by Christelle Renardat-Fâche, November 22nd, 2012
2012 is looking like a promising vintage.
We started on September 24th and the 7 days of harvest brought us beautiful grapes of extremely high quality. No grey rot whatsoever, and grapes affected by mildew fell off in August/early September or were manually removed before harvesting. We were also able to completely protect ourselves from odium, perhaps due to the newly incorporated plant preparations we used to treat the vines.
On the other hand, our yields are about 30% lower than they were in 2011. This is mainly due to climate. It all started with a period of frost in winter, then another in the Spring (each on different parcels), and a lot of rain during flowering which lead to coulure and pockets of mildew.
Also, the results of this year's experimentation with biodynamics (on 4 separate parcels, about 10% of the estate) has driven us to generalize this practice on the rest of estate as of 2013.
by Luc Michel, October 18th, 20122012 was a year where everything was turned upside down.
We had a very rainy Spring, and had to treat the vineyards more than we're used to. There was no room for error, and we got out of it with no illnesses and no damages. In the end, we successfully fought off mildew with a kilo of copper per hectare, which remains a huge quantity for us (even if the legal maximum is 5 kilos!).
A dry month of August let the vines' vegetative cycle slow down. Then 80mm in early September got things going again.
We started the harvest on the 14th. and for the first time, maturities from grape to grape and parcel to parcel were unpredictable and completely heterogenous. We had to juggle and bounce around a lot, definitely a change in our usual scenario: Alicante before Cinsault, Grenache before Syrah, very early Carignan...
In the end, we harvested beautiful grapes. As of October 18th, we are doing a décuvage and expecting an excellent vintage full of character, personality and elegance.
October 30th, 2012We started on October 8th for Roally and picked our last grape of Bongran on October 20th. Considering the climatic conditions we endured, we are very happy with this 2012 vintage.
It was wise to wait until early October to start picking, as the rain in late September made the berries quite fragile (making it easier to extract the juice during press). More importantly, the nice weather following this rain brought the grapes to maturity levels none of us thought possible! Alcohol will be between 13.8% and 15.5%. Another year where you didn't need to rush!
Our only complaint is quantity: we estimate having lost between 25 and 35% depending on parcels, but once again with a year like this one this was to be expected. In fact, we were anticipating worst! In the end, it will be a great 2012 vintage, but there won't be as much to go around as we'd like.
by Francesca Padovani, October 18th, 2012.The harvest this year was my first without my sister Margherita, which was emotional and strange at the same time. But the fruit this harvest is the fruit of not only a year, but also the history of her work of 13 years. We dedicate this harvest to her and to my little niece, Lulu, daughter of my brother, Gianmaria, born the 8th of March this year!
2012 is a year characterized in Tuscany -and especially in Montalcino- by drought. The dog days were here from the month of June until the first week of September. The first rains were at the beginning of September and were fundamental for the quality (of the fruit) and the vitality of the vineyards. Thanks to the position of the vineyard and its cool exposition, the vines were in good shape to greet September with a good yield of beautiful, nice grapes. The part of the vineyard in albarello (guyot) that grows on galestro (rounded, alluvial stones) suffered most from lack of water: the rest of the vineyards were fine. Last week we did a pre-selection of all the vineyards to make our rosé wine. The sugars are plentiful, without compromising the balance of the wine (also the PH levels are excellent!). The PH hovers around 3 and the total acidity is 8.5. We have to harvest the rest of the vineyards to make the Rosso and Brunello di Montalcino and then over to Amiata for the grapes for Biancospina and Pettirosso. The fermentations are going slowly but for now they're going well. In the cellar already is the Rosa and the base wine for the Pettirosso.
by Francesco Carfagna, October 23rd, 2012We are happy enough with 2012, even though it wasn't the easiest vintage. It was very difficult deciding when to harvest but in the the end it seems everything worked out. The wine is wonderful, albeit in lesser quantity.
It was a very, very dry year, so less quantity but excellent quality, maybe the best since we began 13 years ago. The white was harvested between August 29th and Sept 1st, and the fermentation is well on its way, the opposite of 2011 which bubbled slowly and slowly to completion.
We ended the red harvest around Oct 7th and just yesterday closed the barrel with the skins at the end of fermentation. The "Chiaretto" is still loudly singing, full of the dance of a very alive fermentation. Blu blu blu blu: nice song.
Anne Houillon on October 29th, 2012
We started our harvest on October 1st and finished the 6th at noon. We were very lucky to harvest in tank tops and shorts, since it was the only week of good weather in October. We had a great team that did a wonderful job. 2012 is a year of very low yields, but the quality of the grapes is excellent. The fermentations are going smoothly, and we are following them closely.
