2011 Harvest Report

Harvest 2011 From Champagne Barnaut, October 4th: Our method of cultivation, especially with natural grass and preservation of old vines, enabled to obtain a good but reasonable crop, with perfect health and a good maturity, two difficult points for those who favor abundance…

Here is sum up this Champagne year:

After a winter unusually hard and a springtime like a summer, the timing of the vine has taken the lead: one early week at bud break and three weeks for flowering.

The drought has prevented the development of pests and diseases, the clusters are in excellent health.

The combination of a large deficit of rainfall in spring, strong sunlight and an exceptionally early flowering is totally unique in Champagne.

The harvest then started around the 20th August (the reality was located around 23-24 of August), the earliest harvest since 1822 in the history of Champagne. (Philippe Secondé)

From Domaine Pfister in the Bas Rhin in Alsace, October 3rd: Harvest is done! We finished last week, after a pretty quick period of picking. The weather you [Roy] had on your trip was the same we had in Alsace: the typical Indian summer. That’s why everything finally did go fast, and we almost had to be careful to not reach overripeness, because North wind was blowing. And it is not surprising actually: the hanging time was very long this year (flowering happened end of May!).

The grapes were great: very good maturity, good level of acidity—with mainly tartaric one—…a promising vintage, for sure! Nothing better to inaugurate our new winery.

Fermentations also started well, let’s let the yeast work! (Mélanie Pfister)

From Domaine Henry Natter in Sancerre, September 22nd: We have just finished harvesting. Good to think that all juices are in the cellar. Fermentations are okay. 2011 will be a very nice vintage! We can relax now… (Mathilde Natter)

From Domaine Gilbert Picq in Chablis, September 15th: It's done!…the last press finished its work at exactly 7:15 pm and as far as I am concerned it is exactly 11:35 pm and I am going home to bed because after 10 days of harvest with an average of 16 hours of work each day, I am, as we say here, "sur les rotules" [on my last legs].

I'll give you more details in a few days, but I can already tell you that for the 2011 vintage there will be some beautiful cuvées, with some great yields and an extraordinary balance as well… more to follow… (Didier Picq)

From Domaine Alain Normand in Macon, September 15th: We are still harvesting to take advantage of the beautiful weather so that the grapes can ripen before picking them. Today we are picking the Vieilles Vignes, and I think that we will be able to harvest the Pouilly-Fuissé on Solutré this weekend.

The grapes are very beautiful and golden. But it is a very odd harvest because we are picking parcel by parcel to allow optimum maturity of the grapes. As far as the Pinot, it is finished fermenting in vats and will be pressed tomorrow. (Sylvaine Normand)

From Château Unang on Mount Ventoux, September 8th: Harvest—shaping up for the end of next week. I think quite a few have been a bit over eager on the trigger, with flowering to harvest taking more than the textbook 100 days this year. (James King)

From Domaine du Pavillon de Chavannes in Côte de Brouilly in Beaujolais, September 6th: For us here on the hill of Brouilly, the harvest was very short because it began three weeks in advance. Having begun on August 25th, we finished on September 2nd and are in the middle of extracting the juice by the press. With a perfect, healthy harvest and interesting degrees of 12.8, I continue to believe that this will be an exceptional vintage which will give great pleasure. (Paul Jambon)

From Domaine Lucien Muzard et fils in Côte de Beaune, September 6th: We are really happy with the harvest; the degrees are beautiful… there was a little bit of rot with the reds, but we did a lot of triage in the vat room, so all is well. (Michèle Muzard)

From Domaine de Montahuc in Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois, September 6th: The juice is in the cellar…ouf. We have just to look after the fermentations. I think it will be a good vintage. (Michel Poudou)

From Domaine Pfister in the Bas Rhin in Alsace, September 5th: We are in the starting blocks: harvest will start tomorrow for the Crémant!! (Mélanie Pfister)

From Domaine Henry Natter in Sancerre, September 5th: There is excitement in the air!… Harvest should be in the mid week here in Montigny… Today we are going to plan date of harvesting in each parcel…We will know more this evening! (Mathilde Natter)

From Domaine Joseph Voillot in Volnay, September 1st: We pretty much finished today. We will spend the morning tomorrow wrapping up the harvest. The report calls for rain tomorrow but it’s not important. The quality of the grapes has been quite good, with degrees a touch low but acidity good. The bad surprise was low quantity—quantities for Pinot are similar to last year. Quantities for Chardonnay were contrastingly very good. (Jean-Pierre Charlot)

From Domaine Gilbert Picq in Chablis, August 30th: Up to today ripening is progressing very slowly… it must be said that we have had a lot of rain last week which we did not need, but we are still in August and there is no hurry!

