by Arianna Occhipinti
Harvest started on September 20th, 2015. Because of a hot summer, it was a long wait to get to the grapes to ripen. This led to a bit of uncertainty in some moments: we know the excess of heat does not help photosynthesis, and that plants protect themselves by closing up. This generates some delays in the ripening process but, as is usual here in Vittoria, our harvest was completed in October.
We are lucky to have had a team full of enthusiasm, as this vintage required a lot of concentration on my part. The wines, after malolactic fermentation, surprised me a lot. 15 days of maceration for the two SP68 and just over three weeks for Il Frappato and Siccagno. During the harvest, the acidity in the grape was high and the tannins present; now everything has mellowed, giving way to more balance and freshness. The white is very drinkable, and I believe this vintage that will behave well over time.
The winter was characterized by abundant rainfall. The summer started slowly and then made itself hotter with very high temperatures in July. August has been cooler, accompanied by some rainy day. A dry autumn.
SP68 Bianco, SP68 Rosso, Il Frappato, Siccagno, Grotte Alte, Passo Nero.
by Eric Nicholas.
Now that the wines are safely in the cellar, it is finally time to recap our 2015. And it's a good recap, at least for those who love our wines and/or like to hear about successful transitions, since our son Clément will be joining the estate this December!
2015 is first and foremost a calculated reaction to three consecutive vintages that were extremely low in quantity for us, resulting in serious setbacks for many of our long term-projects. Small harvests force you to put yourself into question, especially when the desire to progress and push things ever-further is still so strong. But we will always stay positive, because a peasant economy is that of patience and prudence; always anticipating the moment to bounce back. 2015 will have been that year in spite of meteorological conditions that had us worried. Here are a few preliminary, general observations:
The last few extremely low harvests led to deep reflection of our viticultural practices, and more importantly forced us to react. As you know, in viticulture you need to react fast because your entire crop can so quickly be compromised. We therefore revised our pruning choices in the 2014-2015 winter to induct a better flowering by keeping our woods longer. I can confidently say the results are already there, because we were able for the first time in a many years to harvest a reasonable 30hl/h. Considering the usual density of our juices, this gives me a better perspective for the prosperity and evolution of the estate. We will continue reflecting on this work in 2016 to bring regularity and stability to our vines.
The arrival of our son Clément will permit us to push our philosophies further. His solid education in Dijon, focusing primarily in viticulture and soil culture, will provide a seriously needed second opinion. Now let's talk about the vintage:
With our changes in pruning, it was essential that the rest of the year follow suit for the grapes to develop properly. We were lucky enough to benefit from a smooth period of flowering despite weather conditions that were less than favorable. Even the bunches picked from the vines which flowered last were quite good in quality. Not only is this quite rare, but it will also create complexity in the wines due to the larger diversity of bunches picked. Even the young vines showed two separate generations of flowering, which again will lead to more interesting wines.
As far as cryptogamic maladies (mildew, etc...), all worries ended in late June due to persistently dry weather. Our tireless dedication to working our soils meant that the vines did not suffer from the lack of water during the drought, yet were more than ready to absorb September's cooling rains.
The grapes' maturities came along regularly with no major hiccups. With a relatively abundant crop, we waited patiently for both whites and reds, young vines and old. The maturities hover around 13.5 for the reds and between 12.5 and 14.5 for the whites.
2015's grapes had very thick skins. This meant less juice (at least we thought it did), but also solid grapes that were extremely resistant to rot, so they did not buckle under the rains of September and the few showers during harvest. I've never seen anything like this here: the grapes kept their excellent sanitary state, aromatic quality and concentration until the very end. In fact, the rains that had us so worried actually ended up relaxing the vines, liberating maturities and guaranteeing larger amounts of juice.
Another reaction to our low harvests was to pick earlier and certainly with less finesse. Fortunately, acidities were strong and our less accelerated rhythm this year meant we could wait for optimal ripeness to obtain the most balanced grapes imaginable. In the end, we are extremely satisfied with our choices this year, and even more so that there were actually grapes in the vines! We'd almost forgotten what it was like...
So yes, there will be wine to sell in 2015! This has gotten us back on track to pursue our other projects, something we'd always kept our sights on. The biggest, of course, was building our new cellar, fortunately ready for action on our 21st harvest.
