the final entries for 2007 Saint-Joseph red and white and for 2007 Saint-Péray have been completed under the 2007 Northern Rhône sidebar, and both are compared as usual to 2006. At Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a full entry of the part vineyard owner, mainly merchant Brotte, Père Anselme has been done, along with a refresh of Château La Nerthe, including older red and white vintages. The Domaine des Relagnes, part of which is now Domaine Olivier Hillaire, has been entered, while the the Brotte Châteauneuf Domaine Barville has been given its own entry, with wines tasted back to 1999. The Brotte-owned Château de Bord at Laudun, and at Cairanne, their partnership Domaine Grosset and the wonderfully traditional Domaine les Hautes Cances (that Col du Débat - well, fasten your seat belts) have also been entered, along with Domaine de la Renjarde at Massif d`Uchaux (Nerthe connections there). Also, relative newcomer Domaine de Givaudan on the west bank Côtes du Rhône.
2009 SO FAR
CONDRIEU: Paul Amsellem, Domaine Georges Vernay: "our winter was a real winter, with cold, likewise the spring with good rainfall. We have seen summer temperatures between 30°C and 35°C. The vines are in magnificent shape, with no illnesses, and the rain we needed fortunately came on 25 August. We are a shade ahead, probably starting on 12 September - maybe ten days ahead of usual." 26 August.
Philippe Faury, Domaine Faury at Chavanay: "we have very pretty vines, we lack water, though. It`s very dry, has been very hot, no hail. We may start around 10 September." 3 August.
CORNAS: Vincent Paris: "the season started very well - it was quite dry, with rain when it was needed - for example, when the grapes were forming in April and May, including at night. Flowering was 10 days ahead of normal - around 20-25 May, and happened very quickly and well. Since June there has been less rain, and virtually none since the start of July. It is now very dry, and we have had to cut back some of the crop. Anyone who hasn`t cut back crop will have double the quantity this year. Rain would be welcome now - once a week in the night would be ideal! We had 5mm last night, 2 August, and it has fallen from the 30s°C to 23°C today, 3 August. The forecast is for the heat to resume back to around 32° from 6 August. In early July we had hot days up to 37°C. Our young vines are suffering a little. It is a year when the tannins could be a bit hard as a result of the lack of rain." 3 August 2009.
CÔTE-RÔTIE: Brigitte Roch of Clusel-Roch, while preparing a salad for the harvest team: "good quantity - 38-40 hl/ha for our Condrieu, and probably around 37 hl/ha for our Côte-Rôtie. We harvested the Viognier 1 September, and started our Syrah crop on Viallière today; when we finish that tomorrow, we will wait until 15 September, next Monday, before re-starting. On my last journey I brought in grapes of very good colour, with good total acidity, at 4 gm/litre - that was from 1985 Syrah from Viallière. It`s 28°C today; we had around 20mm in early September, after we had started on Condrieu." 8 September.
Jean-Paul Jamet, Domaine Jamet: "very good so far. There was an early start to the cycle, so now that we have cooler weather, the vines are still ahead, maybe by 8 days, having been 2 weeks ahead in mid-summer. The only minor defects have been a tiny amount of mildew and black rot. Our veraison (grapes turning colour) is well advanced now. We have had drops of rain here and there, so there is no stress on the vines and we have hardly had to drop any grapes. We would be ready for harvesting 15 September, but I would as usual like to wait a bit longer than that. Our last rain of consequence was about 25-30 mm (about 1 inch) in early July. Now it is cloudy and cool - 23-25°C - and 2009 is the third year in a row like those we used to have in the 1980s - just a few hot episodes rather than searing heat. The hottest days were a few in July at 35°C." 3 August.
