Pre-harvest report – Europe 2013
In the Languedoc Roussillon…
The Fumées Blanches Sauvignon harvest has begun! Friday, 6 September at 4 a.m., during a cool night (15°C). The first musts are promising, with good acidity and 12 % potential alcohol. Perfect for the FBs. We started 13 days later than in 2012. However this vintage has enabled us to harvest in excellent conditions with cooler nights. We will continue picking through the week.
More generally, flowering occurred very late: 10 days later than 2012 and 20 days later than 2011. The vines never caught up before the harvests.
On the whole the harvests presented a good level of quality, except for the Grenache Noir, which suffered from significant flower abortion both at Mas Janeil and the Château des Erles, especially in the plots at higher altitudes. The start of ripening was slow and ripening was particularly late and uneven. This will without doubt be the latest year for at least fifteen years.
A light sorting before the harvest of bunches that are green or not completely ripe will be necessary in many places in order to obtain red wines with silky smooth tannins.
One or two storms would be welcome to slightly increase the volume of the grapes. The vineyard’s state of health remains excellent despite a serious threat of powdery mildew since the end of April. We are staying vigilant: we should be harvesting the white grapes in a few days and the reds from the beginning of October.
In the Gers…
The much awaited rain last weekend (30-40 mm) will enable the grapes to ripen in good conditions, with no water stress, which will be good for the wines’ aromatic expression. The first tastings of the grapes suggest a good thiol potential and the harvests will start in the last week of September.
After a very wet spring, a dry July encouraged good growth and helped to keep the vines healthy. Here again, the harvests will be late this year and will not take place before the end of September: 30 days later than 2011, and fifteen days later than 2012. We anticipate modest yields because the rain during flowering resulted in some flower abortion and uneven grape size. The most affected variety is the Merlot around Bordeaux and the south west. The Colombard grapes in the Gers also suffered slightly, while the Sauvignon, which flowered after the end of June, fared much better.
The Spanish wine year had a troubled start: there were severe frosts on the night of 27 to 28 April in our vineyards in Toro and Rueda. The resulting losses were substantial.
Bud break occurred 15 days later than usual and the vines did not catch up due to a generally wet spring in the region.
The summer was hot and dry, but without reaching the records of recent years.
We will harvest our Sauvignon Blanc in the week of 9 September, and the Verdejo in October; we should start the Tinta de Toro at the very end of October, weather permitting.
The fruit/leaf balance is generally satisfactory, the vines are active and have no signs of stress. They are in good health.
However, the start of ripening was relatively spread out, creating a certain amount of unevenness in the bunches. This causes problems for both the oenologist and the agronomist because it becomes hard to manage the degrees of ripening; but our experience in Portugal has taught us that there can be a beneficial alchemy in mixed degrees of ripeness that produces complex wines.
We will keep our fingers crossed that there is fine weather during the late summer season.