Oct 6, 2013

Harvest 2013 in Condrieu and Côte-Rôtie

Grapes were harvested in Condrieu and Cote Rôtie this past week in beautiful weather and the vintage looks good in quality however limited in quantity. Due to problems with flowering in May, the yield i.e. quantity of grapes is significantly smaller than in an average year. In particular  for Viognier, the quantity is 50% less than usual. 

Thursday morning started with punch-down of the grape must in to the grape juice for the maceration of the Landonne block of Cote-Rôtie which was harvested a day earlier. We were happy to pick Viognier for Condrieu and Vin de Pays and most Syrah for Côte Rôtie before the rain which started pouring on us after 6 on Friday (Oct 4th) evening. The rain lasted only the evening and part of the night while beautiful sunshine on Saturday morning helped dry the grapes. The rain was supposed to last for 30 hours but as it lasted significantly less, vignerons were fortunate that the risk of dilution of grape juice was not as high as expected. It takes 3 days for the water to climb up to the grapes, however the last grapes were scheduled to be picked up in Monday, thus the rain water does not have time to reach grapes.

Wine harvest in Condrieu and Côte-Rôtie is a balancing act, literally. The steep terraces are a challenge for the pickers and the carriers of 32 kg grape baskets. The photos do not entirely make justice to the steepness of the terraces but after this, Burgundy's flat vineyards are a piece of cake.

Oct 3, 2013

2013 Harvest blog 1 - Condrieu & Côte Rôtie

It is finally harvest time after a particularly long growing season hindered by rains and lower average temperatures for many wine regions in France. Due to the lower average temperatures this year, the waiting period for grapes to reach ripeness has been extensive as this years' harvests are generally 2-3 weeks later compared to the last year. Harvest in most Burgundy vineyards starts later than in 2010, a vintage also known for lower average temperatures, higher acidity and wines needing extensive periods of bottle maturation to become more accessible. It is interesting to seen how much rot is found on the grapes, the high-end growers fearing that this vintage will be one with a significantly lower yield (in tonnes) than usual as the quantity of non-healthy grapes is higher, driving the overall quantity produced down due to careful selection of grapes.

This year I will start harvesting in the Northern Rhone Valley, at Condrieu and Côte Rôtie, 40 kilometeters south of Lyon, for Viognier and Syrah grape varieties. Harvest season finally began and vinemakers now hurry to harvest all grapes before the looming rains during the weekend.

After the harvest in Northern Rhone, I will travel north 220 km to Burgundy's Gevrey-Chambertin for Pinot noir and Chardonnay harvests. Reports are on the way and readers will be provided with information on how the vintage develops. Stay tuned. 

Alarm clocks are set for waking up at 6.15 am, it will be a long but interesting day tomorrow.