. We stay “zen” and, “like St. Thomas, we believe only what we can see.”

Marc Ollivier Reports from Muscadet

Maisdon-sur-Sèvre, September 19th 2010

It has already been a week since the picking started; the weather has been magnificent, a continuation of this very dry summer.

Luckily, we got 15 mm rain the week before the harvest.

Right now, the musts in the cellar are fabulous, the only minor negative being that the acidity in certain cuvees is a little low for my taste.

The sugar levels are slightly higher than last year; the average for last week’s harvest at 11.5.

The yields are pretty small, around 45 hl/ha; this due to both the lack of rain this summer and a green harvest done in July.

We have already picked half of the grapes of the 7.5 ha, including most of the Pépière cuvées, the Clos des Briords and the Granite de Château Thébaud which leaves for this week, the last Pépière plots above the village, les Gras Moutons and the Clisson.

Forecasts predict rain, especially for Thursday, Sept. 23rd. Between now and then, we should be able to get almost everything in out of harm’s way because due to the acidity levels, I have a really big team of pickers this year (45 people). This is the big difference between 2009 and 2010. In 2009, we were able to stretch out the harvest over 3 weeks and still the last musts had around 5g/l of acidity. In 2010, the first juice we brought into the cellar had the same 5g/l.

Therefore the need to harvest very quickly. Ideally, we would have already been finished but for some obscure reasons the official start of harvesting began on September 9. To compare this year with previous years, normally I would have started harvesting on the 16th or 17th (always at least a week after the official start) . The result was that some of the earliest ripening areas were harvested with less than 4g/l of acidity. With this sort of balance, Muscadet loses an important part of its essential identity. It’s almost as if there were a conspiracy on the part of the local growers union and the national agencies in charge of wine to push the evolution of the Muscadet towards a pale copy of the southern model.

Lastly I would add that these two vintages (2009 & 2010) seem to me to be almost exact copies of 1989 and 1990, and this bodes very well for the development of the 2010 vintage.

Marie-Pierre Iché of Château d' Oupia

Minervois, September 19th, 2010

We started our harvest on Sept. 2nd by picking a vine of Syrah in Oupia. The yield was moderate, the ripeness very good at 13.8 degrees potential, with intense color and tannins, but little juice.
This was the result of a strong, warm northern wind that started in mid-August and dried out the grapes. Fortunately, on Sept. 7th, we had a bit of rain and it “relaxed” the grapes and helped the tannins to mature. All the grapes are totally healthy.
The white varieties have been picked at optimal aromatic potential, the yield was comparable to previous years and the ripeness is good.
We are waiting till Sept. 21st to start picking the plots for Cuvée des Barons, Oppius and Nobilis at top maturity.
On the whole, this looks like a promising vintage, with good acidity and ripeness, but small quantities.

Francois Cazin Starts in Cheverny

Cour-Cheverny, September 20, 2010

We are talking harvest, and are getting ready to start on Thursday Sept. 23rd.

This year the season was rather dry and cool, the vines grew slowly and now the grapes are ripening slowly (but surely.)
So we have to wait, and remember that an October harvest in our region is quite normal. The grapes are healthy, our Pinot noir has to be checked closely but there is no worry for other varieties.
We’ll start with a young, early-ripening plot of Sauvignon, and the grapes meant for Crémant.
We’ll tell you more soon.

Meanwhile in Savennières

Evelyne de Jessey Rides into the Sunset September 21, 2010

We are starting harvest. One of our tractors broke.

I am waiting for a horse to help ....tomorrow. It is going to be quite an adventure.

I wanted a horse that could work and also the rest of the time carry me gently over the countryside. Not too high so that I do not need a ladder to climb on it! I probably found the perfect one....we will see.
Kind regards