François Cazin, Cheverny, Touraine, on Nov. 23rdVintage 2009 is beautiful, despite some worries about finishing the alcoholic fermentation on two batches of Sauvignon blanc. At picking time, the potential alcohol was 13%, but after fermentation it is above 14%, so it is no surprise that the last grams of sugar are hard to transform: at any rate, I will keep about 5 grams of residual sugar in the wine to compensate the high alcohol. The malolactic fermentation has started on these vats this week, but, as usual and with some patience, we’ll get to a finished wine.
Chardonnay is easier than normally, its fermentation is finishing, and it is very promising, it has fat, roundness and citrus aromas, grapefruit particularly.
Romorantin is also easy, the first vats of sec are done, and after racking they taste easy-going, not too much acidity and good balance. I think in 6 to 8 months we’ll have interesting wines. Our crop for the old vines and the late harvest are still fermenting, no doubt those will be beautiful.
Our yields were better than the preceding vintages, with 40HL/HA for Cheverny white, 30 to 50HL/HA for Cour-Cheverny.
A great harvest of red grapes also, the Pinot noir are very pleasant, with structure and color, the Gamay are deeply colored and strong, I did 20-day macerations, yet the tannins are silky.
from the Thevenet Family's Vineyards in Clessé
Christine et Eric Nicolas, Domaine de Bellivière, Touraine, on Nov. 20th 2009We are very happy with our 2009 harvest. Quality and, at last, quantity are both here!
We picked under excellent conditions, be it the weather or the human factor, our team was great.
Summer went quietly, without problems, especially without the threat of mildew. We started picking on Oct. 1st with our red grapes and finished with a white moëlleux on Oct. 29th. It’s been a while since the harvest took so long!
Our red wines are now out of the vats and into barrels. This year for the first time we only partially destemmed, and for now the results are good, the wines are richer. But aging is only just beginning.
In white, we picked everything between 13 and 14.5%, and the wines are dry, except for a moëlleux of Coteaux-du-Loire for which we harvested botrytised grapes in several passes. There is already a lot of minerality, with good acidity and superb freshness.
That’s it, the harvest done it is time to go and pick mushrooms, there is a record crop of porcini in our forests this fall.
The crop in Loir-et-Cher according to Catherine Roussel, Clos Roche BlancheOn Sept. 9th: We will start our harvest tomorrow, Sept. 10th. The spring was “rotten” (i.e. too rainy), and the grapes that survived mildew, black rot and other fungi enjoyed a dry, hot, sunny August. That good weather is still with us and we’ll start under the sun.
PS: not one mushroom in sight, but I have made delicious blackberry jams (I cannot help it, I have to pick something wild!)
On Sept. 17th: We started on the 10th, as planned, with the sun. I wore flip-flops until the 15th, but yesterday I had to use my boots, there was morning dew, and today we had to stop, it rained all day.
We have picked the Sauvignon blanc, Gamay and Pineau d’Aunis (no red from Pineau, we had too few grapes.)
Yields are not what we were hoping for, but it’s not dismal either.
Sauvignon: 25HL/HA, between 13 and 14 potential, 5g acidity
Gamay: 24Hl/HA, 13.5, 5.5g acidity
Pineau d’Aunis: 19HL/HA, 12.6, 4.8g acidity
It’s a beautiful crop, there was no sorting necessary.
On Sept. 28th: We picked our Côt vines on Sept. 24th, under sunny skies but wearing boots in the morning because of the dew. The Côt is at 12.6 potential alcohol, 6g of acidity and a PH of 3.38. Since the weather is holding, we have decided to wait before picking the Cabernets.
PS: still no mushrooms, alas!
On Oct. 2nd: We finished picking on Thursday Sept. 30th with our Cabernets (12.6 potential, 5g acidity.) We were wearing shorts and flip-flops, the grapes were superb, with a yield of about 30HL/HA.
PS: now I’m on vacation, and still there are no mushrooms, whaaaaa!
Jean Maupertuis, St-Georges-es-Allier, Côtes d’Auvergne:On Sept. 3rd:
Here I see the harvest from Sept. 20th until the first days of October. For now, no climactic accident, no disease, the spring was ideal, the summer warm with a few storms but no damage.
