by Elodie Balme.
For us, the 2018 vintage was marked by two different impressions. On one hand, it was extremely rainy and that meant a lot of mildew pressure. This also meant working the soils was very complicated and that our windows for treatment were very short!
On the other hand, we had an exceptional September and October. And despite the mildew issues, the dryness permitted our parcels to reach optimal maturities. The wines will be more complex than 2017 and not excessive in concentration or alcohol. I'm very happy with the final results.
That's my brief impression of this complex vintage (as it always tends to be ;))
by Sophie Ilbert.
2018 can be recapped as such: a very, very rainy Spring that provoked coulure (the non fecundation of the flower) on our Malbec grape that, as we like to say here, is already quite "coulard" by nature.
Fortunately, we weren't submitted to the violent rain storms that can occur in Summer; it was a warm one and permitted the grapes to ripen. Around mid-August we had a mild storm which really helped the vines, most of which would have suffered greatly from drought (something that's becoming increasingly common here) had this rain not fallen.
The final days leading to harvest were perfect. Il was nice out but not too hot, with cool nights that were not humid. We began harvesting on September 17th with the Vermentino (very nice) and started with the Malbecs the following week with a great team of about 20 seasonal workers on September 24th. Every day, the same ritual: my father in law Jean-Pierre and our longest standing employee Alain in the vines with the harvest team, Julien, our new employee Alain and I (I've been 100% part of the estate since July) in the cellar to haul in the harvest. Every day, our team of 25 people ate a home-made lunch made by my mother in law Martine and her mother Roberte! Julien and I helped with the salads.
Harvest lasted 2 full weeks and ended on October 5th. Overall we are satisfied, averaging about 40hl/h. We still noticed that the vines planted on sectors of heavy limestone really did suffer from the heat wave.
by Matthieu Baudry.
In 2018, Winter and Spring were rather mild, with much needed rain re-stocking our dry, deficient subsoils from last year. We were also spared the frost that impacted us greatly in the last two vintages.
It was quite a reversal in late May to early July: tropical weather. Flowering was once again very precocious like in 2017, with a nice charge of future clusters. We worked vigorously and non-stop to combat mildew; in the end the illness still took out a good amount of our buds before they'd fully formed.
The rest of the summer was very warm and terribly dry. We only got 40mm of rain between July 20th and mid-September. The vines continued feeding the grapes but some nonetheless suffered from the drought, most notably in the alluvial soils.
It was another year of very early harvesting: we started with Chenin on September 12th and the first Cabernets around the 18th. The richness of the sugars is exceptional, with potentials between 13 and 14.5 paired with good tartaric acids. 2018 is an incredibly complete and expressive vintage, I'd wager it even better than the legendary years of 2005 and 2010.
The amount many of us produced will also be a breath of oxygen for the many vignerons who've suffered so greatly in 2016 and 2017. In any case, something has become evident and imposed: in the last 30 years (1988-2018), temperatures have risen by over one degree in the period of March and September. The result is that the grapes have gained 3% of alcohol and acidites have gone down to an average of 4g/L.
For us, global warming is evident: we are harvesting earlier and earlier (one to two weeks) and are regularly vinifying Cabernet Franc that clocks in above 13%. While I feel it's a positive evolution for the beauty and expression of Cabernet Franc in the Loire, it's much more preoccupying and worrisome for our planet...
by Sylvie de la Vigerie.
We had great weather the entire harvest. We began on September 20th with the Chenin over two days. On Monday the 24th, we started picking around Savigny for the rosé in order to maintain freshness. From the the 25th to the 27th we harvested the sandy soils, followed by Les Barnabés and ended in Les Peuilles and Les Picasses in early October. The bunches were well aerated and very healthy (see the attached photos.)
by Marc Ollivier.
Harvest took place from September 3rd to the 21st under a warm sun and without a drop of rain. Another year of low yields, around 30hl/ha. The alcoholic degrees were ideal in what we picked the first week, but quickly went up after that. We ended the harvest in the Gras Moutons parcel and the other Crus with potentials between 13 and 14,5!
