Southwest Vintage Report

Chateau La Caminade (Cahors), Dominique Ressès

It was a very demanding vintage. First of all we suffered a severe frost in the Spring (7th and 8th of April) Which resulted in a crop loss of 50%. Following, the Spring and Summer were rather cold and wet, this led to delays in phenological development and the constant threat of disease. These were general conditions in French and European vineyards.

In spite of everything, and thanks to a lot of rigorous work, we were able to keep our vines and grapes in good health. This vintage cost a lot [of hard work]! The usual phenolic maturities were very difficult to achieve , we had to plan for an early harvest in order to maintain an excellent state of health of the fruit, which remains the most important factor in producing clean, pleasant, gourmet wines, without flaws.

The harvest went quickly, from September 30th to October 4th. I conducted rather short fermentations (5/6 days only) favoring gentle and more precise extractions with thermo-vinification for the finesse of the tannins and use of dry ice for more fruitiness in the wines. Overall the wines are well colored, thanks to the thick skin of the grapes, rich in anthocyanin, the profile of this vintage is of fresh fruit with notes of “thiols” supporting the freshness.

The structure is rather light with fine, smooth tannins on the finish. Finally, it is not a year for premium vintages (there will be no CY 2021) but on the other hand we are completely satified by our tradition cuvée and Mission la Caminade.

Chateau Laffitte Teston (Madiran), Jean-Marc Laffitte

The 2021 vintage was an atypical year, with spring frosts at the end of April, only impacting only the white grape varieties in the IGP Côtes de Gascogne.

The summer was moderately hot. As a result, the vines did not lack water or suffer from water stress. The harvest was later than usual, from the end of September to mid-October. During this period, the nights were cool and the days sunny with higher temperatures than in summer. The harvest was very healthy, and this year there are lots of notes of fresh fruit, a slightly lower alcohol content but still very elegant tannins.

Domaine Philemon (Gaillac), Mathieu Vieules

A year 2021 to forget, difficult. The April frost which caused a loss of 50%, then the rain at the time of the harvest which damaged the grapes. Overall we had a loss of 70% of our production. Some plots were not harvested: Prunelart, Ondenc….
During the manual harvest, the grapes were sorted to remove damaged grapes. The vinifications went well. Hoping that the year 2022 will be better…..

Domaine Castera (Jurancon), Franck Lihour

This year, more than others, we stayed focused on what is essential, that which requires us to rise in the mornings, the vines and the wines. In this light, I wanted to, in a few lines, describe this unusual vintage.

After a particularly mild winter, budding came very early, at the end of winter. Then with a very rainy Spring there was an onset of mildew, however, it was soon followed by consistant hot and dry weather, calming its spread. In spite of that, there was a period of drought in our part of the Béarn. Grasses grew more slowly than usual, because there was no more that 150mm of rain from the end of June until August.

These climactic conditions resulted in the earliest harvests known to Man. The first bunches were cut on the 7th of September, during the time that is usually for bottling the previous vintage. Also the time during which our thorough preparation of the cellar for the incoming vintage takes place. This harvest coming 3 weeks in advance did not allow for a tranquil mise en place. We had to do everything at the same time and I can tell you that managing bottling and the pressing of the new harvest together requires a certain calm and an excellent team of collaborators. Now that the 2019 are bottled and the vinifications are (almost) finished, we have made it to future!

During fermentation, the wines were tasting very forward, open, however towards the begining of élevage the wines were tasting much more refined, and with lovely aromatics.

Domaine Philemon (Gaillac), Mathieu Vieules

2020 = “The year of wine”

After a mild winter, the bud break was very early at the beginning of March with numerous flowering clusters, predicting an early and abundant harvest. Despite a very rainy spring with a rather significant threat of mildew, the clay soils accumulated significant water reserves. Fortunately good weather continued during the flowering with the appearance of beautiful bunches. The hot and very dry summer months put a strain on the vines’ vegetative cycle. The harvest began on August 27, the earliest year after 2003 (severe drought). On deep soils, the rooting of the vines made it possible to maintain the water supply to the bunches. The white grape varieties were harvested first in order to maintain the best acidity, the reds as they matured, which was more spread out this year due to the lack of water. The latest red grape varieties were harvested at the last minute before the heavy rains and hailstorms! The year 2020 is one of the best vintages for the past 15 years. The whites are lively and very aromatic, the reds are sanguine…

Domaine du Cros (Marcillac), Philippe Teulier

This is a vintage marked by a year full of contrasts.

