an eventful 2016 season
The scope of the frost that hit Burgundy late April is unheard of in a very long time.
One has to call on the « old guys » to remember something similar: perhaps in 1945 ? This dramatic start was confirmed when it appeared that secondary buds would not compensate at all ... And vineyards which at first appeared unscathed showed smaller and fewer berries than normal.
During a particularly humid month of May, a downy mildew epidemic wreaked havoc.
Certain vineyards seemed to literally "catch fire", with symptoms appearing in just 48 hours and reaching the grapes themselves. Usually, it is the leaves that take the hit. The vintner was under maximum pressure, and wondered even in June if he would be able to keep the diseases in check: powdery mildew also was beginning to pick up, who knew where it would end ?
Then, a miracle: rain stopped almost completely, and July was fair, August warm and sunny ...
At the beginning, it was taken as a respite, a pause in that crazy run to disaster, enabling people and equipment to rest. But as a warm and dry summer went on, questions shifted nature: how should we protect the berries from sun burns, are the vines evolving slowly because of the lack of water, should we harvest sooner than we thought ? Slowly, another type of vintage, definitely warmer, was taking shape, and with it, our mood shifted.
The drought did not stop until late August.
Even after that date, weather did not change much: it remained calm, temperatures were warm, and precipitations isolated, although sometimes abundant. Rain had been desired and indeed, it allowed the vineyards to restart the ripening process. But berries also increased in size (30 mm of rain in a few days just do not fall unnoticed), and it could have proved dangerous in the end if that messy weather had carried on. Fortunately, it was not the case, and with good weather back, concentration and ripening could resume.
In the end, harvest started on September 26th, in ideal conditions.
Harvesters picked very healthy grapes for the most part. There were one or two threatening episodes but in the end, no significant precipitations. It was a serene process, as much as this term can be used for a harvest ... But still, what a contrast compared to the agony we went through at the beginning of the year ! As if nature wanted to right itself ... Harvesting vineyards stricken by frost was indeed difficult: however few grapes there remained, they were difficult to find in vines which had regrown as bushes. A lot to do for a meagre result.
Qualitatively, we are optimistic.
Analyses show a good balance: we see full ripeness, with alcohols reaching high levels (between 13 and 14°), and very appropriate acidities. On the palate, wines appear very pretty but a bit rain the end; this vintage will show its true character only after malolactic fermentation is complete. Although on paper the two vintages are close, we do not seem to have the same density as last year. Some speak about 2010 ... Impossible to confirm at this stage.
In terms of quantities, there are huge differences between the vineyards.
It is now clear that before the frost, harvest potential was quite big. In Vosne Romanée, which was largely spared, we were surprised with rather high quantities. In vineyards stricken by frost however, there was no miracle, even if crops in general were on the higher end of our estimations. From Vosne Romanée on, yields decrease as you go towards Nuits St Georges. Clos Vougeot, in which we counted 50% of frosted buds, ends up with a crop just 25% lower than normal; the Chambolle 1er crus, heavily affected at 80%, still make a third of a normal crop, but Marsannay does not reach that level. In Corton, there is almost no crop at la Vigne au Saint, whereas Perrières and Clos Rognet, both located above the frost line, turn out a nice crop.
It is undeniable that this harvest has had a soothing effect on the somber mood that has been pervasive since the beginning of this eventful season. But we were very lucky ... And this is not the case of many of our colleagues in the region.All the News