Fortunately the acidity is still very present. This will help the wines, which will come from very concentrated grapes that are taking a long time to ferment.
by Olivier Collin.
2018 was exceptional in Champagne for numerous reasons. The vins clairs are of great purity and concentration as we were able to benefit from favorable weather in the Coteaux du Petit Morin (80mm less of rain than the Côtes des Blancs situated 15 km North-East of here.) The grapes were ripe, savory and our yields are reasonable in comparison to the averages in Champagne.
Despite taking the risk of not adding fertilizers at the beginning of 2018 in order to achieve low yields, nature was never the less generous. We therefore decided to conserve reserve wine of great quality to compensate harsher future vintages if need be. These reserve wines are aging in 18 foudres, patiently waiting for their final destination.
A new press acquired in 2019 has permitted us to gain precision in the extraction of the juices and the results are worthy of this investment. It's a major event for us because a vigneron only changes presses once in a lifetime. It's another step forward in being the most adapted to our work and philosophy of making single-parcel expressions.
We began harvesting in Les Maillon on Monday, August 27th. We were at an average potential of 11,5°. The Rosé de Saignée from this parcel was picked on August 30th. I also decided to let the grapes on a few rows ripen a little longer to produce a Coteaux Champenois from this site.
We continued harvesting under the sun with Pierrières in the village of Vert Toulan, with nice maturities around 11,2°. We followed this site with Les Enfers at 11,5° and finished in les Roises at 11,9°. There is another single parcel cuvée that I've been developing since 2015 but that's a secret.
We finished harvesting on September 13th in Les Maillons with the rows untouched on August 30th. The grapes were extremely concentrated and beginning to dry out. When we put the wine in vats to start vinifying the red, we were very surprised to see 14,7° potential, an exceptional degree in Champagne. The cuvaison lasted three weeks.
The warm weather stayed with us through September, October and November and let the woods mature well as we started pruning under the sun.
We thank nature and our harvest team, both of whom, year after year, give their best to let us pick the most beautiful grapes. Both participate in the elaboration of our Champagnes with rigor and conviviality.
by Agnès Mosse.
What a strange vintage 2018 was! The first 6 months of the year were very rainy with a bit of mildew. But in the end it was a beautiful harvest in quantity and quality, with very healthy and ripe grapes. The fermentations have proven to be very slow. Now we must be patient.
After 2 consecutive years of frost we are happy to be able to produce and offer our entire range of wines + some new ones.
2018 has been a very important year for us, both for our family and business.
We have crowned our sentimental story through our wedding in August. The party in the vineyard was great, with lots of friends, relatives and good food. With enthusiasm we dived deeper with our hands and feet "in the must" of our winery adventure.
This year we have renovated the Massimi Berucci family's historical cellar and are calling it "Cantina Berucci Montecchi"; giving continuity to the past and present. We have brought in concrete tanks, both plain and coated with fiberglass, a brand new, 10 hl Paucha barrel to host future "L'Onda" wines and a TAVA amphora. All this in addition to our old faithful wooden vats and the last but not the least squad of 54l carboys 😉(ed note: I have no idea what that means.)
The 2017-18 season has not be a good one for viticulture. In Springtime with had a late frost, fortunately with limited damage. Rain and high humidity lasted all Summer, promoting the outbreak of downey mildew that accompanied us through the season. The result has been very bad. We have lost most of the Cesanese grapes in Casalotto vineyard, whereas we the damage was limited at Mola da Piedi (the strength of the small), Colli Santi where the alberello vines are planted in a way that helps against fungal diseases, and Sterparo Lungo, Paliano, which has a good exposition of the "sunny side". In the end, the harvest of Cesanese di Affile grapes has not been great, whereas the Passerina del Frusinate one has been satisfying.
At the arrival of the grapes in the winery we used dry ice (CO2) to prevent oxidative processes in the grapes. The result of using plain concrete tanks has been great: spontaneous fermentation started in 24 hours and finished in 10 days time, with a regular trend in sugar degradation and constant temperatures. Passerina was left macerate on its skins for 36 hours, then pressed and left to ferment inside a concrete tank. Cesanese grapes were handled in different ways according to their final destination. Mola da Piedi were crushed whole-cluster by foot by Maria and Geminiano, then left to ferment in wooden vats and amphora, with aging in amphora and 54t carboys. The Rosso has followed both fermentation and aging inside concrete tank.
