I am always wary about making vintage predictions before our vigneron friends have fully gathered all their grapes, but if the weather conditions remain as favourable as they have been to date in 2015, we could be in for something rather special.
In Burgundy the news in the Côte de Beaune is very encouraging with some growers already having started their harvest. Claude de Nicolay at Domaine Chandon de Briailles quotes “The vintage looks very healthy, maybe low yields in juice because of the heat”, but I am sure she would much prefer this than low yields as a result of hail which devastated her vineyards in 2012 and 2013. In the Côte de Nuits at Domaine de L’Arlot Geraldine Godot says, “The vineyards are doing really well, the perfect balance between sun and rain this month, perfect for the maturation of good quality grapes”. The majority of growers in the Côte de Nuits plan to start in earnest in the latter part of this week and next week.
Sadly the news from Chablis is a little less positive: the healthy vineyards are in fine fettle, but some vineyards were devastated by hail last week, most notably Grand Cru Les Clos and 1er Cru Montée de Tonnerre, where hail stones the size of golf balls ripped through the ripening berries and bunches. Fortunately the majority of our domaines have a good spread of vineyards so the impact will not be as devastating as it could have been.
Further south, Guillaume Gonet of Font de Michelle positively purred down the phone when I spoke to him about the impending vintage in Châteauneuf du Pape. He really feels they are on the brink of something very special indeed if the weather remains good through to the end of the harvest.
In Bordeaux Olivier Bernard, president of Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux and proprietor of Dne de Chevalier, is equally positive. He quotes the months of May, June and July as some of the hottest and driest on record, meaning the development of the grapes was extremely advanced. Fortunately August has been a little cooler with some rainfall restoring vigour back to the vines. The first set of white grapes were picked at the end of August, and for many the harvest is now coming to an end and the view is that the wines are of extremely high quality. The red grapes will be picked at the end of the month and early October, and the potential is for a vintage of huge class.
The final stages are always a nerve-racking time for wine makers, but we are all wishing for a vintage of real quality in 2015, and the indications are that if this good weather continues this is what they will certainly have in France this year.