September 06 2017
The 2017 vintage started in a fairly bad manner in most French and European vineyards. The frost was indeed a reminder that viticulture is subjected to “climatic hazards and the unpredictable will of Nature".
From April 28 to April 29, the temperature in our vineyards fell below zero four times at dawn, in the lowland zones exposed to spring frost. The earliest-ripening varieties grown at Cigalus (Bizanet), and around the Corbières at Saint André de Roquelongue, suffered the most severe damage. The total added loss is estimated around 10% of the upcoming harvest. However, the 2017 vintage looks very promising in terms of quality.
Winter rainfalls were indeed abundant, particularly in the most arid regions (La Clape, Corbieres, Terrasses du Larzac), thus loading our soils’ hydric stocks and lowering the risk of summer hydric stress. The winter’s general mildness allowed for a precocious budbreak. Generally speaking, the setting (number of floral buds on growing shoots) was fainter than 2016. Apart from frozen areas, buds development and shoots growth were both steady and active.
The good distribution of spring showers has ideally set the cycle of the vine to lead to a very early flowering (10 to 15 days earlier than the 2016 harvest), which bodes well for the quality of the vintage, announcing a precocious harvest and thus the garantee of optimal ripeness.
Overall, apart from a few Merlot from the West of the Aude and a few old Grenache, the fruit setting happened properly. The month of June was exceptionnaly warm and dry. Rainfalls came in storms (10 to 50 mm, depending on the area), but took place at the right time (early July), and corrected the first symptoms of hydric stress appearing on vines grown on top of slopes and on the most superficial soils.
August is ending on a hot spell and the harvest started on the 18th with the picking of the earliest-ripening white grapes on the Mediterranean climate areas of Château la Sauvageonne and Château l’Hospitalet. Red varieties will next be picked for rosés, with great expectations of quality, especially in Cabrières, where the vintage is particularly promising.
Since the last harvest, biodynamic preparations have been applied to the vines, according to the rythm of seasons and planets alignments: horn manure (500), cow pat pit (Maria Thun’s barrel compost), horn silica (501), valerian, stinging nettle…)to accompany and stimulate the balanced growth of the canopy. We were particularly attentive in our works in the vineyard (combining soil management between rows and between each plant) and to the nutritional assessment of our vines (through petiole analysis). Our vineyards now enjoy an ideal leaf-to-fruit ratio, set to make great wines. This physiological balance has led us to limit corrective actions (green harvests and
leaf removal) this year.
It is difficult to predict today what the 2017 vintage will be, but we can say that the wine-making potential of a very great vintage definitely exists and that our vineyard and cellar teams will use of all their energy and talent to make the best of this potential in our wines… 2017 already stands out because it is a prime number, the first of only fourteen in this third millennia.
Directeur des Domaines Gérard Bertrand