We had thought we would begin harvesting Vaucoupin and Vieilles Vignes on September 3rd, but we have pushed that back a week….the degrees are still a little low (between 10 and 11°) and most of the vines are still very healthy.

Apparently the acidity is low… I haven’t gotten the official results of the juice analysis that Pascal did and gave to our oenologue today. (Didier Picq)

From Domaine Joseph Voillot in Volnay, August 30th: Beautiful morning of picking grapes at Domaine Voillot, Jean-Pierre has a super team of friends, students, and etc., and helping has been delightful, under the late August sun.... (Kay Bouchard, writing of the Voillot harvest on day two)

From Coupe Roses in Minervois, August 30th: We started the harvest last Friday with the Muscat and now we go on because all is ripened. It seems to be a good vintage, good quantities and nice acidity. I am hopeful. (Françoise Le Calvez)

From Domaine Pfister in the Bas Rhin in Alsace, August 30th: Here the harvest is about to start next week, and we still have to finish to set up our crushpad and the tank regulation system. But everything should be in order for the beginning.

Here the weather is quite changing. Last week we had like 40°C [104°F] the first days, then a big storm without hail,(ouf!) but with rain. Since then, temperature is much lower under 10°C [50°F] at night and 20-25°C [68-77°F] the day.

We feared rot, but our last sampling showed a good state of the grape, which still need to mature a bit more. The colder temperature inhibits the fungi, and preserves acidity and aromatics, which is good.

Fingers crossed for the coming weather in the next 3-4 weeks! (Mélanie Pfister)

From Domaine Les Hautes Cances in Cairanne, August 26th (web page currently under construction): For the moment it looks like the harvest will be good, we have lots of preparatory work to do as well as work in the vines to thin out the foliage in some of the parcels. Stress is beginning to increase, but it will be much calmer once the harvest actually begins and we can confront all the problems big and small that appear. Actors call this 'le Trac' [stage fright]!!! (Anne-Marie Astart)

From Domaine Lucien Muzard et Fils in Côte de Beaune, August 22nd: Here we are having a heat wave which is ripening the grapes very rapidly. We expect to begin harvesting at the very latest by the 1st [of September]. (Michèle Muzard)

From Domaine Antugnac in Limoux, August 19th: I am busily preparing for the harvest. The weather is beautiful with daytime temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius [86F]. The vines are magnificent and the grapes are beginning to ripen well. The ripest Chardonnays are at 9.5% potential alcohol today. We should begin to harvest in about 10 days. (David Serodes)

From Domaine Bachelet-Monnot in Côte de Beaune, August 16th: We hope to begin harvest in 12 days, and if everything goes well we should have a beautiful vintage. (Mark & Alex Bachelet)

From Domaine Gilbert Picq in Chablis, August 11th: So, up till now everything is going well. The unstable weather in July and the rain in early August did not do any damage, the vines are still very healthy and the maturity evolution is good. (Didier Picq)

From Château Unang in Ventoux, August 11th: The weather continues to be off the usual summer highs, in fact the advance of early in the season has been all but lost now, some of the white grapes down in the valley have barely softened. Disease pressure is low, though a bumper year for boar looks a threat. (James King)

From Domaine de la Chevalerie in Bourgueil, August 9th: Everything is going well. When you came over [in May] we were very early—almost four weeks—because of the early dry and warm spring. Since then, it’s been quieting down, July being a little colder than is usual (especially after mid July), and we also had some rain that we were desperately waiting for (a little: just enough but not a lot).

Now, since the beginning of August, there is no more rain, but the humidity is quite high, especially in the morning, and the temperature is quite warm during the day (not as much as usual in August though) but the nights are cool. So there is a lot of moisture in the air, lots of nice light too. Two weeks now that the grapes have started to turn and all the bunches are almost purple in color. We now are two weeks and a half in advance and are planning to pick after September 18th. But we’ll see. We are happy because at one point we were afraid to have a monster vintage and now things are getting wiser. Cool night and warm days let us hope for a balanced vintage.