The grapes are healthy, and the maturation quite advanced, so I am expecting, like a good part of the vineyards in France, a good vintage following two “difficult” years. The harvest is still a while away, so more patience is needed.
On Nov. 3rd:
The harvest started on Sept. 18th and we finished mid-October under permanent sun and summery temperatures. It was a slow-going harvest because we had to sort the berries that insects had damaged, a result of the high temperatures (one is never satisfied with the weather!) Fermentations are reaching their end and I will rack at the end of this week.
The heast during and after the harvest did not create major problems, even if the malolactic fermentations often finished before the alcoholic one.
The view of vintage 2009 we get now is of high ripeness and low acidity, the wines should quickly become pleasant and easy to taste (they are so already). They won’t be long lasting though, so I envision early bottlings in February or March. There has been a triple fermentation on the sparkling wine (Pink Bulles) which made the wine quite unstable, but with the cold already here and disgorgement at the end of the winter, everything will be fine
Alain Girard, Domaine Girard, Verdigny-en-Sancerre, Oct. 24thThe year’s climate:
The winter was cold and relatively dry, April started with three weeks of higher temperatures than normal, and May was also warmer. June and July were right on the average, and after mid-August it got really hot. On May 7th and July 16th, storms brought destructive hail to our vines, other rain storms kept the humidity sufficient in the soil until véraison (change of color brought by ripening.) Mildew was the main problem all through the season, but the dry spell of August and September gave us very healthy grapes. The yields are, alas, the lowest of many past years.
The sugar content shot up quickly and ended pretty high, while the acidity levels remained good, thanks to cool nights in early September, and the drought conditions.
The official date was Sept. 21st in Sancerre. We started on Sept. 24th and ended on Oct. 6th. We had good balance of sugar and acidity in all our plots, and picking was comfortable, with dry warm days.
This is a year for the annals, with structure and vinosity. The whites have subdued, very fine aromas, mainly fruity, with mineral and floral notes underlined by fresh acidity. These are generous wines, with fat and body, even a touch of heat, and a lively finish.
Tom Lubbe from Caudiès de Fenouillères, August 30thThree Trees, Domaine de Majas,
Our harvest is going to start around Sept. 3rd with our plots of Chardonnay, and we should finish around Oct. 6th for the last Carignans.
This year, the spring was quite wet, and the presence of mildew was important. But despite the humidity, flowering went well and rather quickly.
At the end of June, the weather took a turn for the better, with hot days (82.4 to 84.2) and cool nights (57.2 to 59): this is typical of our location, with a climate both mediterranean and continental, at an altitude of 350 m. (1,148 feet), with the Pyrenees mountains surrounding our valley of the Fenouillèdes with peaks up to 1200 m. (3,937 feet.)
August was particularly hot and dry (100.4F day, 68F night), and ripeness came quickly.
For our estate, yields are going to be about 20% less than in 2008, but the greater concentration promises a good vintage.
Gautier Thévenet, Domaines de Roally et de la Bongran, Clessé, Nov. 4thIn 2009, we had a “good” winter, cold and dry; an ideal spring, with a homogenous flowering; and a summer that deserved its name.
In all, the vines’ seasonal cycle benefitted from very favorable conditions this year. As usual, we were meticulous about plowing, but we got some relief from disease, mildew and oïdium, compared with the two previous years. Before the harvest, the grapes were impeccably healthy and it was easy to wait for the best picking time to achieve a balance of ripeness and acidity.
We started our harvest on Sept. 23rd, about three weeks earlier than in 2008 and its so-so summer. Potential alcohol is as we expected, between 13.5 to 14%; and, surprise, on our plot Chazelle (see picture) potential degree climbed to 15%.
The weather was almost summery throughout the harvest, and we ended up with highly concentrated musts, with great balance. The paradis (new wine partially fermented) is so delicious, we can look forward to a wine of great complexity.
The fermentations are going without any problem, but because the must is so rich, we expect it to ferment for a long time, the only way to get to a balanced wine.
This is an exceptional vintage, the climactic conditions were almost perfect and the harvest ideal. A year of good news, with, on a personal note, the birth of my daughter Ysé, in February.
Eric Texier, CharnayThe easiest year I've ever seen...
I've been able to harvest every plot at its exact perfect ripeness (according to my understanding of perfect ripeness of course).