Here are some pictures.
October 13th, 2012
Finally, we're done with our "2" harvest... I've always heard vignerons from the South explain that vintages ending in "2" are always a total shit-show. I've experienced two of them (1992 and 2002), and they had both lived up to their reputation: impossible to harvest at optimal maturity because of torrential rains that caused memorable flooding... Everything was rotting at unprecedented rates!
So we were expecting the worst with 2012, and this manifested itself with a ravaging hail storm in Brézème on the 7th of July. In 5 minutes, a tornado of hail massacred half of the whites and a third of the reds. It was somehow not nearly as bad as it originally looked, and we have to thank the Mistral for blowing this storm away over the next few days.
Still, we attacked our harvest with with a positive attitude. Starting August 15th, a period of high heat helped heal and dry the grapes that had survived. The immediate result: the Chasselas from Saint Julien (destined for the Rouletabulle) started maturing very quickly and we had to harvest them on August 24th, early in the morning to avoid the afternoon's scorching 38°.
Next was the Muscat on the 31st. After a first try that ended slightly moelleux (25g of residual sugar) that I disgorged last year, I'm going to attempt vinifying some of it dry (and non disgorged) this year.
My lab analysis on September 4th makes it clear we're going to have to kick things into high gear: acidities are very low, the grapes taste ripe and the red's juice is starting to take color. On September 10th, we start with Saint Julien's Serines. Next up, the Brézème: first the white, then the red. The hail damage is serious: 30 to 50% of the grapes exposed west are completely dried out, so a lot of first pass sorting is necessary. We then tried eliminating a lot more grapes with a second pass on the sorting table, but quickly realized that we weren't going to get these dried out grapes off without de-stemming.
So for the first time since 2003, the Brézèmes are 100% destemmed. We kept the stems to eliminate the dry grapes (this is a lot easier once the good grapes have been removed) and reincorporated about 25% of them in the cuve. And because there was still a little bit of dry grapes left in there, I decided to cut the cuvaison time as soon as the sugars had fully fermented (between 12 and 16 days after they'd been tanked).
Once we'd actually pressed and started vinifying the wines, we were able to have an idea of the actual hail damage: we lost 50% of the Roussanes (but strangely none of the old vines) and 20% of the Syrah compared to an normal vintage. It's hard to complain when you know how much worst it was for some of our friends...
After Brézème, we returned to Saint Julien for the Grenaches and the whites. It's a miracle! Nothing dried out, nothing rotten. The harvest is copious and of good quality. Acidities are a little moderate, but low alcohol and superb maturity. These will produce easy and ready to drink wines. I even considered making a primeur for the first time in my life!
The next Monday morning, all of Brézème and Saint Julien are harvested and in the tanks! In the end, I am relieved to see how much we were actually able to harvest.
On Friday, the 21st, we all set out to Bussières. The weather is beautiful, though a bit cold in the morning. Still, I love that fresh, morning ambiance, the colors of fall surrounding us while we harvest. It's such an incredible energy, and unfortunately, every year global warming is making our harvests more and more precocious, stripping me of these moments. The grapes are fantastic and the juice is excellently balanced.
Taking a break in Charnay, we got to see our Beaujolais buddies harvesting the little bit of grapes 2012 decided to leave them. But even though the juice is rare, it's beautiful!
Wednesday the 26th: Châteauneuf. It's hot out! The Clairettes and Bourboulenc are in good shape, and we harvested them a whole 15 days later than last year. Unlike Brézème, the time lapse between flowering and harvest is normal here. The following Monday, we harvested the reds (a lot of sorting since maturities varied greatly), then we were off to Saint Joseph and Cote Rotie. Over there, no illness or hail: a lot of clean, ripe grapes with low acidity and low alcohol.
This year really reminds me of 2000, minus the low yields because of hail. It was also a vintage where I learned a lot about mildew, and I have many swiss vignerons to thank for sharing their experiences using herbal cures such as bourdaine.
I was surprised and touched by the solidarity of my fellow vignerons dealing with the elements in 2012. It makes me remember the wise advice Christian Chaussard gave me about black rot over a beer in Stockholm last May. Thank you Chocho for your bright, pertinent rationalities in this complex world of viticulture and naturally made wine.
October 18th, 2012
The grapes that survived the winter and spring frost, mildew and coulure are in the tanks, and our 2012 harvest is over!