To start, an early Spring, up to 3 weeks in advance, then a hot and dry summer.

Harvests began end of September under good conditions, but followed by a rainy period, during which we had to stop cropping.

Fortunately, our Fer Servadou variety is resistant to these phenomenons, due to it’s thick skin.

We therefore waited until the end of the bad weather to restart the harvest, which completed on October 21st, under sunny skies.

Today [mid January 2021] the alcoholic and mololactic fermentations are finished.

The first tastings of the wines are promising and indicate that the wines will be round, balanced, fruity, very typical Mansoi.

In short, a year which finished well….

Domaine Laffitte-Teston (Maridan), Jean-Marc Laffitte

We can say with certitude that the year 2020 was a year to forget as soon as possible because of Covid.

The positive aspect is the quality of the vintage 2020. After a hot Spring and Summer, the grapes became rich and plump from the sun, but with no lack of water, as we had several rainstorms, the vines did not suffer and were able to slowly achieve proper maturity.

The great surprise of this vintage is the freshness of the wines, with lovely aromas of fresh fruits and an elegance of tannins. We are very confident and very pleased with this vintage, both in white and red.

Chateau La Caminade (Cahors), Dominique Ressès

This year, for all of us on this earth, life and work has become more difficult.

Fortunately, nature this year has been more favorable, kind and generous.

This 2020 vintage started very early in March, almost 2 to 3 weeks ahead of what is usual.

Spring was calm, sunny and very mild. No frost and perfect flowering. Summer was a lovely continuation of this wonderful spring. Very sunny and calm. Almost too calm because very little rain, not even a thunderstorm.

This made it possible to control the health of our vines with little treatment but, on the other hand, caused fairly significant water stress from mid-July and until the end of August. This slightly delayed veraison.

Fortunately, at the end of August, a little rain (9mm + 25mm) was very beneficial and above all gave a boost to the end of veraison, especially to maturity levels.

In September, until the 18th, it was very very hot again (even at night). Fortunately we did not have any brûlure, but it certainly came very close.

We waited until Monday September 21 to start the harvest to benefit from milder temperatures. 20mm of rain fell on September 25 and 26, but without any effect on the quality of the grapes. On the contrary, it refreshed the days and especially the nights, which had the effect of finalizing the maturities on our latest maturing Malbec and Tannat.

The harvest ended on September 30, about 10 days earlier than average.

Today the 2020 vintage is well finished and the malolactics are complete.

This vintage is very typical of warm years !!! The aromas of very ripe fruit dominate. Nice richness but without any excess. Balance and softness of the tannins are revealed on the palate thanks to well acquired phenolic maturities. The rather low total acidity and somewhat high pH after malo (between 3.62 and 3.70), which are characteristic of warm years, will not make it a vintage for cellaring par excellence but rather a vintage for short and medium term pleasure. In short, a vintage more of finesse than of richness.

Voilà, my little wine summary of this strange year. Already my 39th harvest !!!!!

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!!!)

Domaine Brana (Irouleguy), Jean Brana

Following a rainy winter, Spring was chaotic and cold, and consequently, flowering was difficult, resulting in signifigant bud loss and a 25% loss of yields.

Reversely, summer and early fall were idyllic.

Resulting in a vintage of very high quality.

Concentrated reds, rich in tannin, particularly silky.

Whites are rich and balanced, complex, nevertheless fresh and tonic.

Domaine du Cros (Marcillac), Philippe Teulier

The year 2019, is bit of a particular year ; the vines budded out 2 weeks later than usual, then during the last days of April, several morning frosts destroyed a quantity of buds. It remained difficult at the time to estimate the damage this would have on the crop.

Beginning June 15th, warm weather settled in the valley of Marcillac, and lasted until August 15th. After that a few light rains and cooler temperatures followed. Together, these climatic conditions allowed us to catch up from the Spring delay and we were able to limit treatments in the vines to 3, even just 2 in some parcels.

Several parcels required green harvesting of vines that were carrying too many bunches. In mid-September, a rain of 40 mm allowed the vines to finish their cycle of maturity and achieve full ripeness.

We were able to begin harvests at the beginning of October, and finished 3 weeks later around October 20th. A team of 30, very friendly harvesters, did a wonderful job. Overall, everything went smoothly, except for two days of drizzle which kept us from bringing in grapes.

The only downside of the 2019 harvest is quantity, in the end there was a 30% loss of a normal harvest, as a result of climatic conditions (frost and drought).