I tried many things I wanted to try for years, like a recciotto of syrah from Brézème. Everybody should be pleased. You could harvest early with bright acidities and very good phenolic ripeness or harvest late and get huge concentration, alcohol levels and dark as hell wines.
Again, all styles were possible in a natural way. As if nature was tired of reverse osmosis, over acidification or watering:)))
High yields (not huge though) in the northern Rhône, which will please the lovers of balance wines (very opposite to 2005 wines). Low yields in the southern rhone but with slow maturation. People who will achieved 2007 style (which I really don't like at all in Chateauneuf, including my red which I'm still trying to bring back to something less
porty and more drinkable by working with lees...) will have choose it.
BTW, I have lost my Saint Gervais source. Due to the crisis it will be transformed into a swimming pool or a jardin à la française by some rich English people during this winter... how sad.
Franck Peillot, Montagnieu, Bugey, on Oct., 23rd2009 : a high-speed year
Since the spring, everything is going very fast. Just back from my trip to America (in April) and I was late already !
You’ve been reading my prose, and you know me well, so you realize that living so close to quiet Switzerland has had a big influence on me. There is a well organized nonchalance or a kind of punctuality in lateness, « the lake is not on fire » (Geneva lake, of course) but also the serious Swiss clockmaking factor.
So, as we say in France, I had been trying, at the beginning of 2009, not to confuse speed and precipitation : go directly to the essential and leave aside what could be done in 2010.
But the problem with 2009 was that every time I thought I was on the dot in my work, I had to start over, and FAST…. Which was quite tiring, but with age I have become wiser, and do the best I can without pulling my hair off (there isn’t so much left already !)
Anyway, the vines were in great shape, very healthy, there was little disease in the Bugey, it was a rare beauty to contemplate and I wonder whether I ever saw that in the past. My father himself said it was exceptional.
So, with everything going so fast, we were wondering if we’d picking around August 15th ? It was probable, according to the saying « Harvest happens 100 days after flowering, » which is usually quite accurate.
Nothing in July nor at the beginning of August came to contradict this notion. On the contrary, it rained a little bit, at night, several times, just enough to maintain optimal conditions for the vines to grow.
My wife Nathalie and my children could see the harvest coming soon, and their vacation slipping away, almost disappearing. I have a beautiful job, but vines are tyrannical ! Many things were unusual in 2009, but the sight of such splendid vines and grapes made me forget everything else.
Starting mid-August, the weather turned hot, without a drop of rain, temperatures reached 41C (106F) in the shade, and we feared 2003 was back. It was not the case, though : nights stayed almost cool, but the heat had blocked the vegetation, the vines went into safety mode. Some were losing their lower leaves, and the grapes did not grow on those any more. I had to sacrifice grapes (all of them on some vines) to keep them healthy in the long term. If comparing vines to human beings, think of a young child, too weak to carry a burden : you must dump the burden to save the child, it’s the only solution.
Oh darn ! to be so close to an exceptional crop and everything can go wrong in the 3 or 4 days to come !
A few drops fell one night, and I was irate : a few drops only… The next day, I heard that it hailed in Belley, 15 kms away from here. That sobered me up and made me feel lucky enough.
By sight, my Chardonnay grapes looked very ripe on August 26th, and a sample analysis confirmed it : 11.4% potential alcohol and 5g. acidity (NB : in France, acidity is expressed in grams of H2SO4 by liter, and not in tartaric acid.)
So it was high time to harvest for the Montagnieu Pétillant, and we picked the Chardonnay on August 29th (this had happened in 1976 – a hot and extremely dry year.) We added a few bunches of Altesse to get a better balance.
The following week, we picked the Pinot noir, which was superb, no one pink berry, all was black except the vigneron’s morale, as good as could be. The afternoons were too hot, so we only picked in the mornings. Ideal weather, cool and dry, no rain forecast in the next two weeks. Everything is so perfect that I decided to stop picking for a week and let the Altesse meant for the still wine evolve, also the Mondeuse, already deeply colored and ripe, the pips had no green astringency.
On Sept. 9th, we went back to the vines, and surprise, the Altesse had shot up 1.5 degree of alcohol, but not lost much acidity (acidity being, in my eyes, this vintage’s real challenge.) Great, we picked all the Altesse at once.
