2016’s growing season was exceptionally favorable to the vine. Nature has given us a vintage that won’t soon be forgotten. After a mild and slightly rainy winter, a cool wet spring triggered a somewhat delayed bud break (marking the end of winter dormancy, bud break is the moment when the new leaves push through their protective envelope).
Spring rains allowed the full development of the vine, even though the drier-than-usual winter did not entirely replenished the soil’s water reserves. The frequent showers also provided us a few scares with respect to our younger, more vigorous vines, where containing mildew while remaining true to our commitment to organic farming was challenging.
But as of mid-June, a dream summer arrived. The warm, dry days were accompanied by cool nights, which helped trigger early-on the maturation cycle. The lack of rain coupled with the soil’s limited water reserves restrained the vines; berries remained small in size and clusters were loose – the result was concentrated and colorful grapes.
The loose clusters not only guaranteed a healthy back season since the air can circulate between the grapes (avoiding rot problems); they also helped the skins to homogenously ripen to an intense color since the sun’s light reached every part of the clusters. The result are wines of deep color.
The harvest took place in two parts. From late August to September 14th for all the early-ripening plots (usually the older, low-yield vines) and then again from September 23rd til October 6th for the later ripening varietals. In between a couple of thunderstorms mid-September watered thirsty vines, and we waited a good ten days for the dilution we perceived in the grapes to dissipate before resuming harvest.
Today, the wines are still unfinished, but we are impressed by the quality of the juice, rich and balanced with plenty of fruit. The native yeast fermentations in whites proved very interesting once again, offering complex aromatics, a creamy mouthfeel and impressive length.
The reds are highly concentrated, deeply colored, generous and with fine-grained tannins. The extractions this year were more like infusions – we reduced interventions this harvest to better accompany the exceptional richness of the grapes. Our use of whole cluster (fermentation with both berries and stems) gives us more depth, complexity and freshness, and reveals an approach that seems well suited to our terroirs.
We will continue the “infusions” on some of our reds for a few more weeks because I think we must be patient, given that this year’s grapes have a lot of good things to offer us. Stay tuned …