Because of this challenging vintage, this year there will be no L'Onda 2018. We are going to make a blend with part of the wine for L'Onda 2017, a super wine, in order to increase the Rosso according to our commercial needs and to ameliorate its organoleptic properties.
In spite of the bad season, we have tried micro-vinifications on white grapes from the Mola da Piedi vineyard. We pressed them at whole cluster, then fermentation and aging inside 54t carboys, "a little poetry" of wine 😊
As a matter of fact, we have behaved as wine artisans. We have guarded and defended our vineyards so that they could produce as best they could. The application of homeopathic remedies helped us not to rustle with excessive doses of copper and sulfur, using them when and where necessary in little quantities.
We have made grapes into wine with attention, respect and passion, without adding any commercial yeast, sulfite or other adjuvants. We have decanted the wine following the moon calendar and so on according to our ethic: "If the process is good the result will be the same".
Here are some photos from our 2018 harvest. 3 weeks under the sun. 60 people harvesting in the vines. We hadn't seen such a beautiful crop since 2005. We had to be extremely precise with the harvesting dates, same with with vinification to make sure the wines had energy and brightness. After 10 consecutive years of tough vintages, 2018 was a gift from God!
by Paola and Ivano, October 31st 2018.
Before the harvest, there is always a moment suspended in time, as if we are holding our breath, a kind of anxiety. The gift of nature is always different, and the continued commitment leads to us eagerly awaiting its bounty. How will we remember this year? What will the wine be like?
We had balanced spring days, no frosts and these conditions allowed a good flowering. Early in summer there were fresh days alternating with cold, rainy periods and lukewarm ones.
In the middle of summer there were high temperatures that however have never caused suffering to the vines. On the contrary they accompanied the grapes to a regular ripening.
This vines flourished and were perhaps too vigorous: in fact we intervened to contain the plants and maintain that production not be excessive. In the hills, the dropping temperatures in the night during the last month before the harvest contributed to the exaltation of the grape's aromas.
We are happy. It's a good vintage, ripe and healthy grapes. Wow, wonderful, what a gift, the cellar smells amazing!
by Alain Girard, January 2nd 2019.
Our year in the vines:
It was a morose winter with a timid sun and abundant rain. After a drenched December, January beat all records with almost double the usual rain fall in this period. February was very cold, with an abnormal drop on the 26th to the 28th. March was quite cool, bordering on cold. Then April was abnormally warm. Such temperatures proved ideal for the budding of the vines which took place around mid-April.
These record breaking temperatures precipitated the vegetation's evolution: growth was dynamic and the phenological stages followed each other in quick succession. Starting mid-April, temperatures started to plummet. The painful memories of 2016 and 2017's April frosts prepared us for the worst. But we would see no frost 2018; a critical stage of the year had been passed.
May was on the warmer and humid side, though this fluctuated dramatically throughout the month. The result: phases of accelerated growth of the shoots followed by a slowdown. We also started to get more rain around this time. With the humidity this made the vines vulnerable to mildew. We began treating the vines to combat it in late May and had to stay active and vigilant through June, sometimes unable to do so due to the weather.
Flowering began in the first days of June under good weather: the rain stopped right when we needed it to. Flowering was very quick, making us understand early on that 2018 will be a precocious vintage. Starting mid-June, temperatures start rising dramatically: hot with the occasional heat-wave. A new season is officially upon us. June and July prove to be exceptionally hot.
The grapes maturation took place under significant heat. The water reserves from the winter's rain permitted this period to go smoothly, save a few sectors that drain rapidly or where the vines' roots cannot dive very deep into the mother rock. In the end, the rain we were cursing in May ended up being beneficial.
Still, the extreme heat did degrade malic acid in the grapes. This will also guarantee a lack of any vegetal aromas or flavors. Sugars, on the other hand, progressed at a good rhythm. We can already see what the wines are going to end up like.
