Preview: Vintage Reports 2019 Every year about this time we ask our winemakers to send us reports on the current vintage : events over the growing season, harvest conditions, what’s happening in the winery during these early stages. It takes a while for all reports to roll in, which we will eventually compile and publish on our Vintage Reports page. Meanwhile we’ve received enough responses from all over France, from Champagne, Loire, Southwest, Rhone, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Beaujolais…to post a preview of Vintage 2019. Having heard from wine makers in different regions of France, weather conditions in 2019 were almost uniform, north to south, east to west, having to do with similar climatic irregularities during the growing season. All inconsistant with historic norms. Warm winter and early spring, leading to early bud set, only to be beset by frosts in April and delayed flowering, then heatwaves and drought in summer, somehow miraculous comebacks with needed rains at the end of the growing season, and clement harvesting weather. In general there was a loss of yields but high quality fruit. Climate changes are tangible and posing serious challenges to wine growers who are now needing to anticipate how to adapt their wine growing methods to deal with an erratic and quickly changing growing environment. Notes from our winemakers : L’Yonne Domaine d’Elise, Chablis, Frédérique Prain The year 2019 = a hot and dry year Alas, we had a bit of hail at the beginning of April and again in late April. The hail beginning of May at which time buds were between 1 and 12 cm. With this persistant cold budding was slow, taking through the end of May. The vines were in full flower around June 17th Which put the predicted harvest date at September 25th;Then the heatwave came! Very hot at the end of June: 38°C, beautiful all of the beginning of July and at the end of July, record hot temperatures in Chablis : 42.6°C on the 25th of July. End of August it was still very hot, and above all dry. So the harvests began in the region the beginning of September, around the 10th in Chablis, on the 17th at Domaine d’ELISE! The quality is excellent but its necessary to take note that there a lot of underdeveloped berries that were slightly dried out, and some even burned by the sun. The yields are only 40HL/HA instead of the usual 60. The degrees vary between 12.5 and 13.5, which is very high for Chablis and Petit Chablis. However the acidities are correct, allowing for making characteristic Chablis. They will be for medium term keeping. The juice is already tasting very well : its round and fruited, very agreeable on the palate. Since the year 2000 we’ve experienced many good years, despite climactic warming. Often with excessive ripeness comes a decline in acidity, which is not suitable for Chablis. Happily, le Domaine d’Elise always has good acidity because of its rocky, very calcareous soil. Savoie Domaine des 13 Lunes, Savoie, Sylvain Liotard The 2019 vintage was the vintage of confirmation for me (my third year), in spite of being a growing season of all possible climactic hazards. We had frost, hail, violent winds and 3 months of drought. I was anxious about protecting the grapes. In the end, the losses were not too bad, (15 to 20%). The acidities are for the monent high, a real mountain wine. The maturities were very good but heterogeneous, resulting in quite a bit of millérandage (mixed sized berries and partial crop failure). The fermentations are quite variable, according to different parcels. Those that got hail are taking more time. I really like these wines to come, I think that they will have great personality. I just finished (end October) putting the wines in tank or in barrel to finish fermentations and for maturing. Autumn work begins, earthing-up the vines, treating of the soils, replacing certain vines and a bit of commerce. Beaujolais Domaine du Crêt de Bine, Sarcey, Florence Subrin 2019, a crop of excellent quality but a small crop as a result of climactic hazards. The 2019 vintange for us will have been remembered by the successive late frosts in the month of April, as well as the hailstorm on the 18th of August. With the very warm start of the growing season, vegetation started early, then suffered the climactic “rewind” of a sudden drop in temperatures in April. Follwed then by a lovely spring and a hot summer, which was favorable to good ripeness of fruit. Unfortunately, the quantity was affected by a violent hail storm in August. Nevertheless, this small yielding season, makes up for itself in quality. Indeed, with such beautiful fruit, very balanced with delicate aromas, we are able to vinify wines that reflect that beauty the of fruit. Entirely hand harvested over 9 days, our 2019 cuvées are showing a rare finesse with beatiful bright “cherry” color, all with no added sulfur other than a minimal dose at bottling to protect them during transport. Beautiful “Natural” cuvées, are equally “Beaujolais” ; they will be released in the Spring 2020. Sud-Ouest Chateau La Caminade, Cahors, Dominique Ressès Here is my first impression of the 2019 millésime. We’ll say that the vintage, started a bit poorly with a spring frost (May 6th), but finished well, though with a reduced