So why didn’t I try, as I did some years, to make a late harvest cuvée ? For a very simple reason : BECAUSE ! I’m sure this is a disappointing answer for some, I could have said it was my natural instinct, my knowledge of my work, scientific measurements, or a little voice coming to my ears that said : « Go, cut it all ! » It was none of the above, but a global feeling, a sense of the harmony and the balance of my future wine.
On Sept. 11th, we picked the Mondeuse, I was thinking I would do two cuvées by picking the rest much later. But on Monday the 14th, I decided to finish the harvest. The first vat of red smelled wonderful and I was determined to keep fruit in my wines : to hell with useless concentration, before all I like to drink wine and that’s how I want to vinify.
So, it was over. Now for some cellar news : my reds are almost finished fermenting and taste great ; the Altesse vats are still fermenting, there is fruit and freshness. My still wines for the Montagnieu are perfect (if perfection exists, and I doubt it does.) One darker note, my cuvée of still Chardonnay is already « heavy », with too much alcohol : my only consolation is that it will probably please some drinkers of « heavy wines », as in « heavy metal », a type of music I don’t digest well ; probably mainly my French customers.
I got a fruit lesson from the apples of a small tree planted near my cellar : the first apple I ate was beautiful looking, but it was green and had no taste ; 2 weeks later, these apples were acidic, sweet and showed some fruit ; the following week, the three components were enhanced, and the apples delicious ; then, for 2 or 3 days, pure balance, harmony, the apples could not be better ; past these days, everything got lost in over ripeness.
I like wines which express the fruit of the vines, not the enologist’s craft. Stages 2, 3 and 4 of my apples are what I aim for in my grapes. Stage 4 is so brief that trying to capture it carries a great risk of falling into the last stage, when all aromas and character are gone : that was my painful experience with a plot of Altesse in 2005. There is never an easy way, especially since wine grapes rarely possess aromas one can really taste (as opposed to table grapes, Muscat for example.)
Patrice Lescarret et Virginie Maignien, Causse Marines, Gaillac and Marcillac, on Oct. 22ndThis past year, the winter was cold and gave the vines a good rest, plus a real cleansing of the environment after two years of high mildew contamination. Spring started abruptly, and the bud-burst was a little crazy. Insects had a feast, eating away at some sensitive varieties, like Ondenc and Loin-de-l’Oeil. Fortunately, there was little rain, which limited mildew problems, and the pace of treatments. We were late plowing though, because the soil remained wet for a long time and prevented us from doing that work.
Flowering occurred early June, 10 days earlier than usual, and it went well (especially compared with 2007 and 2008.) Sulfur in powder form helped the flowering, and the potential yield was good for the red varieties, but not the white. After the last rains at the very end of May, the drought and the intense heat slowed down the ripening. We were anxiously awaiting some rain, but alas we got hail on August 1st: 20 to 30% of our vines were hit, and this means serious sorting at harvest.
The hail did not bring much water, and the drought lasted through the summer. The berries stayed tiny, the ripening really slow. Sugar levels shot up early September, and we could hear the harvesting machines doing their work. We had to step on our preparations, since it looked like an earlier harvest than we expected. And, surprise, our baby, Abel, also came early on Sept. 9th! We started picking grapes for the bubbly on Sept. 13th, under a summery sun. When tasted, the red grapes remained under-ripe, despite potential degrees of 14 to 15. Luckily, we got rain on Sept. 18th, and the two days of wet weather unlocked maturation and put some juice back into the berries.
So, with baby in tow, we went back to picking. White, red, everything followed. We never had that many pickers, all friends, we were able to work well, sort and have a great time. For the first time ever at our estate, on Sept. 30th everything was picked, except for the sweet wines.
The whites are superb and the reds promising. Another vintage that is full of surprises!
Michel Tête, Juliénas, on Sept. 15th:Our harvest started on Saturday Sept. 5th and we finished on Saturday 12th. There’s the promise of an exceptional vintage. We picked under perfect weather. The grapes were very ripe to almost over ripe, potential alcohol is 13 to 15 degrees, there is good acidity balance.
The drought that we had through most of the summer reduced the yields to 30-40HL/HA.
Marie-Pierre Iché, Château d’Oupia, Minervois, on Sept. 11thWe started early, on August 31st, with the Grenache grapes that go into our Vin de Pays. These grapes, despite the lack of rain and arid terrain, did well: yields are moderate, ripeness is good (13.5 degrees potential), a lot of color and silky tannins.