In the cellar, the quality of the fruit was very good, we were working with base material of top quality.

Los Sang del Païs 2019 will be true to itself, fruity and easy to drink.

Domaine Philemon (Gaillac), Mathieu Vieules

The year 2019 and the 2019 vintages

The meteorlogical conditions were clement in 2019, except for 2 critical episodes:

The 1st and 6th of May with temperatures below -1°c, we came very close to frost in the vines. We lit straw fires along the vineyard borders.

In summer : 2 heatwaves with temperatures above 40°C which scorched those grape bunches which were most exposed to the sun.

In Spring the the cluster set was small in quantity; the climatic threats during the growing season had little impact; the harvest in terms of quantity is limited (20% crop shortage).

The quality is there, with consistant (for 15 years now) weather in September : Hot and dry with temperatures at +30°C.

Small nuance, mid-September, during the harvests, there were some small showers.

The grapes brought in at that time are juicier, with more moderate concentration of sugars.

Fermentations were quick, then malolatics commenced.

The tannis are already softened and the fruit dominates.

The 2019 wine are showing to be supple and drinkable.

Domaine Castera (Jurancon), Franck Lihour

2019 was quite a dry year. It was not very hot, but we lacked rains. That caused a loss of quantity of about 30%.

The wines are lovely and balanced, but there is very little.

Domaine Philemon (Gaillac), Mathieu Vieules

The vintage was quite complicated with incessant rains in Spring, we had to double our organic treatments against mildew (for which we used orange peel oil, which worked against mildew and oidium as well). Then, the opposite situation in August and September during which we had no rain for a period of 70 days. As a result was an exceptional maturity of the grapes for harvest! The hydratic stress had beneficial effects on the quality of the grapes, but was concerning regarding its effect on younger vines, which, with still shallow root systems, are sensitive to drought .

The whites were brought in quickly in order to preserve freshness (acidity) and to limit their alcohol levels. As for the reds, they became concentrated very quickly, and managing overripeness was more difficult because harvesting is by hand and requires more time.

In the cellar, fermentations with indigenous yeasts were thus more difficult as a result of higher sugar levels, notably the reds, but the result is the best of this exceptional vintage.

At the level of tasting, the reds are structured, deeply colored with silken tannins. The whites are mineral and subtle with a beautiful freshness.

In sum : The start of the campaign was difficult in terms of weather but a long dry period before the harvest was very beneficial to the quality of the crop. We thus brought a very lovely harvest to the cellar. It is during winemaking that ripeness levels were more difficult to manage because the indigenous yeasts were fragile and therefore the fermentation periods were longer. In the glass, the 2018 vintage is of high quality and that is what we will remember.

Chateau La Caminade (Cahors), Dominique Ressès

A few words on the vintage 2018:
It can be summarized as follows: An almost perfect richness, finesse and balance thanks to a warm and dry summer which effectively reversed the negative effects of a cool, rainy spring.
It is the “sunny vintage” par excellence, classic and very ripe fruit , low acid, easy drinking.
Harvests started on September 27 and finished October 11, with the exception of the Tannat ,harvested later
We chose to harvest early, to avoid any over-ripeness, in favor of freshness and also to limit the alcoholic potential between 13 ° 5 and 14 ° for Mission Caminade and not much more than 14 ° 5 for the wine Commandery (CY).

The vintage almost perfect in fact !!! It was not too hot and especially dry during harvest days. Overall, there was very even maturity in our vineyards, perfect sanitary conditions and the grapes, with thick skins, that are rich in fine tannins.

Domaine Philemon (Gaillac), Mathieu Vieules

Regarding the 2016 vintage : a vintage of suspense.

After the very mild 2015-2016 winter, the most optimistic winegrowers predicted a very early harvest, around August 15….

However with the cold spring bringing frosts in late April and early May, we experienced several “nuits blanches” (localized frosts). The heavy rains in May and June engendered a strong attack of mildew, forcing me to treat the vines every week, even every 3 to 4 days ; with the great uncertainty of the effectiveness of organic treatments. Summer weather didn’t arrive until the 15th of August, and lasted through October.

The grapes reached maturity only at the end of September and beginning October, however the harvest was plentiful.

The Reds are fruity with attenuated concentration despite deep color.

The Whites are vivacious, and fresh.

Domaine Castera (Jurancon), Franck Lihor

The 2015 vintage is not as simple as it appeared would be.