Entirely designed to work by gravity, we have created a cellar that frees us of the extreme physical limitations of our old one while also permitting more quality control in the many separate vinifications we do. It's almost done, as we are still working out a few final details. Photos are attached.
by Gauthier Thevenet.
2015 is a very interesting vintage!
After relatively precocious beginnings, the vines finally found balance with the arrival of the rains!
We began our harvest on October 10th to finish on the 30th.
We are extremely satisfied with our pickings: the grapes did not end up suffering from the heat wave and the balance in the juices is perfectly normal!
As always, the fermentations have started very slowly but the aromas are already quite nice in the cellar! We think 2015 will be very promising.
by Jean Manciat.
As we all know by now, 2015 was a vintage marked by extreme heat. It reminds us of 2003, though their are numerous differences.
For example, we did not experience a spring frost like in 2003, so the flowering of the grapes seemed promising. The heat was intense but started later than in 2003, starting in June. We also had some rain up until mid-May, while 2003 was already bone dry by then.
Flowering in both vintages were at a very similar time, (a little later in 2015), but the harvest dates were quite different: August 15th in 2003 and August 29th in 2015. The richness of the sugars crept up and took many of us by surprise, mainly due to rain around August 15th that got the sap flowing in the vines again followed by southern winds that lead to stong concentration. Unfortunately, the vines on the top of our parcels -where the roots don't go as deep and the earth and more rocks- suffered greatly (see photo).
The other major difference: we had a more or less normal crop for Chardonnay, while in 2003 we had a half-harvest. The degrees are superior to 2003, and vary from qualitatively high to excellent! This is yet another major difference, and more importantly a pleasant surprise, because acidities are higher than 2003 and Ph's are lower, meaning the wine will evolve with balance, a rarity in such hot vintages.
The fermentations are slow, which is a good sign. Obviously, the wines are rich, powerful and voluptuous, leading me to believe that this will prove to be a great vintage.
by François Cazin.
This year, we finished harvesting on October 2nd. Though it was a precocious vintage, we still decided to wait until September 10th to start. We began with the Sauvignons, prioritizing the parcels that suffered most from the summer's drought. Sugars were overall high in these vines, which were followed by the old vine Sauvignon and then the Chardonnay. Globally, the harvest of whites is comparable to 2014, with a more generous amount of Chardonnay compensating for the lack of Sauvignon.
Though the alcoholic potential was quite high, our fermentations went well and the first vats have developed the pretty aromas of white flowers. It was also a very nice vintage for reds, with superb grapes, particularly the Pinot Noir. We barely had to sort grapes, the yields were solid (35hl/h) and the matter is very promising.
Everything went very fast: in 10 days we brought in both the whites and the reds, in large part due to our effective team, who stayed jovial even through the bit of rain in mid September. After a few days of rest, the Romorantin was in a great place, with the anticyclone winds in the last week of September leading to favorable concentration. In exceptionally precocious conditions, we began picking the Romorantin on September 28th.
The maturities are surprising, with sugar/acidity balance rarely seen on this grape: 14 to 15° potential alcohol against 5 to 6.5 of acidity. It will be a fantastic vintage for Romorantin, both for the dry and Renaissance.
by Cécile Lemasson.
2015 was a precocious year, and we started on September 2nd, about two weeks earlier than usual.
Along with our team of harvesters, the two 2nd grade classes of the village joined us! What a beautiful team.
Even the pickers are precocious!
We picked through mostly sunshine, a little rain and voila! It was time to celebrate with a big costume party:
Looks like Darth Vader is going to be drinking Lemasson in 2016!
Once the harvesters were gone, we could relax in the cellar. Look, there's some Chardonnay this year!
To taste all of this, we will be having an open house on May 21st and 22th, 2016.
Come see us!
by Sonya Lebled
We are blessed by 2015!
After a hot and sunny Spring, we had a very hot and dry summer that peaked in July and August. By late August we were worrying about the dryness of the grapes, but received a ton of rain just at the right time: it plumped up the grapes and gave the vines the little push they needed to finish their job.
And the result was there with quality juices!
In Saint Aignan, a parcel we usually harvest over 3 days, took us 7! La Sauvignonne has finished its carbonic maceration and was pressed last week. The Ça C'est Bon! Gamay has also been pressed and the Cabernet for On Est Su'l Sable will be pressed next week. The three wines will then continue their alcoholic fermentation in fiber tanks.