On Sept. 2nd, we picked a plot of Syrah with full South exposure, which is meant for the Minervois Tradition red and rosé. This was done a week earlier than last year, but our first impressions of the vintage are confirmed: deep color, powerful structure and complex fruit.
On Sept. 3rd there was a bit of storm, but only fine rain fell and allowed us to wait for even better ripeness, especially of tannins, the grapes were totally healthy and a little rain could do no damage.
On Sept. 7th and 8th we picked our white grapes, Viognier and Marsanne were at their peak of aromatic potential, yields were low.
We’ll pick the plots for Cuvée des Barons, Oppius and Nobilis around Sept. 14th to achieve full ripeness.
Jean Manciat, Charnay-les-MâconOn Sept. 5th: We are starting today, everybody is predicting an excellent vintage. Our forecasters (lab technicians) are comparing the grapes they picked pre-harvest with those of 2006. Of course this won’t be the same vintage, but there is a lot of sugar, close to or above 14 degrees potential in my vines, PHs rather high and acidity levels quite low. This should result in wines with roundness. The weather is perfect. We had a little rain last week, but the sun and balmy temperatures are back, nights are cool.
On Sept. 30th: So, how about the harvest? If you were to believe the buzz going around during picking, and if this had been 10 years ago, it would have been, once again, the vintage of the century! I think that it is too early to tell, but there is real excitement, a good thing given the general depressed ambiance.
Compared to 2007 and 2008, this summer’s good weather, which turned super hot in August, gave us hope that quality would be high.
I harvested from September 5th to 14th, under ideal weather. There was a bit of rush to get started, because of the August heat, but nothing to worry about.
I should even have started a little earlier, to get lower potential alcohol: my crop is between 13.5 and 14 degrees, which means straddling over the authorized limits. The PHs are a little higher than usual, and acidity levels often around 5g, with little malic acid, but there is good overall balance.
This is the case everywhere when yields were not too high, and it looks like the volumes were reasonable, especially in the southern Mâconnais. The vintage could be reminiscent of 2006, with touches of 2003. The problem for some cellars is low acidity, or added acidity.
In my cellar, fermentations are going well, and I expect them to take a long time.
All in all, a high quality vintage of moderate quantity.
Marc Ollivier, Domaine de la Pépière, Muscadet, on Oct. 6th, 2009[Written early September, before the harvest:]
There is real drought here: it rained 30mm in June, 30mm in July, nothing in August. The fields are burnt, trees like oak and ash are dying, the only green left is the vines. Even if some plots are really suffering from the lack of water, on the whole the grapes are superb, with already good ripeness and high acidity.
[During the harvest]
We started our harvest on Sept. 16th, and that first week it rained on Thursday. We were able to pick several vats of Pépière at good maturity, around 11 degrees and 5.5g. of acidity.
Our second week was spent under sunny skies, and it got pretty hot. We harvested the Clos des Briords at 11.7 degrees and 5g. of acidity. We also picked our new village appellation vines in Château Thébaud, and the figures were similar.
The sun was still shining the third week, and the grapes ripened further. On Tuesday, we picked the Gras Moutons plot: the crop was superb, potential degree also with 12.1 and 4.8g acidity. On Thursday and Friday October 1st and 2nd, we picked the grapes meant for Granite de Clisson: wonderful bunches, low yield (some botritys from the September rain.) With 13 degrees and 4.7g acidity, I hope this cuvée is going to find its balance. I don’t have much experience with making such high degree wines, but I am hopeful since the acidity level is good.
This is really a generous vintage, high quality AND good volumes. After two rather difficult years, at last we have a great crop!
The reds are not all in yet, I have picked my Côts, sensational, and some Merlot for cuvée Granite. Cabernets are to be done next week.
Yannick Pelletier, St-Nazaire-de-Ladarez, St-Chinian AOC, on Oct. 19th:This has been another dry year, like 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007 (it looks like there is a pattern of odd years.) We got a fair amount of rain over the winter and spring, and then almost nothing: 30mm between May and September.
Mildew was almost unseen, contrary to 2008, but there was more oïdium and destruction from vers de la grappe (NT: caterpillars of three types of moths: Eudemis, Eulia and Cochylis.)
