2011 has been a very peculiar year. Throughout the year, virtually all of France’s wine regions were reporting very advanced vine growth and early harvests (Bordeaux, Loire, Languedoc among others), and some of those predictions came true while other areas are now reporting perfectly normal harvest dates.
Some people are harvesting early
Some readers never scroll down to read the whole post, so I’ll start off by saying some regions are harvesting early this year. And some microclimates within the Languedoc Roussillon are significantly early as well.
photo: Pech d'Andre
You can see that harvests have started in August in various parts of l’Aude and the Roussillon. Michel Gassier in the Costieres de Nimes (the part of Rhone closest to Languedoc) harvested his Vigonier on the 18th and 19th of August.
Also, a quick glance at the blogs from this year and last year show some regions are very far ahead. Champagne Tarlant reported a 27 day difference between 2010’s first day of harvest and 2011’s first day of harvest. Pretty epic. And according to Terre de Vin, the earliest harvest since 1822!
Cremant d’Alsace is also a couple weeks ahead of schedule while still Alsacian whites seem to have normalized according to Harpers.
Some winemakers are only slightly early
As Carol Emmas mentioned in Harpers, many regions overestimated the advancement of their vines. Especially the Languedoc Roussillon seems to have normalized its harvest dates. Emmas quotes Pascal Fulla and me and we seem to agree about harvest dates being pretty normal this year. Emmas also talks to Gavin Quinney at Bauduc who says harvest will only be 10-12 days early (a significant drop from the 3 week advance earlier in the year).
It might be interesting to look at the specific areas where these winemakers are. Pascal Fulla and I are both in relatively special areas of the Languedoc. Tiny appellations that are known for slower ripening than the lower plains of the region. So maybe that’s why our harvest dates don’t seem so exceptional while other people in the region are still looking at very early harvests.
I’d also point out that some of my varietals are very far ahead and others aren’t at all. So the global harvest date doesn’t necessarily change even though some later varietals are coming in early.
Blogs are awesome
I guess this post got really nerdy. But if there is a general interest point to take away, it’s that blogs are cool. We can check in with winemakers and get real updates about weather in vineyards around the world. We have access to so much information and we get true insight into the vineyard’s growth cycle. Sometimes that information can be misleading, but if you’re interested, then you can learn at the same pace as the winemakers.