CROZES-HERMUTAGE: Alain Graillot: "we harvested our white crop on 1 and 2 September, with yields better than expected, around 40 hl/ha, all very correct. We started the reds on 8 September - the Syrah is magnificent, ripe, free of any rot, good, ripe yellow stems. It is not a misery. One of my non-scientific vintage indices is that I`ve been getting telephone calls from growers in Burgundy, the south of France, Spain. When the vintage is poor, my telephone is silent." 9 September.
SAINT-JOSEPH: Pascal Marthouret: "2009 is good so far - the vines are magnificent. The old vines are OK, but given the lack of rain, the younger vines are beginning to show a little yellow on their leaves. We were behind in the spring. But now I`d say we are in advance. I would expect us to pick in the beginning of September, against the 20-25 September in 2008." late July 2009.
Philippe Faury, Domaine Faury: there is a low crop for the whites this year - the Marsanne and the Roussanne, like some people, like to rest from time to time. The reds have needed cutting back for less crop, but the vines on the slopes have felt the lack of rain. Our old vines are in good shape. We are set for a good vintage if all continues well." 3 August.
CHÂTEAUNEUF-du-PAPE: Michel Gonnet, Domaine Font de Michelle: "We are ending today, having started on some of our Châteauneuf whites on 28 August. The crop is very small, but the grapes are top quality. There isn`t the degree of 2003 or 2007 thanks to the mid-September rain. We had 60 mm (2.4 inches) here, and 30 mm in the Gard at our domaine at Domazan on 16th, with another 4 mm on 17 September here. We therefore waited until 25 September before re-starting at Châteauneuf. The polyphenolic ripening was unblocked by the rain, especially on the Grenache." 1 October.
Patrick Brunel, Château de la Gardine: "We end tomorrow, having started on our Roussanne at Châteauneuf on 26 August - we could even have picked it 4 days earlier, in effect, since it was very fast to ripen. We had good rain, around 37-45 mm (1.5+ inches) on 16 September, which lowered the degree and encouraged the polyphenolic ripening. The quality is very good, the yield is light. September has been hot, a true Indian summer. Now it is hot and cloudy." 1 October.
Michel Lançon, Domaine de la Solitude: "A small crop for us - we suffered from a lot of coulure (failure of flowers to convert into fruit) due to the Mistral during flowering, and we are looking at maybe 25 hl/ha for the reds. The quantity on the whites - the Roussanne and the Grenache blanc - is good, around 30-33 hl/ha. We had picked the Cinsault by 3 September, and then are pausing for 4 to 5 days. Ripening has been irregular, with the drought and blockages having their effect." 3 September.
Daniel Brunier, Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe: "it`s healthy - we have a good crop for now, there aren`t too many grapes, either. Some zones, especially those with young vines, would benefit from rain, since July was dry and there was a lot of north wind which dehydrated the vines. We may start around Monday 7 September. The Syrah may be ripening ahead of its usual cycle, also in relation to the Grenache this year." 3 August.
GIGONDAS: Jean-Pierre Meffre, Domaine de Saint-Gayan:"2009 is a very particular year - not homogenous, with some areas very much in advance - for instance, some growers started to pick their white grapes on 26-27 August, while others find their crop lacks degree. I picked my white crop the first week of September - for my white Côtes du Rhône. The Viognier was at 15° and most unusually, the Bourboulenc, which I normally pick around 10 October at 11° or a little more, I picked a month early this year - at 12°. Some Grenache for my Côtes du Rhône is at 16°.
One of the important factors this year is there have been storms, but so localised as to make any easy harvesting decision impossible. Where there has been rain, the vines have never paused in their growing cycle, they have high degrees, they`re healthy, and can be picked now. For instance, at my northern end of Gigondas I had two rainfalls of 15mm (0.6 inch) in July-August, whereas at the southern end, towards Vacqueyras, they only had one 10mm and one 5mm fall.
