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.