In Savigny en Véron, the only thing we still need to harvest is Les Picasses, but the grapes are juicy and full of sugar. We have bottled our first Picasses, the 2013, but we will leave it to age and evolve in our cellars 2 to 3 more years before releasing it. The 2014 is still on its lees in fiberglass.
And a first for us this year: an attempt to make a Petillant Naturel!
by Louis-Benoît Desvignes.
The last of our wines are in place!
Here we go: 2015! Our father has been repeating since August 29th, our first day of picking, that we need to keep some juice in a flask, let it dry and write a postcard with it. Apparently, this is what Louis' grandfather, under similar circumstances, did in 1909. Dad was born in 1937 and says he's never seen a vintage like this: so much color, perfect grapes and a whole lot of sugar!
The first three days of harvest were under a scorching sun and required a courageous, dedicated team. A lot Spanish was being spoken, but we also had some anglophones and of course the French. We talk, laugh, drink, eat and eat some more! But all the while, they remain serious and apply care to their work.
This year they are freed from the challenges of a tough vintage; picking was fast and easy for everyone. My friend Charles, who came to help us vinify, is astonished by our harvest team. They read books after long days of labor, watch Polish films sub-titled in Italian from a screen projected on our wall. They even asked what criteria needed to be met to work for us! Friends of friends, spontaneous helpers and wine lovers all coming together...
Our three first vats started fermenting very quickly, with grapes coming in from the hot sun. We were really ready for difficult fermentations because the vintage was so hot, but this proved not to be the case. Because of of the dense nose, inky color and the early tannic profile of the wine, we decided to keep it simple and only let the juices macerate 9 to 10 days.
We ended our harvest around saucissons cooked in Morgon and an endless series of magnums from 2014, 2013, 2010, 2009, 2005, 1995... A trip through memory lane was necessary to confirm that 2015 will be a legendary vintage!
by Eric Texier, September 17th, 2015.
It's September 17th and the wines are finished, de-vatted and in their respective vessels... This would have been inconceivable 15 years ago. Whether it truly is climate change or just exceptional weather, 2015 has marked us as an unforgettable year. In the Northern Rhône, everything worked out perfectly: no sanitary issues and none of the negative impacts of a heat wave like 2003. With the exception of some black rot in Saint Julien's Grenache, everything was perfect.
There was very little rain in 2015, but just enough to relieve the vines. There was sun but also cool nights. The heat wave in no way negatively affected Chasselas picked on August 18th by our son Martin, who will continue making the bubbles on his own this year. We followed with the Roussanne on the coteau of Brézème, the old Marsanne in Saint Julien, the Clairette and old Roussanne: all of the whites were harvested before the end of August. Not only are their maturities beautiful, the acidity is unbelievable! The whites are so out of the ordinary this year that we don't even have the framework to expect what they will taste like.
The reds came into our cellar on the first week of September, all under beautiful weather and with a fantastic team. Work was efficient and festive, and reminded us why we will never machine harvest! Like the whites, the grapes were ripe but not overripe, more balanced than 2009 and without the enormous tannic structure of 2005. We performed short macerations (9-12 days) and without extraction. All the wines were de-vatted with sugars left and are slowly finishing just like the whites.
Just for fun, two micro-cuvées will see the light of day: Grenache Gris from Tom Lubbe will be made in a tinaja and some Serine from Clusel-Roch re-grafted onto Saint-Julien will produce one barrel.
A shadow on this radiant harvest: the loss of Noel Verset, this fantastic man who so inspired us! Ah, the magnum of 2002 we shared with the team our last night! Like Jules Chauvet would say, a "joli vin". But all in all, 2015 was incredible! We will do our best to transmit these emotions into the wines.
by Anne Houillon, Friday September 25th, 2015.
On this beautiful year, we start picking on Monday, September 7th to avoid bad weather and the suzukii bug!!! Beautiful harvesting conditions, everyone was in shorts and tank-tops.
For the Ploussard, we had to sort on a few parcels because of dried out grapes, but overall the rest was very high quality. And for volume, we're finally back to a normal harvest of red with 35hl/ha. Which makes us happy!
We followed up with the Chardonnay. Same deal: good quantity, good quality, beautiful weather. However, and we already knew this was coming, there wasn't much Savagnin to pick because most of it got completely burned from our very hot, dry summer.