The scare is now the rain and the sanitary state of the grapes in more than one month’s time.... So we will see what will happen. So far pas de problème, c'est chouette! (Stéphanie Caslot)

From Domaine Joseph Voillot in Volnay, August 8th: It is necessary to watch the vines and the grapes. As I work in "protection raisonnée," I made a preventive medication against Botrytis, and I often trim to have well-aired foliage to support good ventilation of the grapes. The rows have been plowed 5 times this summer but I was constrained to use a mild weed killer at the end of July to destroy high grasses because, considering the moisture, I could not plow one time more as I had originally planned. To plow was not possible any more because the ground was too wet to do an effective job and not taking action would have supported moisture and thus the rot.

I think that the trap of this year for the vines worked organically will be the high grass which will reduce the ventilation of the rows and will maintain a humidity too strong on the level of the grapes. The only solution for organic vines will be to mow grass, but that is tiresome and most of workmen are on holiday!!!!!!! And I am afraid for them that Botrytis is already installed in the middle of the grapes!

But, it will be with the vintage that one will know who worked well or not, and who made the good choice.

It should be hoped that after the rain of July "dame nature" offers to us a second fortnight of August without water, with wind and heat!!!!!!!

From tomorrow, I will make 2 grape samples per week, in the same vines, to follow the evolution of maturation and the medical condition of the grapes. I will have a precise outline and that will help me to determine my date of vintage. (Jean-Pierre Charlot)

From Mas des Dames in Languedoc, July 29th: I’m really enthusiastic about the upcoming harvest! It might very well be the best in five years. Finally it seems to be a normal production (not the sad 26hl/ha I had last year...). First reason for that is that we pruned a bit less like obsessed fundamentalists - the second that I invest, since three years now, in high quality organic fertilizer that slowly improves the quality of the soil (no nitrogen, but the remains of the production of olive oil plus homeopathic medicines, improving the quantity of humus). The vineyards look very happy with their feet in all these goodies. The third thing is that the weather really helped. A lot of rain in early spring, then dryness and moderated wind, then some punctual rains, long and calm, perfect to penetrate the soil. Since I planted two new vineyards (Grenache and Mourvèdre), this was just what I needed. (Lidewij van Wilgen)

From Château Unang in Ventoux, July 28th: After thinking that we might be up to 3 weeks ahead of last year with the hot dry April (and very good weather for flowering) we have now cooled our way back to being only a week or even less. Perhaps we had better stop trying to predict when harvest might be... (James King)

From Domaine Henry Natter in Sancerre, July 22nd: It is raining and cold here! I left my sunglasses in the depths of the closet! But it’s great for the vineyard. We will have a great balance between sugar and acidity in grape berries thanks to this weather.

We speak about harvesting beginning of September and maybe end of August! Harvesting by night this year: why not? (Mathilde Natter)

From Champagne Jacquesson, July 19th:The vines are looking good at this stage even if the current weather is awful, rainy and cold. We expect to harvest around the 25th of August or maybe earlier, some say the 20th. If they are right, that would be the earliest harvest since 1822!!! (Jean-Hervé Chiquet)

From Domaine Pavaillon de Chavannes in Côte de Brouilly, July 19th: We await a good harvest in quality and quantity. The sanitary condition is perfect but the wine is not yet in foudre... (Paul Jambon)

From Domaine Marc Tempé in the Haut Rhin in Alsace, July 7th: In Alsace, things go well. The temperature is very favorable for the moment, and we’re expecting the harvest to be three weeks in advance. A beautiful harvest (in quantity) is in prospect. (Anne-Marie Tempé)

From Domaine Pfister in the Bas Rhin in Alsace, July 6th: Here we have 2 months to finish [building] the winery... but the timing is respected so far — it should work!

The vineyards look great this year (quality, and also more quantity than 2010, ouf!), and we hope the summer won’t be too warm... (Mélanie Pfister)

From Domaine Gilbert Picq in Chablis, June 27th: Here it’s really really hot: 104 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade. (Marylin Picq)

From Champagne Jacquesson, June 16th: It’s raining at the moment in Dizy, and this is good news. Our vines have not suffered from the dryness, but the future development of the grapes could have been compromised. Thus, at the moment, all goes well. We think that the harvest will start between the 18th and the 25th of August. As usual, it’s the weather the month preceding the harvest that will determine the quality... (Laurent Chiquet)