The vines suffered from the draught, which prevented the grapes from reaching full ripeness. Tannins remained “green”, especially on Grenache grapes. Cinsault did better, although yields were rather low. Carignan and Syrah were all over the place in yields and ripeness.
On the whole, yields are reasonable, despite the drought, and the grapes were very healthy. I vinified about half my crop in whole bunches. Fermentations went quickly for the first vats, and are going extremely slowly with what was harvested later. Although it is early to say, it looks like they could take the whole winter to finish.
Alice et Olivier de Moor, Courgis, Chablisien, on Oct. 20thIn 2009, the bud-burst came early, and flowering started early also: however, rain and cold made it drag over two weeks. July was warm and humid, and we got hail on our Chitry and Saint-Bris vineyards.
Vers de la grappe, mildew and oïdium were a major threat this summer, but all diseases were conquered by Olivier and his caterpillar tractor.
August and September were really summery, warm and dry, and the grapes ripened fully. The wines should be balanced, a cross between 2005 and 2006. And, just like in 2005 and 2006, this is a small crop.
We harvested from Sept. 19th to 30th, and not once did we need our rain clothes, a rare occurrence at our latitude. We even were able to wait until Oct. 15th to pick the last Aligoté, and, at long last, we’ll know what overripe Aligoté tastes like.
This year, we started a small négoce business we had in the works for a long time, and harvested grapes from well-tended vines, with organic certification, in Chablis and Chablis Premier Cru.
Vintage 2008, which will be ready in December, held great, positive surprises.
With a late bud-burst, a rainy spring, but a quick flowering under good weather, a cool summer until mid-September, we expected a vintage very similar to 2007. Sun and north wind in late September created the conditions for a generous crop (47HL/HA), healthy and ripe, which we picked Oct. 2nd to 10th. We finished Rosette on Oct. 18th and 19th.
We got scared at the high acidity levels of the juice, much higher than in 2007, fortunately it was mainly malic acid (NT: which almost disappears during malo-lactic fermentation.) Potential degrees were ½ point higher than in 2007.
Alcoholic and malo-lactic fermentations went extremely slowly, in part because the juice was very cold at the beginning, and in part because the vines had reached the limit of their vegetative cycle, so there was very little nitrogen left for the yeast to eat up. We had to watch the fermentations very closely, especially since the malo-lactic started in wines with residual sugar (NT: risk of lactic acid turning into acetic acid, i.e. vinegar.)
Finally, the wines are rich and balanced, round and fruity, and their stony character is going to emerge soon. They should be reminiscent of our beautiful 1995, a classic vintage of what Chablis originally is supposed to be like.
Our Sauvignon blanc (Saint Bris), given its high ripeness, could not finish its sugar, and will be labeled as a Vin de Table. Such is the abysmal logic of the AOC, in our eyes (NT: Saint Bris has to be a dry wine to get its AOC label.) Olivier is designing a new label for this wine.
In spite of our oft complicated relationship with the press, we are happy to see that our work satisfied Eric Asimov of the New York Times, Edward Behr of the Art of Eating, and Jacques Dupont of l’Express (he awarded our wine the highest mark in his selection of Chablis 2008, published in his magazine September issue.) Internet sites and blogs also posted positive reviews of our work, and created word of mouth. We are really touched by all this, it is another incentive to do better and “truer” work.
Laurent Barth Pre-Harvest ReportWe are going to start tomorrow Sept. 12th. This is two weeks earlier than in 2008: usually, when it is time to harvest, the vines leaves are yellow/green, as fits the beginning of fall; the harvest skies are blue, so blue that one would think it’s been painted blue, so hard to describe. But this year, leaves are still really green, except on shallow soils, where the vines suffered from the drought. And the sky? Just like temperatures, the sky is summery.
So, how am I to deal with an early vintage? How to manage low acidity? I am fated to be super vigilant, given my ignorance of these factors. Emile Peynaud once wrote: “No precautions are ever useless; the better one knows, the better one must do, but there is no way to ever know everything.” So, 2009, a vintage of intuition?
I will start with my Pinot noir, the variety has enjoyed the prolonged summer.
Three people will be in charge of manual destemming tomorrow. First clics of shears around 8:00 am.