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.