A nice September kept the qualitative potential of the harvest intact. It permitted us to wait for optimal maturity in each parcel. Though the harvest was announced as precocious, we began on September 10th. It remained sunny throughout.
Our First Impressions of the Wine:
The whites are still a bit timid. Notes of pear and mandarine are clearly distinguishable. On the palate, the wine is subtle and bright, oscillating between roundness and freshness. The aromatic precision is there. The texture still needs to find its way but the current state is very promising.
by Christelle Renardat, October 4th 2018.
We harvested from September 10th to the 24th. 12 days under a scorching sun that nonetheless promised us a good crop.
2018 is another tumultuous year climatically. The first half of the year was marked by constant rain followed by very hot weather and a drought. A hail storm on the 20th of July damaged a part of our estate. Of our 12 hectares, five are touched and two are decimated at 90%. Morale is low, especially following the particularly drastic 2017.
In Spring, the amount of grapes on the vines was impressive, to the point where we entertained the possibility of a green harvest! But with the drought and the hail, we had to change strategies.
We began on September 10th and from the beginning we are very surprised by the yields. Against all odds and expectations, we are happy to report that we actually had a plentiful harvest with grapes of great quality. Unbelievable!
by François Cazin, November 25th 2018.
2018 was the vintage we all were waiting for: a plentiful harvest with good quality.
No climate problems despite a very humid spring and and a very dry summer. Flowering was smooth, though we had to be very vigilant with mildew. August to October was perfect, leading to optimal maturities. I'd go as far as saying these are some of the best maturities I've witnessed.
Our harvest took place over the course of five weeks, from September 10th to mid-October. We had to pick the Sauvignon and Chardonnay quickly to avoid sugar levels getting too high. It will be a very rich vintage for the whites, but the young vines will bring a bit of much needed freshness.
It's a superb vintage for the reds, with homogenous maturities for the Pinot and Gamay. Yields were generous but not excessive, between 30 to 50 hl/ha. The wines will show a nice roundness but also power.
The first Romorantins were picked on October 2nd. Despite very high sugar levels (14°/15°) the acidity will stabilize it and we expect a balanced result after the fermentations.
by Julien Pinon, November 19th 2018.
It is an amazing year, a crazy vintage!
In our estate, the grapes were really great and we have yields of 53 hectoliters per hectare, which is a lot for us. We are very happy. We began the 17th of September, two weeks earlier than usual. Harvest lasted almost four weeks, with one late harvest on October 25th.
Normally we make 3 passes of the grapes: one in the parcel by the pickers, one over a sorting table and a last one before the press on a conveyor belt. This year everything was so good we used everything.
The wines are going to have a lot of residual sugar but won't have a lot of acidity because of the draught. For now, the fermentations are good. This year, we made all our cuvées (sec, demi-sec, moelleux, sparkling) and with good quantities.
The whole country has known a great September and lots of winemakers are very happy. In Vouvray -after five years of climactic disasters- the harvest is terrific. The grapes were very good, very ripe and very healthy; no bad mold at all. The were also a lot of grapes, so great quality and quantity.
In the Loire valley, the Spring was very rainy, with a lot of mildew. Because of this, we have lost about 15 % of the harvest. Fortunately, the summer was beautiful. In September, the wind has turned East, which is like miracle. Normally the wind comes from the West (the ocean) and carries humidity. But with the eastern wind from the continent, the air is dry. Therefore there was no mold, no botrytis but a lot of shrivelled grapes (passerillage), which is rarer here.
A lot of old winemakers say that the 2018 should be at the same level as the 1989...
by Jean Manciat, November 3rd 2018.
The 2018 harvest was a smooth one, taking place under a hot sun as I'm sure was the case in many parts of France.
In June we got rain every afternoon for a week followed by tropical heat in the morning. The consequence was an explosion of mildew, which this year was fairly easy to cope with as the crop was very generous. Starting in July, it was the exact opposite: terribly dry for months. We were very lucky to get some rain around the 15th of August, permitting a favorable maturation of the grapes. Still, it wasn't enough for the vines on the top of the côteaux where the soils are deeper.
