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Feb172013

2012 Vintage Field Reports

2012 was a difficult growing season; fraught with unpredictable weather. Yet, with careful attention and know-how, a vintage of grand results. Here are some first hand accounts of the 2012 year in the vines direct from our producers in Bordeaux, the Southwest, Champagne and Chablis.......

 

 

Marie Vincent-Rochet, Chateau du Grand Bos, Graves

The 2011/12 growing season had been particularly contrary : along the start of the season the vegetative cycle was quite disturbed by cold and rain ; in September it came to a close after a prolonged period of dryness.

Extrememe frosts in February, with temperatures decending to -10°C, and a very rainy spring, resulted in an uneven flowering. The growing season saw normal rainfall only until the 14th of July ; the second half of July, all of August and beginning of September had very little precipitation, except for isolated rains on July 26th and August 15th. This period of 8 or so weeks without rain in mid to late summer were favorable conditions for the maturation of the grapes. The harvest of Sauvignons gris and blanc on the 7th of September attest to that. It was necessary however to wait a bit longer for the reds to mature and choose a harvest date sufficiently late enough achieve the necessary technical and phenolic maturation, and at the same time avoid the first rains and the onset of harmful botrytis. This will be an impact on the quality of wines from this vintage at properties that were less vigilant during this period.

Harvesting required much attention and careful selection in the vines ; in the end the quality was very good, even though of fairly low yield. The whites should be of a comparable quality to 2011 with aromatic richness, roundness of texture and a lovely typicity of varieties. The red wines evidence a success that we dared not hope for ! The merlots are deeply colored, round, with beautiful scents of ripe fruits. The cabernets-sauvignons are also concentrated in color, with a nose of red fruits and notes of pepper.

In this vintage of all possible excesses, our chateaux Grand Bos achieved wines which are at once lush, aromatic and  persistant, that will undoubtedly be approachable young but will also keep for many years. 

Thus the 2012 growing season, which ended in a successful and happy harvest which will result in very good wines. 

 

Mathieu Vieules, Domaine Philemon, Gaillac

In spite of a difficult growing year on a climactic level (a very cold winter, rainy spring),  the health of the vines was exceptionally well maintained, thanks to sustained organic treatments in May and June.

Unlike 2011, the vines suffered less from drought in August and September due to plowing of the topsoil and important water reserves maintained in the soils. During the harvest in September, favorable weather conditions guaranteed a crop of good quality fruit.

The 2012 crop is one of very healthy and quite large berries in spite of a dry season, with good fruit on the palate and an appropriate concentration of tannins. Alcohol levels in the cellar average 13% (levels were 14% in 2010 and 2011).

Le Perlé 2012 is a blend of 3 Gallic varieties : 40%: Muscadelle, 40% Loin de L'oeil et 20% Mauzac, this last grape adding a bit more freshness and complexity. In the coming years, the percentage of Mauzac (now with new vines in production) will increase in the Perlé blend.

La Croix d'Azal 2012, remains as always very Braucol (red fruit, cassis and menthol, all characteristic of Fer Servadou), its evolution in the cellar following its usual course….

Young vines of Prunelard will be in production for the September 2014 harvest.

 

 

Bernard Dumont, Champagne Dumont Pere et Fils, Aube

2012

I will always have a memory of this year of permanent contrast between unfortunate events and other truly happy ones.

During this campaign, our vineyards were subject to all possible aggressions : frost in winter then again in spring, a violent hail on the 7th of June, high winds, a poor fruit set in June, mildew, oidium.

Our long experience was put to a difficult test, and to see the grapes disappear in spite of our efforts was at times dispairing.

However, as have always done our predecessors before us, we must keep faith in Mother Nature. The sun returned at the start of August and stayed until harvest time, perfectly ripening the 2012 grapes. The crop, although of modest quantity, is a largely satifying one of exceptional quality,  and worthy as a great Champagne vintage. The wines are limpid with lovely fruit notes, rich with a long finish, the result of good acidity. In March we will do the blending with the reserve wines of 2011, 2010 and 2009, to be bottled in May. Be ready, in five years time, to taste this rare vintage.

 

The other great satifaction of this vintage, is to have welcomed more than 7,000 visitors to the Domaine, participant in the “Route de Champagne en Fete”, which passed through our village the first week of August: gastronomy, music, expositions, tastings……

 

Frederic Prain, Domaine d'Elise, Chablis

For the 2012 vintage, to be bottled in July 2013, it’s very early to give an opinion…..
All considering, this will be a very good vintage at Domaine d’ELISE because:
- the yields are the desirable level at 58HL/HA
- the quality is excellent
- very ripe (13° at the end of harvest)
- no blight at the Domaine, but at many a others (mildew and oidium)!!!
- No rot this year
Thus, “on paper” it is a very good vintage.

