August 26 2009 : 2009: perhaps the best of the "9s" ?
There’s a proverb that says: "Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched". So let’s wait for the start of the harvest, which has been set for 27 August for the Beaujolais and Beaujolais Villages, to give us a clearer view of this 2009 vintage, which probably be of higher quality than those of 2003 and 2005.
The harvest has an outstanding quality potential. A winegrower said to me at the end of July: "My grandfather used to say that August is always a reflection of the weather in May. August 2009 should therefore be as fine as May – sunny and hot". His grandfather was right; we have had what must be the sunniest August in the last sixty years. Will it be better than the wonderful 1949? Quite possible, as things stand at the moment.
Let us remain prudent and on our guard, as every day is a new day that has a great effect in terms of maturity. We can achieve the sublime, as has been the case in the last fortnight, where we have been gaining 1 degree by volume every 3 days. Many winegrowers in the early-maturing area have requested a dispensation in order to start their harvest earlier.
From Tuesday 25 August we have seen groups of pickers in the terroirs that are most advanced in terms of maturity. Many parcels already have an alcoholic content of over 12°. It is difficult to make good, sound "Primeur" wines with wines at 13° or more. To obtain good aromas and good fruit, one should not wait for overmaturity, which can sometimes be helpful in making wines to lay down but not for "Primeurs". This is why we too are opening our Vinification Site for 25 August in order to vinify the production of a few contributors who, according to our latest parcel visits, were already over 12° at 21 August.
Also as a result of the parcel visits carried out by our technicians, Emeric, Béatrice, Marie-Laure, Chloé, Alexis, Quentin and our Site Manager Denis Lapalu, the pre-harvest meeting with our 100 winegrowers has been fixed for Wednesday 26 August. Depending on the results of our maturity inspections, we will open our 2009 vinification campaign on 28 August.
Last week was very hot, between 32 and 40°. Thursday 20 August saw record temperatures (higher than in 2003) with a suffocating south wind. At the foot of the vines we registered a temperature of 42° in both shade and sun.
For most of the Beaujolais, the following morning was pleasanter, with a beneficial rain from 7.30 am that brought an average of 12mm of badly-needed water. Unfortunately, a small part of the Beaujolais was hit not by rain but by hail, which struck the same villages as last year: Vauxrenard, Emeringes, Jullié, Juliénas, St Amour and Leynes.
Though the damage is much less than last year, it is still heartbreaking for the winegrowers to be hit by the devastating plague of hail, especially just before the harvest.
Two hours after Friday’s rain, the sun shone brightly from late morning on. Saturday and Sunday were also very fine and hot, with a North wind that brought a touch of fresh air. Ideal weather for achieving perfect maturity.
So that’s how the 2009 harvest is looking in the Beaujolais. We could not have expected better in terms of quality and polyphenol maturity. The quantity should probably be close to appellation yields, although a good number of winegrowers are already saying that yields will be down as a result of the drought (worse than in 2003). Our assessment following our visits to the parcels we are monitoring suggests that the potential is lower than the basic yield for our Beaujolais AOC, i.e. 52hl per hectare. Depending on the weather and the sector, we should have a harvest of between 43 and 48hl per hectare.
We are highly delighted and satisfied with the quality potential of this harvest, which, as I said at the start of these news from the Beaujolais, will perhaps be the best of the "9" vintages since the famous 1949 and excellent 1959, 1969, 1999, …
I will be in touch again soon to give you news of progress with the harvest and some details of our initial tasting of this 2009 vintage, which looks to be a very promising one.
Yours in Beaujolais.
Le Beaujolais Nouveau