On Saturday, the huge, round Moon lit up the summer night as temperatures continued to soar. It was still 30°C after night fell over the languid vineyards and the forest dotted with oronges. The coolness did not arrive this weekend, but the full Moon foretells of a change in the weather, so we just need a little patience.
Day one – Friday 28 August 2015
Here we are again, starting on our annual grape harvest at the Domaine de la Vougeraie. These two weeks of intense hard work are what truly makes the wine. Although the grapes remain the essential raw material, their harvesting and transformation must magnify what nature has given us. And this year has been remarkable thanks to the intense heat this summer. We have endured two months of almost constant heat, something very rare for the Burgundy region, with repeated peaks of 40°C, leading us to fear the worst in July when some bunches were burning under the rays of this infernal sun.
This special edition mainly contains photographs to celebrate the 50th edition of the Lettre du Domaine...
The continental winter brings us cold, wind, snow, and frosts, keeping the temperature in the cellars low, slowing the malolactic fermentations of the 2014 wines....
Automn letter: Special 2014 Harvest report
Those who followed our daily bulletins on our website already know: there are no words enthusiastic enough to describe our 2014 harvest. And yet, this vintage nearly ended in disaster! Everything started out fine, with spring coming early, bringing with it sunny weather....
Day 15 – Thursday 25 September 2014
That’s it. After 15 intense days, the last day of the harvest is upon us and we are entering the phase of the birth of the wines, the three most fantastic weeks in a winemaker’s life: creation! The moment when they express their talent and play sorcerer’s apprentice.
Day 14 – Wednesday 24 September 2014
Exactly one year ago to the day, the 2013 harvest began at the Domaine.
This year, it is steadily coming to a conclusion under an ever-present sun.
Day 13 – Tuesday 23 September 2014
That’s it! Summer is officially over. The sun kept going as long as it could, we sense now that Mother Nature, after her spectacularly fruitful recent activity, is gradually losing her vitality. The leaves on the vines are turning red, the trees becoming burnished; the days are growing cooler and the nights longer.
Day 12 – Monday 22 September 2014
The sight of pickers on the Côte foretells the onset of the fall. In a few days’ time, the pickers will leave and calm will return to the vines as they take on their autumnal finery. But in the winery, the activity is intense. Almost all the vats will be filled – 28 out of 34 – with the whites slowly awakening in stainless steel.
Days 10 & 11 – Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 September 2014
Fog! It’s strange but true – on Saturday morning, the Côte was wrapped in a thick cloud of the stuff like we see in November, while two days ago, it was 28°C and summertime... The teams set out to finish off the vines of Savigny-Lès-Beaune Les Golardes and then its continuation of Les Vermots, which will be separately vinified and then blended into a single cuvée.
Day nine – Friday 19 September 2014
Yesterday’s storms brought a damp chill to the air. The sky was gray and low this morning, wrapping the Côte in clouds threatening to spill their rain at any moment...
Day eight – Thursday 18 September 2014
It was a “flower” day in the biodynamic calendar, which is perfect for harvesting. The sun shone and the sky was blue, scattered with the occasional fluffy cloud. Pierre is naturally obsessing about the weather, and decided that we should finish the best plots before the storm announced for this evening could dilute the grapes by half a degree. So it was around Morey-Saint-Denis, between Gevrey-Chambertin, Chambolle-Musigny and Vougeot that the two teams met up on the Côte de Nuits for the first time.
Day seven – Wednesday 17 September 2014
Today was another busy day, under a hazy sky with a chill in the air. But as usual, for this harvest, the sun eventually came out to shine on the vines as they gave up their ripe fruits.
Day six – Tuesday 16 September 2014
It was another sunny day today, with a cloudless blue sky and 28°C in the hottest part of the afternoon. The grapes continue to ripen, despite the leaves starting to turn brown in places, signifying the end of the vegetative cycle. The vines are dotted with little groups of pickers, trucks, high-clearance tractors, and trailers; and the roads are thick with traffic from midday until 6pm. The harvest is in full swing on the Côte.
Day five – Monday 15 September 2014
The first team arrived at the winery before 7am this morning, while the pickers met at 7.15am, by which time the first of the sun’s rays were already warming up the Côte. Today was an intense day because the rain forecast for Thursday means we must harvest our best vines as quickly as possible to preserve the balance of sugar and acidity.