At present, the days are 30°C, the nights 10°C - that`s good for the anthocyanins (anti-oxidants, colour agents) and thus for the colour of the wines, but no rain is forecast in the next few days. I estimate we are losing 10% of our juice per week with this drought - and that is on a crop that is already limited in size. I worry about excess concentration of tannins. I will probably destem all my Côtes du Rhône and Rasteau red crop this year; with my 90-100 year old Grenache at Gigondas, I will probably keep the stems. There will be some superb reds, but the year is less good for the rosés and the whites." 8 September.
Céline Chauvet, Domaine du Grapillon d`Or: "it is very good for now; we had a lot of winter rain, flowering and the veraison went well, and we are about a week ahead - say, the 15-20 September, against the 25-27 September of 2008. There was a rainfall of about 13mm (1/2 inch) on the night of August 1st, followed by a 50 km an hour Mistral, so everything is in good shape. There is a normal quantity in prospect." 4 August.
TAVEL: Fabrice Delorme, Domaine de la Mordorée: "impeccable vines, very healthy, we may be 3 or 4 days ahead of usual. There was welcome rain in the winter, a touch of coulure or poor fruit formation on the Grenache during flowering, and yields might be a little down on a year such as 2007. In June there were one or two hail storms in Saze, Domazan and Saint Laurent-des-Arbres, but nothing serious. July was dry and hot, the hottest days around 35-36°C. We had a well-timed rain shower of 8mm (1/3 inch) on the night of 1st August. Now, the 4 August, it is 27°C, and it`s good that recent nights have been fresh, down to 19°C or so. We may start on our whites in the last week of August." 4 August.
CÔTES-du-RHÔNE VILLAGES: Eric Michel, Domaine Cros de la Mûre at Massif d`Uchaux, with vines there and at Gigondas and Châteauneuf-du-Pape: "it`s been good so far, we have had interesting conditions. About 70 mm of rain in early June was important, and boosted the vineyard. This was followed by 45 days of good weather, which allowed the vegetation to develop. There is practically no illness in the vineyard this year. We have had a few storms, but nothing bad. There have been some very hot days. Very precocious - Châteauneuf-du-Pape is 8 days ahead, as are Gigondas and the Massif. If August goes well, we will start to pick the Massif vines in early September. Our Syrah vines are now nearly all red in colour. Yields are normal - there was a small amount of coulure here and there - May wasn`t that hot, so yields are average, but there were a bit fewer bunches on the vines this year. Yesterday, 2 August, we had 10mm of rain, followed by Mistral, so no real effect. 20 mm after 20 August would be ideal, and with the Mistral that could refine the tannins. Today it is 26°C, but previous days have been 30-33°C." 3 August.
CÔTES-du-RHÔNE: in the Gard, David Givaudan of Domaine de Givaudan, whose domaine is the later ripening little Tave valley, west of Laudun, said that he was starting the picking of his white and rosé crop the week of 7 September, and the red grape crop the following week. "Quality is very beautiful," he said. 4 September.
Also from the Gard, west bank of the river, Michel Lançon, Domaine de la Solitude reported: "We started 2009 harvesting on 3 September with our Roussanne; thankfully, we had two rainfalls in the Gard at Sabran in August, one of 12 mm (0.5 inch) and the other 19 mm (0.76 inch), so ripening went ahead smoothly." In August temperatures got to around 40°C." 3 September.
The final entries for 2007 Saint-Joseph red and white and for 2007 Saint-Péray have been completed under the 2007 Northern Rhône sidebar, and both are compared as usual to 2006. At Châteauneuf-du-Pape, a full entry of the part vineyard owner, mainly merchant Brotte, Père Anselme has been done, along with a refresh of Château La Nerthe, including older red and white vintages. The Brotte Châteauneuf Domaine Barville has been given its own entry, with wines tasted back to 1999, while their domaine of Château de Bord at Laudun, and their partnership Domaine Grosset at Cairanne have also been entered, along with Domaine de la Renjarde at Massif d`Uchaux (Nerthe connections there). Also, Domaine de Givaudan on the west bank Côtes du Rhône.