The time of year is fast approaching when we head out to the vineyards for the eagerly anticipated harvest. I am sure you’ll all be keen to follow the progress as we pick the grapes which will be used to make your Virtual Winemaker wine. Before that happens though, I thought I’d give you a quick update on what’s happening in vineyard at the moment and as we prepare ourselves for the busiest time in the vineyard calendar!
The weather has been stable and warm in the Southern Rhône throughout August and early September 2013, as a ridge of high pressure has settled comfortably over the Valley. However, 2013 is shaping up as a vintage that will need considerable hard work, and even ingenuity, if we are to produce good wines. Luck, in the form of the weather, will also be needed.
Putting aside the low crop levels, there are several other issues to contend with. There is a lot of vegetation this year due to abundant water reserves, something that we’ve not seen for a few years. The plants’ energy is heading not only towards the fruit, hence the need for work in the vineyard to cut back leaves and excess shoots or spurs, and expose the bunches to help the fruit ripen. Also, 2013 is on a knife edge with varying degrees of ripeness and lower degrees of potential alcohol than at this time last year.
As harvest 2013 gradually draws closer we’re hoping that late September onwards will be stable, marked by high pressure, the Mistral wind and a lack of rain. In such conditions the already limited crop could concentrate, lose acidity, and gain in degree of alcohol.
Unfortunately, the Grenache Noir grapes have been ravaged by coulure this year – this is where the flowers have failed to convert into fruit – and are taking a long time to ripen. The veraison – when the grapes change colour – has been extremely protracted, despite the warm to hot, and largely dry weather. Yields on Grenache therefore will be significantly down by as much as 40% compared to last vintage.
On the plus side however, the Syrah, Carignan and Mourvedre grapes are looking fine (but the harvest will be later than in previous vintages). The current weather is a great help with ripening – mornings are currently around 10°C and the afternoons around 26-27°C. The Syrah harvest should start next week and then we’ll continue with the other varieties into October. We’ll look forward to keeping you updated throughout!