Day four – Saturday 13 September 2014
Whether you’re a picker or a porter, starting on your fourth day of picking, tiredness is already bound to be kicking in and it wouldn’t have been helped by waking up to a cold and gray morning! But they simply had to put on a brave face as the sun would soon grace us with its presence, and heat up our day. In fact, it was so summery today that the pickers even picnicked in the vines at lunchtime.
Day three – Friday 12 September 2014
It was 8°C this morning in the vines, but the radiant sun soon pushed the temperatures up to a very pleasant level accompanied by a light breeze, making optimal conditions for grape picking on this fruit day in the lunar calendar. It also marked the arrival in the winery of the first red grand cru grapes, with that honor falling to the Côte de Beaune Corton Clos du Roi.
Day two – Thursday 11 September 2014
The sun was shining and a gentle breeze that was neither too hot nor too cold was blowing across the vineyards this morning. It was is ideal weather for this, the second day of harvesting at the Domaine de la Vougeraie, which will be colored both red and white.
Day one – Wednesday 10 September 2014
Harvest time is back again! Three intense weeks lie ahead to shape the future vintage. It was this morning under a misty sky that our enthusiastic 80 grape pickers headed out to attack the Domaine de la Vougeraie’s 16th harvest.
Summer letter 2014
With a shower of medals on the Domaine and its great white wines heralded by the British, Le Clos Blanc and Corton-Charlemagne have confirmed our steady progress towards greatness.
After very late harvests, the production of your letter has also been somewhat delayed! We follow the rhythm dictated by nature. While we are still nurturing the last of the sublime 2012 wines which are still in the cellar for their last two months there, the ageing of the 2013s is just settling in nicely....
Autumn Letter – Special 2013 Harvest report
The 2013 harvest will be remembered as long and late. It began on 26 September and ended on 14 October, lasting almost three weeks which were complicated by uncertain weather that was wet and cold.
Day fourteen and fifteen – Sunday 13 and Monday 14 October 2013
With Saturday’s festive Paulée now behind us, it was time to bid farewell to the Beaune team of pickers. Despite consuming copious quantities of wine from the estate, the pickers in Nuits-Saint-Georges would yet have to put in another day’s work. As for Pierre, he had the two young female interns with him on Sunday, which might explain why he did not hop in to tread the caps down. Nonetheless, they had to be on duty at 7.30am with clear heads to monitor the 30 vats.
Day 13 – Saturday 12 October 2013
Let’s be honest, when the sun came out this morning and put the smile back on the face of the pickers until mid-afternoon, everyone worshipped the sun god. But once again, around the afternoon break, he was brutally floored by what at first seemed like a shower, but which continued to rain down on the poor harvesters. They persevered because everyone wanted to get the job done. It was too cold, too damp, too gray, and had gone on too long! We have lost nine pickers along the way so the pace has dropped, and in the end, we won’t finish tonight as we’d forecast at the start of the week.
This evening, the Paulée was held in Vougeot...
Day 12 Friday – 11 October 2013
Today was the chilliest day we’ve had so far with the mercury only nudging 4°C this morning. We spent the day finishing off the large, new plot of Hautes-Côtes de Beaune, and it will be sorted as soon as it is delivered to the winery.
Day 11 – Thursday 10 October 2013
Another wet and cold day in the drabness of a Burgundy autumn. It was a fresh 9°C this morning and it had rained for much of the night. The radio forecast the first snow of the year above a height of 1000 meters (fortunately the highest summit in the Burgundy wine region is just 771 meters). On the plus side, the grapes came in nice and chilled, and the naturally cool and long prefermentation maceration allowed for good extraction of color and aromas. That is one of the characteristics of these cold vintages, typically resulting in wines with a very fruity expression due to this initial phase of vinification.
Day ten – Wednesday 9 October 2013
The day started overcast with rain threatening – whatever happened to the change in the weather brought about by the changing moon? The morning was spent finishing the Nuits-Saint-Georges Clos de Thorey by the Beaune team.