The weather was beautiful and warm. And so we were under little pressure during the vegetative phase. The weather during harvest was equally magnificent. No rain. Consequently we had the necessary time to bring in the crop. The vines fared well.

Paradoxically the grapes are low in potential alcohol and the acidity remains present which is a good sign for moelleux wines.

The wines of 2015 have a profile that is more discreet, more fresh and more reserved than the 2014s which are expressive and accessible.We’ve continued the work we initiated last year with new a pressing technique, making slower pressings, treating the grapes more carefully, respectfully.

Domaine Larredya (Jurancon), Jean-Marc Grussaute

2015 was a lovely year. The beginning of the season rained as usual, then flowering (beginning of June) took place under sunny skies.

Summertime was struck by successivive periods of intense heat then coolness. The various growth stages of the vine happened a bit early.

The harvest, slightly early, happened under exceptional conditions. The dry whites were brought in between October 15th through October 25th, then we immediately embarked on the harvest of the moelleux grapes. Finally the grapes for “Au Capceu” were harvested around the 15th of November. Which is early, but the alcohol levels were fully present.

The profile of the wines is of finesse, the alcohol levels are correct and the acidity refreshing on the mouth. The aromatic palette, is at this moment, very delicate.

Domaine du Cros (Marcillac), Philippe Teuilier

The 2015 vintage ranks among recent excellent years, in the same style as 2011, 2009…

A beautiful color , a nose of ripe fruits, and lots of roundness in the mouth…

Domaine Philemon (Gaillac), Mathieu Vieules

2015 : The vintage is THE most promissing since my installation at the domaine in 2003.

It confirms to be of the same quality as the “vintages in 5” (1975, 1985, 1995, 2005).

The vines benefited from an ideal development, due to measured climactic conditions:

-rapid budbreak in Spring

-flowering during warm and dry weather in June

-beginning, then the end of veraison favored by 2 rainstorms

-maturity and harvests during dry weather and agreeable temperatures

Chateau La Caminade (Cahors), Dominique Ressès

Here then, below, a small summary of the last vintage 2015.

The beginning of the season was not particularly early for budbreak, but the mild and even hot conditions at the beginning of april favored a rapid start to the vegetative phase.

Growth is quick, flowering is very early (end of flowering june 5th 2015), “closing” of grape bunches finished around July 5th and the beginning of veraison noted July 20th 2015.

Spring and Summer are very dry a even several rainstorms were net enough to avoid a drought, even “hydric stress” of the vineyards.

For this reason of lack of rain, the stage of veraison was, by contrast, very long, lasting over practically 3 weeks. (normally requiring 7 – 10 days). The rain finally came around the 20th of August, but already a bit late to effect maturing and development of sugars.

Furthermore, this rain continued for the first 10 days of September, further delaying maturation, and we worried for the health of the grapes.

Happily all of the vineyard work (suckering, leaf thinning, green harvesting and the very healthy state of the crop thanks to a hot and dry summer) allowed us to attain the proper maturity.

Because of this wet end of summer, we delayed the harvest date until September 25 2015 to order to finally arrive at a beautiful aromatic and phenolic ripeness of our grapes and also to be able to harvest during dry weather.

In summary, this vintage is a bit a year of all excesses. Very hot and dry starting in April, then a lot more wet (almost too much!) at the end of summer, finishing with beautiful and clement weather for the harvest.

The result of all this on the wines is that the vintage 2015 is very gourmand . The tannis are quite ripe with the fullness and ripeness of wines from very sunny vintages, but also with a lot of freshness and “crisp” thanks to a pretty, well balanced acidity.

In the end, it is an advantage, this slight “dillution” from the rains at the end of August, beginning of September resulting in a vintage that is not excessive in alcohol. Following the different vats, the degrees will be only 13° to 14°5.

Château Du Bloy (Bergerac), Bertrand Lepoittevin-Dubost

Concerning our domaine, the 2015 harvests were spread out over a long period ; we started the harvest of white grapes September 7th and finished with that of the reds on October 9th. If the volumes prove to be lower compared to the past year’s, the quality, very happily, will be once again of the desired level. The climactic conditions were relatively favorable throughout the summer, and, if it was necessary to take certain risks by delaying the harvests in order to pick grapes at optimum maturity, our patience was rewarded in the end.

The replanting campaign that we started in 2011, will bear its fruit, literally and figuratively, now at three years time, and also allows us to take up again with more satisfactory yields, especially with vines planted narrowly at 5, 000 plant stocks per hectare.

