2016

All’s well that ends well…more or less.


Following several years of low yields owing to hailstorms in 2012,2013 and 2014, it was a relief to have a calmer year – in advance but exceptionally sunny - for the 2015 vintage; this year enabled both us and the vine to return to more normal conditions.

The superb summer in 2015 was succeeded by an equally unusual winter – the hottest since 1900 for the period December/February – and fortunately,  cooler weather in March slowed down vegetation growth which was appearing to be too far in advance.

The early budding stage finally took place mid-April meaning that the year 2016 was in accordance with the last 10- year average.

Towards the end of the month there was a colder and damp spell with very low morning temperatures culminating in a rare “black frost” during the night 26/27 April; this was caused by an increase in hygrometrics   through some rainfall in the daytime of 26 April followed by a mass of cold air with clear sky overnight and then a magnifying effect by the morning sunlight.  Very quickly, the young buds with some of their tiny leaves at that time started to turn brown but  the extent of the damage could only be assessed after a few days: most of the region was hit to different degrees and even within the same plot.

In our domain the sectors most concerned were Beaune Longbois, Beaune Grèves, Monthelie Jouères, Chassagne Montrachet Abbaye de Morgeot; other sectors were less affected and Beaune Clos des Mouches  was entirely spared.

Vegetation growth recovered gradually on the vines hit by frost – after 3/4 weeks for Beaune Longbois; our main preoccupation no longer became the harvest but the survival of the vine and its capacity to produce sufficient branch growth for the following year.

In addition to this hardship , excessive rainfall in the spring of 2016 made it difficult to work the soil mechanically and we had to resort to hoeing under each vine and counter the weed growth proliferated with the high humidity.

Conditionsc were also conducive to cryptogamic diseases and an exceptionally high rate of mildew infections and their intensity (30 counted over 25 days of rain in May and June); we also had to react on several occasions and protect the foliage in all our plots and particularly in those where the vegetation growth rate had been retarded by frost.

The wet spring conditions however, were good for microbic activity in the soil releasing minerals for vine growth: hence, the vines developed quickly necessitating hard work in debudding and tying up complicated by the irregular vegetation growth of the vines which were hit by frost.

Return of sunny conditions early June was a relief for the critical stage of flowering, spread over a period from 12 to 25 June depending on plots; at this time it seemed that the 2016 vintage would be late with a variable level of yield but difficult to predict on account of the different degree of maturity of each vine.

Summer settled- in early July reducing the risks of mildew- which could have been difficult to contain if the wet weather had continued – and keeping the foliage at the high standard vital for the late maturity predicted; vegetation growth progressed well and the good condition of the young leaves meant that we could almost forget our previous problems.

The spring frost caused vine growth to be staggered over time such that it was necessary to tie the branches several times; to avoid the risks of mildew and reduce the effects of  oidium and botrytis, work on thinning the vine leaves was limited to give just enough breathing space for the grape clusters.

The high temperatures in July, ranging  from 35° to 37°, meant that we had to watch out for scorching  which started to show on the more exposed grape clusters.

In contrast to the dull spring, the summer of 2016 was particularly dry (8 days of rain over July and August) and sunny (15% above normal) which made up for lost time in growth but finally resulted in some stress preventing the veraison process from starting until the first half of August; these weather conditions also gave rise to oidium outbreaks which although late were nevertheless important.

Taking into account the extremes, both from  vine growth and climatic points of view, it was feared that this year the maturing process would be irregular and drawn out: when monitored on 1 September the pinot noir was ahead of the chardonnay forecasting the harvest for end September; in spite of the dry conditions the sugar content was progressing well.

Heavy rain (60 to 80mm) around 18 September was a godsend, much needed moisture for the vine and the grape for which the thick skins acted as a barrier against botrytis, which could be harmful at that stage.

Return of the fine weather enabled the vines to mature evenly and those hit by the spring frost, with little fruit, were able to recover very quickly.

The grape harvest on our domain started on 23 September with the pinot noir from the Clos des Mouches and finishing with the chardonnay from those plots most retarded, in Meursault.

The crop yield for the year which had been so difficult to estimate and had given us much concern, finally turned out better than expected even though we will not be able to produce any Beaune Longbois.

 

Red wines:

The sanitary condition of the grapes was good requiring little sortation and some full bunches were added to the vats, well filled because we had under-estimated the crop harvest.

Good colour was extracted from the thick skins; we took care to adapt the maceration process to the different conditions of the grapes and avoid extracting the vegetation tannins from the late picking: this was done by extending the contact time rather than the number of actions and by limiting cap punching.

The wines are good in colour, with fresh red fruit aromas, well balanced in the mouth, delicate and brisk with good tannin potential;because of the high temperatures during the grape maturing process the malic acid content was limited but this should not change much the nature of the wine after the malolactic fermentation.

White wines:

Harvested after the reds,  the white grapes needed little sorting on account of the good sanitary condition; the alcoholic fermentation in cask is left to run following  pressing and static settling of the must.

The alcoholic fermentation will last several weeks on account of the cool , end season temperatures.

The wines have good citrus notes, pure and vivacious in the mouth and after raising in cask they will become round and elegant.  

 

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BERTHELEMOT : Great wines from Burgundy - 21190 MEURSAULT
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