Day nine – Tuesday 8 October 2013
Another gray day, with threatening skies overhead but mild temperatures. Picking on the Côte de Beaune was finished this morning in Volnay, where the fruit was surprisingly beautiful. The crew then joined those on the Côte de Nuits, where two-thirds of our vines are located.
Days seven and eight – Sunday 6 and Monday 7 October 2013
Sunday was a day of rest for the pickers, but not in the winery. As such, the enthusiastic Sidonie, Blandine, Olivier and Pierre were on deck at 7am for a half-day’s work. On the schedule: pumping over, checking the density and temperature of the 12 vats that are now being held between 12 et 14°C, and the never-ending task of cleaning.
Day Six – Saturday 5 October 2013
With the rain coming down like a biblical deluge, Pierre no doubt wondered how he was going to cope with all the water and turn anything into wine! Given the apocalyptic conditions, we decided to harvest the most straightforward vines.
Day five – Friday 4 October 2013
The overcast weather is back with the accompanying damp, but it remains mild. It was not yet raining on the Côte de Nuits, but the mass of clouds looked threatening. On the Côte de Beaune, fine rain settled in at midday and didn’t stop for the rest of the day. Boots and waterproofs became caked with mud, and the gloves went back on. The pickers may well have kept their smiles, but the harvest this year is no picnic!
Day four – Thursday 3 October 2013
Today, the sun decided to reappear. At first, it peered timidly between two clouds in bright white sky, and we could hardly believe it. Then the temperature began to climb steadily until we had a positively summery afternoon: 26° degrees with a bright, windswept sky. What a joy!
Day three Wednesday 2 October 2013
They are so serious! Whether it is in the winery or in the vines, this year, the three teams are earnest above all else. Everybody is working with application, between the rows or between the vats. Maybe it’s this year’s vintage having an effect. There is no joking, no loafing, no troublemaking and no fooling around. Some may miss it but this year, when being focused is essential for making the right choices at the right moment, it seems that nature has got it right.
Day Two – Tuesday 1 October 2013
The weather is clearly not on our side for this harvest. After a chilly and terribly damp spring, the vines recovered thanks to a gloriously hot, sunny summer. Then on 5 September, with the change of moon came a change in the weather. The cold was back, threatening the maturity of the grapes, pushing the harvest back even later. Fortunately, a few bright spells at last ripened off the grapes, rendered fragile by the now-constant damp. Today, it is with some relief that we see the end of the lunar cycle looming early next week.
Day one – Monday 30 September 2013
That’s it, the harvests are underway! And this year it is more intense than ever, since the chaotic weather throughout the season has given us plenty of stress. Our conductor, Pierre Vincent, is at last satisfied: everything is organized, and the vineyards are visited daily to evaluate the maturity of the fruit, since lab analysis alone is not enough. You have to take a proper look at the grapes, their overall condition, and their softness. These are all details which change very quickly in the mild dampness that currently prevails across Burgundy. There’s no room for error, because we have 70 different plots: waiting longer means the sugars are more developed, but the risk of rot also increases. Not long enough, and there’s an excess of acidity. We are always seeking that perfect balance between sweetness and acidity – a quality that one of our most exacting British clients has come to sample at source.
Summer Letter 2013
Summer is finally with us at the start of July. After a frightful spring, which was cold and wet, the long-awaited sun beats down on Burgundy, revitalizing both man and nature.
Spring Letter 2013
In the winery, the indulgent 2011 wines have just been bottled, with one in particular filling an exceptional Nebuchadnezzar. The scarce and precious 2012 vintage, still in barrels over Easter, is now confirming its sublime and outstanding character.
In the vines, we have been planting and are redoubling our efforts to further enhance the levels of excellence in our vineyards. This is a long-term investment, given that a vine only really starts to produce in its seventh year.
The first snow fell at the beginning of December. It was early for the season but any autumnal weather has now been forgotten with a wave of cold settling across Burgundy. The Côte looks magnificent painted in white and the winegrowers have begun their pruning...
Autumn Letter – Special 2012 Harvest report
A concentrated harvest report for a concentrated wine!Concentrated is certainly the watchword for this memorable 2012 harvest. Back in June, we were doubtful about its future, but the weather in August saved us. The harvest itself was a 10-day race against the rain.