We started with the Sauvignons on September 25th, and were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the juice: rich in sugar (superior to 13%) and good acidity. However, volume was extremely low; at 15hl/ha, we only brought in about 30% of a normal harvest.
Chardonnay will be almost ascent in the blend this year, with yields inferior to 5 hl/h. The last times we had yields this low was in 1991.
Starting October 1st, we started on the reds: 3 days with 20 harvesters covered our 8 hectares. We got in 27 hl/h yields of Pinot and a little more Gamay (which is fermenting whole cluster). For both reds, we have very good color and a lot of fruit so I'm expecting something of great quality.
At this point, we decided to break because the Romorantins weren't ready: sugar levels were good but the acidities were too high. But the weather chose not to be favorable for optimal maturity, so we called the team back on October 11th for a parcel of young vines. Then, on the 15th, we harvested our other parcels which include our very old vines. In the end, we managed to harvest 10hl/h, but it would have been worst if we'd waited longer. There will be no cuvée Renaissance 2012, as I prefer making a single, dry cuvée.
The one positive thing across the board was absence of botrytis.
Here are some photos, including a vine of GOUAIS Blanc (the only one we have!) , which is apparently the ancestor of Romorantin. This is a very delicate grape, and yet this year it was in excellent condition!
by Cécile Lemasson, October 5th, 2012
Following winter's frost, April's frost, June's rain and summer's mildew, our harvest started under a radiant sun on September 17th. We started with ripe Sauvignon. The yield: 8 hectoliters (compared to 40 last year from the exact same parcel!).
Our fears are confirmed. Every day, we're harvesting very small quantities of grapes, but at least it's nice out! Still, we struggle filling up our buckets...
And then, a good surprise with the Pineau D'Aunis! Beautiful clusters in abundance! We can hardly believe it, but we don't have enough cases! During the 40 kilometer drive from the vines to the cellar, the harvesters have already refilled their buckets. With no other choice, we had to turn to plan D, law out a big blanket in a ditch, fill it up with grapes and keep harvesting!
But that day was the exception. For the rest it's rather: really low yields and a lot of sorting… We barely have any Gamay this year, and still have to harvest the côt and chenin.
Also, every year Les Vins Contés organizes a day of harvesting with local children. This year, 50 kids from our daughter Mila's school (all 7 years old) came to help us out!
by Michel Tête, October 3rd, 2012
We started harvesting (all by hand) on September 17th and finished the 25th. The weather was nice and dry, save for a little rainfall one night.
It was a lot of hard work for the Gamay this year, because so many clusters were very small and thus hard to harvest. Yields are low this year (about 30 hl/h), but with nice maturities (12 to 14 alcohol). Acidities are nice and will assure proper maceration, so we'll have a good extraction of color and tannin.
For our white Beaujolais Villages, the harvest was more fruitful despite some odium issues (which led to heavy sorting of the grapes). The vinifications for both are going smoothly, and we're getting a lot of pleasant aromas already!
September 24th, 2012
Our harvest started on September 6th with the whites. Our newly planted Viognier was of high quality: the wine is already vinified and balanced (13%, medium acidity, round and generous). I get citrus rind, white flowers and dry apricots.
Next was the Roussanne, a new experience for us that is looking very promising.
On September 10th, the Syrah got in the mix. The skins' maturity was much more advanced than the pulp's, so the grapes came in ripe and lower in alcohol (which isn't a bad thing). On certain parcels, the heterogeneous sanitary state of the grapes led us to a very thorough sorting to assure the highest quality. The results in the cellar are more than satisfactory.
Our acquisition of a pneumatic press this year gave us the opportunity to make press rosé with the Syrah, which gives the wine a new palate, geared more towards minerality and finesse.
The reds are currently macerating. It will was a naturally tannic vintage, so we will decrease our usual maceration time. We are still waiting a little longer for the Grenache, as they have not yet reached optimal maturity. Same for the old Carignan, who need even more time.
By Catherine Roussel
SEPTEMBER 16th, 2012:
Here's my first recap of the microscopic harvest of 2012: the smallest vintage I've ever seen... And ok, I'll admit I'm not 60 yet, but I've got over 40 harvests under my belt!!!
...All that to say that there will be no Sauvignon n°2 in 2012. We were only able to gather 25 measly hectoliters, which Dider will vinify as n°5. We're waiting a week to harvest the gamays, I'll let you know what happens...
