Sunday, January 24 2016

The 2014 vintage

As it's a new year, let's take a few moments to reflect on the 2014 vintage.

Wintertime, warm and dry...

After an autumn with no storms or significant rain, the 2014 winter proved to be exceptionally warm and dry. Not one morning of frost, nor one day of rain, springlike temperatures. The soils were so dry that it was not possible to carry out the usual end of winter ploughing.

Springtime, yet more dry weather

Budding took place at the end of March, but with a certain coyness... As the vines had not been exposed to winter, they had not really rested. The lack of water meant that there was nothing to encourage them to rouse themselves.... A light rain at the start of April at least allowed the soils to open a little, there were a few drops an May but nothing in June. By June 30 th the total rainfall in the last 9 months was less than 150mm and that would have consequences for the vines. The vine stocks have sprouted very little. Flowering was very irregular even across one cépage, the wood of the syrah bunches did not harden until June and the grapes had difficulty in forming bunches. To tell the truth, I thought we wouldn't be able to harvest this year.... And then summer arrived...

Summertime, a little rain to save the vintage

Summer, not too hot and studded with a few storms, allowed the grapes to achieve maturity. Normally the vine grows in springtime and accumulates enough energy to allow the grapes to grow in summer. This year the vines had to draw on their reserves and and make do with the little rainfall which did arrive.

Harvest time

Harvest began on August 25 th and finished on September 28th. Even if we had been spared from the heavy rains which had fallen elsewhere in the region, harvest would be difficult after the year's weather. To complete the story of the year ; given the lack of wood growth which had to be pruned this year, we will need at least two years for the vegetation to recover.

And in the vines...

In 2014 we planted more than 200 trees and shrubs around the vines (almond, elm, elder, pomegranate, Sainte Lucie cherry, dog rose, service, roses,....) many varieties which will gradually embellish the countryside and attract birds and insects. We also planted a hundred olive trees to complete the collection. If all goes well, we will be able to produce enough oil to be able to share it... In 2015, we will plant a parcel of Carignan Blanc grafted on root stock supplied by the Conservatory of the Aude Chamber of Agriculture. And, of course, we will continue to plant more trees...

The 2013 Vintage

A new year, a new vintage. So what happened in 2013 ?

A cold and rainy winter

Cold and rain characterise the winter of 2013.Temperatures were well below average. There was a period of snow in January, which is quite a rarity in the south. The month of March was exceptionally rainy. At the end of winter, budding was around ten days later than usual.

Spring is delayed

From budding to flowering, the cold and rain returned. At the start of May, there was a slight softening of the weather, with more pleasant temperatures allowing the vegetation to flourish. By contrast, the end of the month was very chilly (the coldest since 1950). Under these conditions, the time delay at the start of the spring was never caught up. Flowering began at the start of June with a delay of more than ten days.

Good weather arrives with summer

With temperatures recovering at the end of June, the vines were finally able to use the reserves of water stored since autumn and to grow with more vigour. However, coulure and millerandage (damage to flowers and young grapes) were seen affecting all grape varieties but especially the grenache vines. Summer was almost perfect. The temperatures were high, but not a heatwave, there were small storms at the end of July and beginning of August, the nights were cool, all these factors made for a vintage of real quality. The change in colour of the red grapes still took place ten days later than average but the grapes were beautiful and the vines were in great condition.

Harvest begins

They started on September 11 th , still ten days later than normal. The harvest was rather condensed, the late ripening grapes were almost mature at the same time as the more precocious varieties. There was no rain and the vinification passed without any real problems, well balanced musts, finesse and a beautiful freshness being evident. 2013 proclaims itself as a really lovely vintage... And without any added SO 2 as ever...

Work progresses in the vines

In 2013 we continued to graft more Carignan with stock from various nurseries. We also grafted some Aramon Noir and Aramon Gris as well as Clairette Musquée onto the American rootstock planted three years ago. A lovely parcel of gobelet vines is starting to take shape. In 2014, we will start the planting of trees and shrubs around the vines to improve the biodiversity of the area (we expect 1000 trees and plants in three years). The vines will be able to develop in a healthier space. Like a haven of greenery...

The 2012 vintage

Whilst the vines take a deserved rest before they start their work again, let's take a moment to review the year just past to better understand the wines of the 2012 vintage. Here are a few points of note :

Springtime in winter :

After the plentiful rains of autumn, the start of winter reserved spring like weather for us with high temperatures for the time of year but notably a lack of rainfall. Judge for yourself, we went through two and a half months without a single millimetre of rain. Has this ever been seen since weather observations began ? Consequently, when the first shower fell during the night at the start of February, it was a moment of such relief which caused me to fall back into a deep and restful sleep. Nature had almost lost its head... Such that at the start of January the first of the fig flowers began to show their face and when one made the first cuts of pruning, one felt that the sap was not far from flowing. The cold snap at the start of February (one of the hardest for 50 years) was a reminder to nature that winter was still present and that it was still necessary to rest and recover. From St Valentine's Day, the thaw began with temperatures which were rather high for the time of year and budding took place successfully.

Autumn in springtime

The months of April and May proved to be wet and cold. If the rainfall was healthy in terms of restoring reserves of water, the quite cool temperatures rather delayed the vines' vegetation... Let's remind ourselves that we are in the south : the Mistral and Tramontane winds dry out moisture. Unlike other wine producing regions we were to be one of the rare regions where mildew caused relatively little damage. Flowering took place almost two weeks late.. And then, at the end of May, we had summer temperatures.

A cool, damp early summer and then, lovely weather arrived...

Even if June and the start of July were damp and cool, the summer turned out rather hot with little rainfall. Hot temperatures during the day with cool nights, these are ideal conditions for the development of oïdium which became the significant event of this vintage at our domaine... Throughout July the pressure was as fierce as it has ever been. Such that where we would only carry out one treatment in July we were obliged to undertake three treatments to save the crop... But, in the end, the grapes were in a lovely state for the vendanges which began a week later than usual...

Harvest time...

The vendanges lasted almost a month.. It was a vintage of creativity, inspiration, trials and experiments... Different forms of vinification for the same parcel, several stages of maturity, there was a large range of tastes, aromas, flavours and colours at the time of marrying together the different wines. And not one cuvée saw any SO 2 .