Day ten Friday – 28 September 2012
A light mist hung over the vines this morning. It is the last day of the harvest and everyone is looking forward to the paulée tonight, the traditional closing party. There’s a palpable sense of excitement in the winery. The two last pressings are reserved for the Savigny-lès-Beaune and the Corton-Charlemagne, both of which gave us good yields.
Day nine Thursday – 27 September 2012
The weather was much better today over the vines which still look surprisingly green, as if the rain is helping extend their lifecycle. But the end of the harvest is in the air. For several days now, we’ve been hearing the horns blaring on trucks carrying their last few crates and seeing cars spiriting the harvesters away to distant horizons. Some didn’t turn up this morning, put off by yesterday’s rain. This race against the clock will be over by the weekend.
Day eight – Wednesday 26 September 2012
This harvest newsletter is dedicated to the heroes of the day, our harvesters, who braved some dreadful weather today. The rain fell constantly, accompanied by gusts of wind. Our valorous pickers only took a break at lunchtime, with a hot meal in the dry. We salute their courage and determination.
Day seven – Tuesday 25 September 2012
The weather this year has been topsy-turvy: we had summer in springtime and now we have spring in the fall! The vine has not yet taken on its flamboyant bronze and red colors and the skies are alternating between bright spells and cloudy periods, all with very mild temperatures. This is in total contrast with yesterday.
Days five and six – Sunday 23 and Monday 24 September 2012
On Sunday morning, all was calm at the winery with no grapes arriving today. Pierre and his two interns spent the day monitoring the vats and measuring densities and temperatures. The Côte was heaving with vehicles, and pickers were scurrying among the rows under the afternoon sun. Sunday night turned muggy and storms began grumbling in the south over the Saône. During the night, the vines were hit with a sudden downpour.
Day four Saturday – 22 September 2012
It rained all night. This morning, oilskins and boots were de rigueur. And it was in the cold and damp that the two picking teams began their day. They needed to be hardy because all morning, a fine rain accompanied the pickers and porters. The boots became laden with mud as the buckets were filled with small bunches showing a lot of millerandage. But as the old-timers here say: “Clay soil is lovely soil!”
Day three Friday – 21 September 2012
The sun shone brightly over the resplendent Côte on this, the last day of summer, its dazzling light highlighting the landscape’s ephemeral beauty. It is heavenly chaos a thousand leagues over the Atlantic where the tail of Cyclone Nadine is fighting the nameless anti-cyclone that is wrapping us in its heat. But down here, the men and women bent double in the vines are oblivious to what is going on, concentrating on their precious little bunches of fruit. They are moving through the vines fast, twice as fast as usual. Does that mean there are half as many grapes as usual? That is one of this year’s big questions.
Day two Thursday – 20 September 2012
It was 6°C this morning on the Côte, cold enough to make our pickers shiver and numb the fingers. Fortunately, the sun shone as forecast and temperatures reached 20°C, perfect for harvesting.
Day one Wednesday -19 September 2012
We set off this morning, secateurs in hand, to start the harvest for this very special vintage. This year has thrown up every possible extreme, with some awful weather for the vines. Spring was cold and rainy, resulting in shatter and mildew, and ended with some devastating hail. But then a miracle happened! In August, all our prayers to Saint Vincent came true, with the triumphant return of the sun and a drying wind to save the surviving fruit. The result is the smallest yield in living memory but grapes that are magnificent, against all expectations. The berries are small, with good millerandage indicating good color and concentration, and are healthy and perfectly mature.
Summer letter 2012
July in Burgundy this year has seen the sun playing hide-and-go-seek with the rain clouds, coupled with storms, rollercoaster temperatures and hail in places, all of which means a wine region having a tough time. And where there are damp conditions, there is mildew, which means a race against the clock with numerous corrective treatments to combat the thriving fungus...
Spring letter 2012
Spring has sprung and the Côte looks magnificent under the bright blue sunny sky. The blossoming fruit trees scatter their petals in the wind blowing across this landscape, which has been given a rough ride with the late February frosts and a lack of rain. Fortunately, the hardy vines are waiting for the very last minute to release their buds, and their branches are still bare, despite the rising sap.