As always, our harvest team was loyal in friendship and sympathy, providing us with countless hours of laughter and happiness! We finished on Wednesday, September 16th, going through the village making a ruckus, our tractor fully decorated (see first picture)!!! That night, we threw a big party, the Tue Chat, using Pierre's bread oven. Delicious savory tarts for everyone, and a few bottles to not get dehydrated!!!
by Marie-Pierre Iché.
Our first Syrahs arrived to cellar on September 14th with a surprise. The first parcel harvested was La Caunette, which traditionally has been the Syrah parcel that takes the longest to reach maturity. All our Syrah and Grenache is now off the vines, and we can already get a solid idea of what the rosé will taste like: cassis, english bonbons and and the fruit and freshness you'd want for a rosé.
Last Saturday, a very serious storm ravaged part of the region: 10km around Félines were struck by a savage hail storm. Fortunately, our sector was not affected. Overall, the harvest was abundant, with grapes in a perfect sanitary state. Here are a few pictures.
by Olivier de Moor, September 24th 2015.
2015, like in the rest of France, was promising to be an abundant vintage. We had a hot and overly dry summer before finally getting some rain in August. Everything was going very fast, and we set our harvest to begin on September 7th.
Then, on September 1st, around 1:30 am, 2 to 3 centimer hail stones rained from the sky along with 80mm of accompanying rain. This forced us to start picking on the 4th, quite urgently for fear of botrytis. Fortunately, the hail was followed by dry weather so this wasn't as big of an issue as it could have been. We started with the parcels the most touched by hail, then those only slightly touched and ended with the ones in good shape up until the 15th.
Surprisingly, there is actually wine in spite of the hail storm! And on top of that, the grapes were ripe, with natural degrees varying from 11,9 to 13,7.
by Francis Boulard, September 11th 2015.
On this day of September 9th, 2015, I began my 43rd harvest. To celebrate this 43rd anniversary, I've been given a promising crop! Despite regular rain over the last three weeks and the hydric stress provoked by a 2 month heatwave and drought, we have an exemplary sanitary state for picking. Honestly, these conditions had me anticipating a catastrophic scenario similar to 2011. That year, a long period of dryness was followed by heavy rains a few days before harvest, leading to a tremendous amount of botrytis that cost us 30% of our crop.
Fortunately, this year the cool nights and cold morning (with temperatures hovering around 5° C) kept the bunches in great sanitary shape and with good natural degrees superior to 10%.
Here is the panorama from the top of the Rachais:
Les Rachais's grapes were also excellent, with potentials between 10,5 – 11 % Vol. It's looking like it's going to be a great vintage.
After one week of picking under a generous, warm sun, we ended our harvest under heavy rain. 2 of those days were very tough: it was a real ordeal to cut the grapes, not to mention having to carry the last cases on slippery, muddy paths to the covered press.
Despite the rain, the natural degrees and sanitary state of the last grapes remained high in quality, though the botrytis did start catching up with the vines towards the end.
So now, we wait for the alcoholic fermentations of these new wines to better understand the qualitative potential of grapes that suffered from 2 months of dryness and abundant rain in mid-August.
by Guissepe Ferrua, September 17th, 2015
Last winter was quite warm and spring, unlike other years, began gradually without any sudden shock to the vines. This allowed all the plants at our farm (including peach, plum and pear trees) to have a harmonious, uniform and gradual blossoming. During springtime we had enough rain and the vines had no diseases. In fact, severe weather conditions never occurred during vital parts of the growing season, such as flowering. In June summer began and during July temperatures rose, leading to veraison.
The heat wave lasted almost sixty days: record high temperatures and the winds coming from the sea dehydrated the plants. Fortunately, rainfalls at the end of August reduced the drought conditions so that the vineyard could restart its vegetative cycle. The grapes finally ripened.
Just by tasting them we realized that it would be an extraordinary year: the grapes were tasty, intense and crispy with amazing skins. So we decided to start the harvest 10-15 days before the traditional harvest time. On the 31st of August we harvested the Vermentino, which this year won’t be high in alcohol but will have a good freshness and acidity. On the following days we picked the grapes from our oldest vineyard: Ciliegiolo, Canaiolo, the ones that will be in Arcipressi red. Because of the heat we had low yields but a great phenolic complexity and high quality grapes. A huge satisfaction came from the Sangiovese: an incredible year with high yields.
We finished the harvest with Trebbiano, which had very low yields but a high quality profile. We will have to wait until December to better understand how 2015 vintage develops but we have high expectations.