The year 2022, with its early start for plants, skimpy amounts of rainfall and long period of hot weather, was a reflection of recent years and probably of those to come. The climatic conditions were trying for all living things (plants as well as animals, including us)! Thankfully, once again, the vines proved their resilience in the face of adversity.
After a winter of moderate temperatures and barely any rainfall, budburst was earlier than usual and in the vineyard parcels that were victim to last year’s frost, the baby clusters were abundant. The harvest potential looked promising.
A warm, dry spring followed, accelerating the vines’ growth and development. Fruit set (fertilization of the flowers that become the fruit), and the limited need for intervention (given the perfect sanitary conditions), were appreciated by all. And yet, as always in precocious years, and despite our anticipation, we fell slightly behind in our vineyard work.
Summer also arrived early, in May temperatures hovered around 30°C (85°F). The development of the vines continued to accelerate, accentuating our delay. In June, temperatures continued to climb and in July, an unusually long heat wave arrived, with days that were blazing hot and nights that barely cooled down. By mid-August, the annual rainfall was coming in at 150 mm, versus an average annual rainfall of 650 mm. The young vineyards held up thanks to irrigation.
We worked long hours in this dreadful heat and I thank our teams for their pluck and tenacity in the face of what was arduous work.
We started harvesting our whites the second week of August, making it the earliest pick ever. Given the climatic conditions, we were pleasantly surprised by moderate sugar levels and balanced acidity levels. Thanks to our favorable maritime microclimate, the grapes kept a very fresh fruit signature that we chose to preserve by fermenting with native yeasts, in absence of added sulphites. We also chose rapid settling (a clarification of the juice by eliminating solid particles, like yeasts, grape skin, and pips from the must) after fermentation to keep the mouthfeel fresh and bright.
We continued at the end of August with the Syrah and Grenache rosés. It was essential to harvest at night and to have access to cold storage (thanks to our stone fruit activity), because the nights were too warm. As with the whites, we noted moderate sugars and balanced acidities and opted for the same winemaking choices.
The harvest of the reds began at the beginning of September and was interrupted several times by storms bringing much needed rain for the vines to complete the red grapes’ phenolic maturities (the maturity of the tannins and other compounds, which bring structure and color). This year’s reds are violet in hue, a little less intense than usual, but with fresh fruit and a soft core. Our use of whole-cluster particularly benefited this vintage. The wines can be appreciated young and will deliver great balance and body.
The big surprise of the 2022 vintage is our wines’ moderate alcohol levels. My hypothesis is that our vineyard practices coupled with sufficient yields and a favorable microclimate, thankfully enabled the vines to maintain their balance through this unusually hot and dry year. Nature, full of resources, will always surprise us!
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