The result: maturations were very heterogeneous and some sections weren't progressing at all. The harsh sun made acidities drop, notably due to the degradation of malic acid. We started our first day of harvest on September 1st. The first juices were around 13°or 13.5° potential, but this quickly rose to 14°, 14.5° for the majority of my parcels.
Even this early on it was evident the acidities were going to be lower than 2015, the vintage that most resembles it due to to dryness and heat. On top of this, if the PH levels got any higher, adding tartaric acid would have been necessary. To avoid this at all costs, I separated the ends of each press (these always have less acidity) hoping to balance the juices.
This resulted in what will be one of the particularities for my wines in 2018: a slightly darker color than usual. It looks like there is a slight oxydation despite this not being the case. This corrected itself slightly through the fermentations but is still noticeable. The other particularity will be very long, laborious fermentations. As of this writing, only the Saint Véran barrels and one vat have finished fermenting. In the end I believe the wines will be really good.
And something new this year! I've experimented vinifying a vat without the addition of sulfites. For the time being it's showing quite nicely, though I need to keep a vigilant eye on it.
by Phillipe Chevarin, November 1st 2018.
2018 is another year where we narrowly avoided disaster. On May 1st, there was a drastic drop in temperature at night, resulting in some frozen buds but no real damage. On May 26th, we suffered a hail storm that touched about half of our land. The damage was mostly on the leaves and shoots, but again we were relatively spared. It mostly caused stress for the vine and the vigneron.
The rest of the season went well despite a very strong mildew pressure and lack of water. The vines have compensated for the last two vintages of minuscule crops; grapes were beautiful and plentiful, almost too plentiful in certain sectors.
We began harvesting on August 31st with a parcel of Melon destined for a pied de cuve that would help kickstart the fermentations of future juices. Harvest itself took place under the hot sun. The yields are superior to what I'd estimated, it was almost a challenge to get everything into the vats! It's a first for me since starting in 2015, and I have to say I'm thrilled!
We finished on October 6th with the Cabernet under a dramatic downpour! The fermentations have gone smoothly, with the malos happening quickly, usually before the alcoholic fermentation has finished. Fortunately this was without a spike in volatile acidity.
In the end I am really happy with the Melon: I was able to vinify individual parcels for the first time and I will wait for winter to decide the blends. The rosé, from a Gamay Teinturier base, will be quite colored. Three vats of Gamay were vinified, all quite different. Again, I will wait for winter to decide on blends.
I will likely bottle everything in March.
by Anne Houillon, October 2nd 2019.
We are happy with this harvest. We can say "FINALLY"!!!
There is real volume and of the utmost quality! We had to do a little sorting on the Ploussard because we were on the extremities of a corridor of hail. But our team, as always, was top-notch and knew how to do this work!!!
This harvest took place with joy, sun and an international team ready to share their common bond of sharing good times.
by Marie-Pierre Iché, October 1st, 2018.
Our last day of harvest was on Saturday, September 29th under a beautiful sun.
Good weather was with us for the entirety of the harvest. We started on September 10th for the whites. The first reds were picked on the 12th on the Oupia sector and on the 18th around La Caunette.
It's a better harvest than the last two years. Despite it being a challenging vintage for many, here there was very little in terms of struggling with illness.
In 2018 we've decided to use a lot less S02 than we usually do.
by Valérie Forgues, September 15th, 2018.
Today I'm in the cellar, racking the Sauvignons and doing a remontage on the Pineau d'Aunis. Yes, it will be a red wine this year, the quality is top-notch.
Still no rain, so the grapes are hyper-concentrated. And it's very hot... We're starting very early in the morning, right at the crack of dawn. We've been packing a lot of water, towels and for many of us, jumping into the river after a morning of picking.
The Sauvignons, Gamay and Pineau d'Aunis are picked. Next week, we'll tackle the last of the grapes under a punishing sun.
My challenge: that my wines be as beautiful as the beautiful young picker in the attached photos!
by Sonya Lebled, September 12th, 2018.
For once I have some pictures!
For the first time, our eldest daughter Barbara helped us harvest :) Everything is going well, we have good volume, nice acidities and a pronounced, fruity flavor in the juices.