I have just spent a whole afternoon checking each cask for any olfactory anomaly……….and all is fine for the 2016 vintage which did not start off too well; indeed, a superb month of September finally allowed the grapes to reach full maturity after the frost and hail in Spring, which hit most of us, and a rather unsettled Summer.
The grape harvest was good and although the quantity meant that the vats were rarely full, the quality was excellent.
Now it is a matter of patience and give time for this new vintage to develop.
At last a little breathing time! But no! … I was forgetting that in readiness for the 2017 annual Saint Vincent celebration in our pretty village of Mercurey, I must prepare some decorations, organize some cooking/tasting sessions and attend 3 meetings already planned for this week….
As it is too early to taste the 2016 vintage, in the meantime come and join us on 28 and 29 January 2017 and let us enjoy together the Saint Vincent festivities in Mercurey to celebrate the winegrowers patron saint.
We hope to see you soon.
La gelée noire... et la grêle blanche
April 13, 2016: violent hailstorm in Macon ... 1 500 hectares affected, with damage reported between 60 and 95% of crop loss ... not new, but unfortunately tragic for many farms ...
April 27, 2016: Dramatic frost
Three weeks have gone by and the consequences are easy to see but very hard to face ; of course, this refers to the frost damage which hit the Burgundy wine lands in the morning of 27 April.
Not one of our association members from the Chablis to the Macon regions was spared.
Some plots, which had never been known to be exposed to this risk, were hit this year because of the rainfall the night before which increased the effects; in fact the last time such a frost had occurred was in 1981.
The extent of the frost damage in the Burgundy area is estimated as follows:
*for 54% (15797 ha) between 0 and 30%
*for23% (6669 ha) between 30 and 70%
*for 23% approx (6784 ha) more than 70%
In those areas the most severely effected, the vegetation growth as a result is very slow and it is not easy to measure the impact on yield but the overall loss will be able to be evaluated according to the growth rate in each individual plot.
There will now be other matters to face: each vine plant will have to be monitored depending on the degree of frost damage or not, in order to assess how the grape harvest must be planned, most probably in several stages over a given period.
13 and 27 May 2016: violent hailstorm in Yonne.
Business and pleasure
The event nobody in the business world of wine can miss, « Les Grands Jours de Bourgogne »will be taking place from 21 to 25 March 2016.
We are looking forward to welcoming you on 23 March from 1700 hrs to 2100 hrs in the cellars of the Château de Chassagne for our exceptional wine-tasting evening, organized by our association of businesswomen in Burgundy wines - "Exception'elles" – another opportunity to appreciate the particularities of our winegrowing land.
A Cistercian monk, Dom Denise, once wrote in his memoirs with reference to the qualities of Burgundy wines that "the charm of the wine emanates from the fragrances drawn from the soil"; indeed, all over Burgundy, the complex geological structure evolved since the beginning of time - whether kimmeridigian or bathonian and bajocian and again Jurassic or rendzines - the wines have captivated the deposits which make them unique in the world of wine. Just as the Pinot noir owes its finesse to the limestone slopes, the Chardonnay grape replicates all the nature of the limestone soils and clayey marls.
And now to the world of the absurd – the war of nettles has been revived!!
Only a few weeks after the COP 21, this natural product, known for ages for its gustatory and medicinal properties, being rich in vitamins and minerals, but also for its use as an insecticide, herbicide and fertilizer is still banned in spite of strong opposition; whether sprinkled on the soil or sprayed it is still against the law!
Between a natural solution of diluted nettles and pesticides what is the alternative? – perhaps the answer is a duck, an excellent and "natural" weedkiller! But no, before nettles, as a natural herbicide, can be used we have to wait until the authorities have given their official approval!
Françoise de Lostende
It is almost a month now that the UN conference on climate change – COP 21 – took place and we are wondering today, early in 2016, what influence politicians will have; insofar as we, as winegrowers, are concerned there is a question which is hard to answer: how will we be affected and will future generations have to change the methods of cultivation in Burgundy?
We have all noticed over the last few years how the harvesting date in Burgundy is earlier, in fact 3 weeks in comparison with the seventies; we have lost some traditional markers such as the 100 day rule, the timelapse between full bloom and harvesting.
A positive feature, however, is the better sanitary condition of the grape and less grey mold.
It has also been observed that the sugar content level is reached far more easily: as chaptalization to 1.5 degrees is permitted in our area this may no longer be necessary in future; but what about the level of acidity, so important for the conservation of our wines?
Experts have forecasted higher yields which may not be in keeping with the required quality of the wine: in a normal year some yields have increased by 50% since 1994 but this has not yet been verified for our area.
The reasons are an increase in CO2 in the atmosphere together with the vitality of the vine as well as higher temperatures giving more bloom; because the time between the grape harvest and when the leaves fall is longer, the capacity of the vine to stock nutrients is greater.
The resistance to disease is an important matter in view of more frequent oidium and infections attacking the wood of the vine ; there are cases of "flavescence dorée" spread by a leafhopper insect as it moves along.
It would seem that the better the maturity of the grape, the better the vintage: however, it appears that the sugar content increases faster than the aromatic substances and as nights are less cool, the question is what impact this could have on the aromatic qualities of the wine.
Should we believe that the intrinsic features of Burgundy wines are threatened? This is another difficult question to answer.
Some climatologists talk about displacing the winegrowing areas; some claim that climate conditions of the seventies have now moved northwards by 100 km. Does this mean that Burgundy wines will be produced in the Champagne district?
To conclude, where is the truth in all these matters? But climate is certainly not the only thing to be considered: the physical nature and the soil of the land are just as crucial together with the sheer skill of the winegrower.