We’ll all be happy to turn the page “2020” at midnight on December 31st, in spite of the many uncertainties that will remain. While everyone has been rightfully focused on the global social and economic disruption of the Coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 wine harvest has been enormously troubling for many of our colleagues. It’s been heart-breaking to hear firsthand their experiences, and our hearts go out to each and every one of them. And yet, for us the 2020 vintage is one of the rare sources of satisfaction in this complicated context.
First of all, our teams have remained in good health and I thank everyone for their loyalty, their solidarity and their discipline in respecting the safety instructions. The guidelines were sometimes restrictive, but in the end, they made it possible to preserve everyone’s health and to get the job done on time without sacrificing our qualitative ambitions.
Nature blessed us with a very beautiful harvest. We’re the first to be surprised, given the stress that 2019 put on the vines with its extreme temperatures and poor rainfall. No “climatic accident” disrupted our neck of the woods, and the conditions were such that all grape varieties and all vineyards have responded well. In fact, certain vineyards even had to be “relieved” of loads that were too generous to achieve the desired level of quality.
A much warmer-than-average start to the year led to very early budding (10 days early) and a very vigorous growth spurt accentuated that early start. Flowering was already well underway by mid-May and during the ripening phase of summer, day temperatures were more modest than in recent years and nights cooler. Rainfall, although moderate, was sufficient because well distributed at times when the vines needed it most (April-June).
These favorable vineyards conditions created not only an early start for the harvest, but above all, a convergence of ripeness of most grape varieties and therefore an exceptionally early end of the harvest. As of September 18th, the harvest was practically finished! Bringing in the the grapes was “Fast & Furious” with its share of challenges. Working two shifts of 8 hours, seven days a week, the team really gave it their all, with the additional difficulties due to the constraints of Coronavirus. The large daily grape intakes during a still hot period greatly taxed our refrigeration capacity, but luckily, we were able to use the cold storage of our fruit business, and after 48 hours of chilling grapes could enter the cellar at 2 °C.
The first impressions of the vintage are excellent across the board: fresh fruit, dynamic juice and good balance. Bizarrely, for each vat, the first lab results gave us extremely low levels of acidity, which didn’t correspond to what we were tasting. We decided to trust our palate and offer no corrections. After the start of the fermentation, everything came back to normal naturally. To this day, I still do not fully understand this phenomenon, but it confirms that in our vocation, despite the progress of science, we must always rely on our convictions, our palate and listen to our intuition.
We’re tasting a lot of elegance in the wines, perhaps the signature of the vintage, but also maybe due to the choices we’ve made to not push ripeness and to go easy on extractions. Our extensive work in the vineyard coupled with the growing maturity of our vineyards gives us grapes that are more and more expressive and balanced, which allows us today to gradually ease off winemaking interventions. As usual, we vinified with indigenous yeast and without SO2 and for the red wines we did a bunch of whole-cluster. We’re seeing that the signature of each terroir is becoming more marked and the diversity of finished wines we get is really fascinating.
The reds are very colorful, with fresh aromatics, sometimes enhanced with a touch of herbal spice due to our use of whole-cluster, and wonderful depth and texture. Even though the macerations are still underway, I think the palate will be more about elegance than power (slightly less alcohol) and the grain of tannins will be very fine. The precision of our “élevage” will be key to finishing these beautiful cuvées.
The whites and rosés are lively, particularly the Grenaches. The Roussannes and Viogniers are very approachable, without the overwhelming opulence they usually have at this stage. Lots of class and balance! It will be a vintage focused on freshness with almost Burgundian accents.
Today, this harvest is our ray of sunshine for 2020!
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