quantity, but superior quality than we estimated. In addition, a beautiful, hot and dry summer provided conditions for the vines to catch up on the delay caused by the Spring frosts. Finally, some rains at the end of August and beginning September, followed by nice weather, hot during the day, cool at night, during the whole rest of September, made for a lovely and homogeneous ripening of the fruit. We started harvesting the 3rd of October and finished the 9th, days were cloudy and cool. Today we can say that this vintage will be easy to drink, gourmand, with low acidities and high pH (already 3.6/3.7 before malolactic!!!) Loire Domaine Christophe Thorigny, Vouvray The harvests went very well. The crop is correct with a good quality in spite of the difficult climactic conditions of the year : 20% of vines affected by frost in the spring, heatwaves and drought this summer. Domaine Verdier-Logel, Côtes de Forez, Julie Logel The year 2019, once again, translates as an exceptional year, in the sense that the climate has upset the usual growth patterns of the vine and challenged the wine grower. Frosts during Spring and little rain caused a delayed development of the vines, which only started coming into a phase of fruit maturity at the end of August, which meant the winegrowers had to roll up their sleeves after traditional summer vacations. In the end, the harvest was quite satisfactory concerning quality. Vinification is just now finished, the wines are starting the maturing process and are already displaying a 2019 vintage that is less powerful than 2018, but more typical of the wines of the Forez and express the granite and basalt terroirs of the region. Champagne Champagne Perseval-Farge, Montagne de Reims, Isabelle Perseval Each new vintage is an occasion to write a new page in history and above all to understand new winegrowing conditions in the changing climate. The 2019 winegrowing season was once again quite singular : the erratic climactic cycles meant we had to organize ourselves around spring frosts, sudden unusual cold temperatures at budding and then heat waves during the summer. These changes in weather are recent and their consequences are unknown ; with little hindsight, an evolution is in progress. Each year we have to review the new imprint and rethink our production strategy. The musts are very aromatic, and stimulate the palate. They have fruit, balance, concentration with a touch of liveliness, everything is there. The fragrances emanating in the winery are so pleasant, we can’t wait to taste the first wines. Nature has given us the best, now it is up to us to magnify the fruit of our labor. The Chardonnay has quite particular aromas : complexity, fruitiness, while the Pinot Noir and Meunier are powerful and elegant. The 3 forgotten varieties (Arbanne, Petit Meslier and Fromentot) are very expressive. Their specific aromatic profiles are complementary : they combine freshness, balance, generosity and finesse. The production of the Cuvée Les Goulats remains very limited [1,000 bottles approximately / year] In the end, the cuvées will be a reflection of the winemaker, his passion and his emotion. To that add patience to discover an acomplished wine….. Now it is time that everyone takes ownership of their own Terroir and takes responsibilty and makes decisions to maintain productive vineyards, and bring the quality of production to the highest level. It is our credo and we consistantly pursue this objective. On this note, we have the pleasure to announce that Henry, our second son, has taken his place at the winery and that he has come to observe and assimilate Benoist’s savoir-faire after his wine-growing/making studies in Alsace and 2 years of profesional experience outside of our domaine. Bordeaux Chateaux Barraillots, Margaux, Yannick Martin The 2019 harvests took place in very good weather with grapes in very sanitary condition. It was sunny the entire harvest from September 26 through October 10th. The grapes were healthy and well ripened. Vinifications are almost complete, this week (end October) we finish the juice runs and pressings. The malolactics are also almost finished. In brief, a lovely crop, very good quality and good yields. Rhone Domaine de Berane, Côtes de Ventoux, Bertrand Ferary We had quite a few suprises in 2019. We grow Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. And for 19 years we have been harvesting them in that chronological order. For the first time Grenache matured before the Syrah. Incredible! In addition, maturities were blocked. One of the causes is that we had the hottest summer in Provence since 2003. The grape skins were very thick, natures reaction to protect the pulp from dehydration, preserving its own production. We did reach normal quantites, with wonderful deep color, with higher degrees than usual. We are performing many “déléstages” (multiple rackings of juice during fermentation and maceration, a process that aerates the juice and softens it by lessening time spent in contact with skins). And, hard to believe, for the first time, our Syrah and Mourvedre tanks have still not finished fermenting in early November. We expect they will have finished in a week. With this careful vinification, 2019 should be an excellent vintage.