The 2015 harvest, was for our domaine the second certified organic crop and it’s with satisfaction, even if its progress does not escape the slowness of the evolution of mindsets, that we note the rising enthusiasm of our clientel for this type of agriculture and winemaking, at once respectful of the environment, of terroir and the consumers.

In the press, the critics and specialized journalists continue to appreciate our cuvées and our production continues to receive very good placement in the diverse wine guides and reviews, in le Bettane et Desseauve, la Revue du Vin de France, le Gault et Millau, le guide Hubert sous la plume de Pierre Casamayor, and others.

Domaine Philemon (Gaillac), Mathieu Vieules

– the yields are very modest around 25 hectoliters/hectare (because of the hard pruning en goblet this year was low fruitbearing and because of the hard competition for the vines from natural grasses as part of Organic agriculture).

– exceptional climactic conditions in September and October (sunny and the Vent d’Autun) played an important role in the maturity of the grapes

*for the reds, pronounced colors and supple tannins

*for the whites, fruitiness and vivacity

The harvesting was done progressively according to the maturity of the varieties, without rushing.

The general quality of the 2014 in GAILLAC is quite varied.

Certain domaines had achieved exceptional yields, but suffered storms starting in mid-September, ruining their crops.

Domaine Castera (Jurancon), Franck Lihour

Concerning the 2014 vintage, quite a few changes.

First of all, I (Franck) have officially joined my parents in the domaine. We will progressively be making changes that I see as important.

In certain designated plots in the vineyard we are doing trials (with green fertilizers, organic farming, modifying pruning,….), We also have a new grape variety in production this year – Petit Corbu.

We’ve changed our way of harvesting. Still all hand-havested, we bring in the grapes in tubs, then place them directly in the press, without pumping for more delicate treatment of the grapes.

We are vinifying more and more with indigenous yeasts.

I am creating new cuvées (a sec and a moelleux) from selected parcels. Voila, a “brief” sum up of changes in 2014. Other things planned for 2015…

Chateau du Bloy (Bergerac), Bertrand Lepoittevin-Dubost

The 2014 harvest will be first in the history of our property to be certified in organic agriculture. It’s been a lengthy process of ethical practical considerations to undertake the path to organic farming, a road often sown with ambush, (« organics » is a bit like combatting with an arc of arrows compared to the heavy artillery offered by chemical solutions) ; for you it means the certainty to drink wines that are produced with the purest respect of the environment and for the health of you, the consumers. For the most sceptical or exacting among you, the time requiried for certification is 3 years in organic production, you can be assured that the past four vintages, and even before that, pesticides, insecticides, herbicides in the vineyards, undesirable treatments during vinification, have been banned from use here. In accordance with this strict practice, our 2014 rosé has just been bottled and represents the our first wine labeled as certified organic.

After a difficult start to the season, as trying physically as psychologically, with weather conditions marked by frequent rains that made for a real fear of a growing season to come wrought with complications, an almost perfectly sunny summer until mid-august resulted in one of the largest harvests we have had since we acquired the property in 2001. Certainly the yields did not reach the full production potential of the vines, but following the very small quantities of the two past vintages, 2014 marks a return to decent yields.

Although its not the most important, we are happy to mention the wine press continues to appreciate our wines and we continue to be recommended most notably by the guide « Bettane et Dessauve, as well as « Gault et Millau des vins ». Also, our Côtes de Bergerac rouge « Sirius » 2011 was awarded two stars by the guide « Hachette » 2015.

Chateau Caminade (Cahors), Dominique Ressès

After a nice May and June and a good start to the growing season (lasting 15 days), summer weather proved more complicated, with little sun and too much rain.

Because of this bad weather, in concern for quality and in the fight against botrytis, we thinned leaves, at the level of the grapes, on both sides of the vines. As well, we
did a green harvest in 2/3rd of the vines.

As a result, at the beginning of September we had a good potential yield, however lacked actual grape maturity.
Thankfully the weather changed a bit, the way it often does here, we came under the influence of warm winds from the South and South-West, bringing magnificent sunny days.

Finally, summer had arrived! And this beautiful weather lasted until the beginning of November.
Because of the work in the vineyard, plus the beautiful late-season weather, we were able to wait until grapes achieved full maturity before beginning harvesting them, perfectly heathy and ripe, on Sunday October 5th.
In all, it is a late maturing vintage, but of very good quality. I think that will be a vintage of finesse, expressive for its fresh, lively fruit quality, rather than power. At dregrees between 13% and 14% , it is elegant and balanced.