Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Vintage update II

A month ago I wrote that August and September were the all-important months in making the quality of a vintage. Well, August is almost done and to be honest, it has been grim – about 2ºC cooler, and already 40% wetter, than average. Thank goodness the forecast is perfect for at least the next week.And the longer-term forecasts seem to suggest that our weather is going to be dominated by high pressure until at least the 8th September, so there is hope yet!

The vines themselves are coping pretty well with the weather. Depending on the vineyard the bunches are between about 70% and 95% black, which I reckon is almost 4 weeks behind last year. There is also notable variation from vine to vine, within the same vineyard, which is hardly the hallmark of a great vintage.

However, there is far less botrytis (grey rot) than the equivalent stage last year, or even in 2006. Also the grapes are no longer susceptible to the two other major fungal threats (oidium and downy mildew) so all spraying is long finished. That’s not to say oidium and mildew weren’t an issue this year! In particular the late-season invasion of oidium was impressive for its virulence – in my experience second only to 2004 (the Burgundian gold-standard for oidium).

I’m expecting to harvest somewhere between the 27th September and 5th October, and am delighted to have large, flexible team ready to pick when the grapes demand!