Season/Harvest Notes 2013

Season and harvest notes by James.

FloweringThe late, cold Spring defined the growing season with nature barely catching up. In May we were on the cusp of suffering frost damage on numerous occasions but somehow escaped – even the whites in the valley (our most frost-sensitive spot) were unscathed.

What felt like a two week delay to the growing season turned out to be more like three weeks as we progressed through a damp second half of May.

coulureThere was a burst of heat at flowering, this led to stress and a compromised fruit-set on the Grenache which eventually brought the yields right down – by 20-50% depending on the parcel.

The hot weather that we had in July provoked the vines to shut down and keep their reserves rather than mature so further contributed to the lateness. Late July was the wettest we have seen so there was not any water stress this year – but meant there was high pressure from mildew on the young leaves.

early hail damagehailed grapesThis hot weather also triggered some very impressive thunder storms (3 hours of lighting with strikes every second one night) which brought hail to every major wine producing region in France. Thankfully we were scrafed lightly, just once, and it was early enough in the season that the still very hard, green grapes could heal. Some table grape producers (presentation being vital for them) locally lost whole parcels of grapes at this time, as did some vineyards here and in both Bordeaux and Burgundy).

Yields in the valley perked up a bit with the summer rain following two years of being very light on Clairette.

Ventoux et PigeonnierAugust was dry and sunny but not as hot as previous years and September was just what was required: the full Provençal sun (which other wine producing regions were in desperate need of too) – but oddly it didn’t bring on the fruit quite as we thought. So nothing was picked until October, a first for us.

Pre-harvest (end of August) the grapes all looked healthy, mainly because the levels of acidity were still so high. Maximum foliage was kept through the season as we thought the grapes would need all the leaves they have to ripen.

While a friend in Gigondas started picking the latest his family had since 1963, we kicked-off with the rosé on the 3rd Ocotber and the reds on the 9th.

grapes bucket 'Seau!'As for the wines, the fruit was picked as late as we dared – finishing the Grenache on 19th October (again, our tardiest yet). The lateness of the year has contributed to slightly lower alcohol levels (as will less Grenache in the blends due to the poor flowering). But the acidity is also lower so the wine’s balance will be found at a different place this year.

There is plenty of colour, structure and expression, with the softness coming from the lower levels of acidity rather than the enrobing alcohol.

rose after pressingIt is a classic “vigneron’s year” that if you did as you always do you would have ended up with unripe fruit, and too acidic, green wines. If you followed each parcel’s development and picked when ripe then there’ll be something worthwhile in the cave.


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