The constant rain that did so much damage in the vines this June and July is now what we're desperately missing! The few grapes that resisted against mildew have very little juice. It's depressingly beautiful out (us peasants are never happy!), which is great to dry the laundry but terrible for me since I can't go picking mushrooms. It's really a year of nothing!
...15 days after harvesting the sauvignons, we started with the gamay (Thursday, the 27th). The 33mm that fell between the 21st and 26th helped plump up the skinny berries. Yields are mediocre, but better than the Sauvignon (more juice), we'll know exact quantities when everything is in barrel.
The next day, we harvested the Pineau D'Aunis, and finally we had some fun! Our harvesters were happy to actually be picking big, plentiful berries full of juice… Alleluia! Because the grapes are very ripe and clean, Didier has decided to only make Arpent Rouge this year, so no rosé in 2012... Yields were too low to make both.
We're back to constant warm days and cold nights. We worry, because if the vines get hit with frost again, the very little bit of Côt and Cabernet left will have a really hard time ripening correctly.
I hope our team of harvesters doesn't decide to drop us. Working 2 days every 15 days isn't very motivating…
See you next time for part 3!
September 25th, 2012
Our harvest began on Monday, the 24th at 8 am. Last November, we began pruning in a winter where temperatures often fell below 0. In late January/early February, frost and snow (which is rather rare around these parts) kept the hand warmers in our pockets, and many chimney fires were burned! It was a perfect time to eat slow cooked rabbit and open some nice bottles from our vignerons friends.
Spring started early, too early according to "Mamy Jeannette" (Monique's mother, who knows the parcels like no other). But March and April quickly traded sun for rain and wind! This mediocre weather followed us into July, and as a result the vines' flowering -interrupted by constant rain- could not offer us all of its grapes.
By the end of July, the summer finally decided to show up. August was quite hot and since then warm temperatures and blue skies have been the norm. We're now getting fresh mornings, but the sky is still beautiful and the grapes love it… Us too!
The 5 weeks prior to harvest are primordial for nice maturities and richness in natural sugars. Now that we've started the harvest, we're in the thick of things and wait impatiently to taste the juices as they become wine! We're estimating alcohol to be at 12/12,5 minimum, and are waiting on certain parcels for optimal maturity. On Monday, 35 harvesters and 5 loaders were getting there hands full of grapes.
To sum up 2012, we're going to make something very good, but not in the quantities we would have liked. Be ready to cellar this vintage, since we brought in less that half of a usual harvest.
-Pierre, Monique, Pierre-Marie & Marie Luneau
September 20th, 2012
Some news from our harvest, which started yesterday. We began with a part of Clos des Briords with a bad surprise: yields are even lower than we expected… The good news is the quality of the must: 6.1 acidity 12,5% potential alcohol! This is the first time of my career that the qualitative potential has been so high on a first day of harvest!
A lot of vignerons think these acidities are too high for the start of a harvest, but we think that with juice this dense, the balance is definitely going to be good and the acidity will incorporate itself into the richness of the must.
See you soon for more details.
September 19th, 2012.
The harvest here is over and the vinifications are in full swing. This year, the wines will be tense, with a lot of acidity. This is pretty rare around here…Unfortunately, we're down a third in volume this year…
by Francis Boulard, September 19th, 2012
Finally, grapes brought into the cellar after an entire year of constant support… We suffered from frost in the spring, and this cold period also caused a lot of coulure and millerandage. The violent storms of June through July precipitated mildew, first on the leaves, then on the grapes: vines who suffered the most lost about 30% of their yield. Through hard work, we avoided odium.
Luckily we had a nice end of the season, with a dry August and September full of heat and sunshine. We're expecting nice juice and great wines as we begin the harvest.
We started in this old vine parcel in Murtet, grown in the sands of Massif Saint-Thierry. 50 year old Pinot Noir on 3309 grafts, the most precocious… The harvest is done in two passes - 2 sortings in accordance to the heterogeneity of the grapes over their 3 weeks of flowering. We started with the ripest grapes, nice black berries. We'll come back for the rosier ones in 10 days.
We're happy: our 6 passes treating the vines with only our little Honda Turbine after big storms (it was impossible to get the emjambeur tractor in there, the soils were too humid), occasionally on Sundays and even holidays, was not in vain. We were able to save the majority of the harvest, and even find some clusters untouched by mildew! OOOooooouuuFFFF… it's a relief, and we are rewarded for our efforts.
Here's Delphine making sure our strict first pass is going well.
The Chardonnays are much later in maturity that the Pinot Noirs and Meuniers, we're going to start with those next week.
That's the first NEWS 2012 from Delphine and Francis Boulard.