News in the vineyard :

In the spring of 2013 we will have completed a replanting program at the Domaine begun in 2004; over a course of 9 years we have replanted 5 out of our total 13 plus hectares, the final ½ hectare to be planted next month! This project entailed a double objective: one to preserve 8 ha of old vines of recognized quality ; the other objective to create an entirely new vineyard in keeping with techniques of a modern agriculture respecful of the environment.
I prefer to talk not about organic viticulture, but rather a return to the “traditional methods” ; as in the “scraping of the soil” (light ploughing) synonymous with abandoning chemical herbacides. 
The new Chardonnay plants are of a variety better adapted to calcareous soils and produce small berries resistant to rot. The vines are pruned in the simple Guyot method (a single cane with 8/9 buds instead of two), the lowering of yields will permit, through concentration, an improvement in quality.
Once in place, this model vineyard will allow an even more advantagous expression of the terroir.

Harvest, vinification and bottling : 

All good winemakers confirm: the vine makes the wine !
That is where the work is the most difficult. It lasts all year long and requires constant and repeated efforts.The art lies in timing, never being late, no matter what the weather, and then in good management of staff.
The harvest always takes place relatively late, of course taking into consideration the specifics of the Domaine : a high plateau, but of favorable orientation (south/southwest).
We pick our grapes when they are sufficiently ripe to be rich in sugar, but never so much as to compromise that freshness that typifies Chablis.

In the cellar the protocol will be to continue what we are doing.
For the Petit Chablis and the Chablis, the juice is carefully vinified in stainless steel vats and matured on their fine lees for nine months. I leave the wines as untouched as possible to retain their maximum freshness : a single racking , a fining in spring and a simple filtering at bottling.

For the Cuvée Galilée the grapes are the same as the Chablis, but vinification differs ; still in stainless steel but with a regular stirring of the lees. As for the 1er cru “Côte de Léchet” it is vinified entirely in barrel.

2011 :  This vintage began with an extremely precocious development in spring, but could not hold its rythym once summer came.

Spring 2011 was absolutely magnificent, very hot and very dry. Some numbers : 5.2° above average in April, +3,5° in May and only  88 mm of rain over 5 months, a record! As a result bud burst commenced at the very beginning of April, and by the 23rd of May the vines were in full flower.
The emersion of the grapes was entirely beautifully magnificent but things then deteriorated : the months of July and August proved mediocre. The first signs of rot appeared the end of July : but deceptive signs!
So, not to panic, we got through it, approaching even the eternal “vintage of the century”, with the return of the sun in early September. This allowed us, inspite of everything, to gather a beautiful and plentiful crop. The harvest took place over two weeks : between the 7th and 21st of September. I tried to spread out the concentrated part of the picking to happen over several days to get optimal quality. An effort in vain though : not enough sun!
However the grapes in the end reached a ripeness of 12° and the quality is overall good. So, by all accounts it is a correct vintage, even if, over the years, the demands on the winemaker have become insatiable!

2010 :   A great year, I have not yet bottled it……so no use to talk about it for the moment !

Recent Vintages, in the cellar :

2011 :  Following two very beautiful vintages, the fear of seeming deceptive in describing the 2011 is clear. Happily, for fans of the Domaine, the 2011s followed a carefree path in their evolution in the cellar. It’s a little bit the year of “neither….. nor” : neither very ripe, nor very racy ! But, one can’t always live in extremes ! These are pleasing wines of good typicity, ready to drink now while you wait for the magnificent 2012s!

In the wine guides :

The Domaine is listed (and very well noted!) in the two most important wine guides of France:  
-  the CLASSEMENT 2013  DE LA REVUE DU VIN DE FRANCE      
-  the  BETTANE & DESSEAUVE 2013

In England, the famous journalist Oz CLARKE classed my Petit Chablis in the 250 BEST WINES 2012  , I could not  stay silent about this glorious title, England is our best market!

OUR CHABLIS :

PETIT-CHABLIS 2011 :  Very “sharp”, citrus zest on nose, good acidity in the mouth, ending on a mineral note. Light and racy, it is ready now, to be drunk along this coming year. Try it with oysters!

CHABLIS 2011 :  His big brother! Made from riper grapes, it is more structured, with more substance and “chew” ! It will become expressive at the beginning of 2013. Pair with shellfish or a delicately cindered chevre.

CHABLIS 2009 “Cuvée Galilée” :  Great vintage ! It is the very reflection of my terroir, a wine of rocks ! Fine, taught and very mineral, it is vinified to be aged, unlike many other 2009 which are a bit flabby. Stirring the lees (bâtonnage in stainless steel vats), which is specific to this cuvée, enriched the wine and also prolonged its maturation process. It is a wine for connaisseurs.
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