Wine to me is passion. It's family and friends. It's warmth of heart and generosity of spirit.
Robert Mondavi

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

2009: Harvest Report (up to this point)

It appears that God is smiling on us this year. From all indications, the 2009 harvests from across Europe and the US are ringing the sounds of excellence. Today, we will be focusing on three of the major collecting regions of Napa Valley, Bordeaux and Burgundy. It would be amazing if we looked back at 2009 as a historic vintage for numerous regions around the world. All indications are point to this being a possibility.

Napa Valley

According to a report in the St. Helena Star, the Napa Grapegrowers’ conference, reported that weather conditions this year have been almost perfect. Matt Taylor, the winegrower at the prestigious Araujo Estates, was not shy when it came to his excitement. He stated that 2009 has had an incredible growing season and that the grapes behold a beautiful acidity.

As of this past weekend, the weather continues to bless the harvest of 2009. According to the Napa Valley Registry, John Ruel of Trefethen Vineyards & Winery commented that the warm weather continues to speed ripening! On Tuesday, we will be bringing in our first chardonnay of the year, some beautiful Wente Musqué clone (a clone of Sauvignon Blanc) that is just singing with flavor.

Also, we received our first major comment about Cabernets from Volker Eisele of Eisele Vineyards. He said that temperatures in the vineyards dropped to 44 degrees during the night and daytime temperatures were around 80 degrees. This is the best weather for good color development in the reds. He finally went on to say that the harvest is on schedule for Cabernet, but will not be early due to recent cooler weather.

There have also been a lot of whispers of an over abundance of Cabernet and Pinot Noir grapes. Add to this that the market (for Pinot Noir) is finally slowing down, according to an interview in Wine Spectator of Dennis Martin, VP of Winemaking at Fetzer. These facts could potentially make for some good deals for bargain hunting consumers down the road.


Expectations are equally optimistic in Bordeaux. According to reports from Decanter, the harvest of 2009 is being compared to the historic harvest of 2005. Other then a May hail storm, which damaged a decent amount of vines (with the worst damage occurring on the Right Bank), the conditions have been optimal.

Château Teyssier’s Jonathan Malthus said that in terms of quality, we are in the best position since 2005. Three weeks back, Château Carbonnieux’s Eric Perrin told Decanter that we are bringing in grapes of great delicacy and freshness, when speaking of the Sauvignon Blanc harvest. Perrin also mentioned that this years harvest is around one week to 10 days in advance of 2008 for both whites and reds, with larger quantity and healthier grapes.


In Burgundy, the expectations seem to be even loftier. Some of the wine houses are even declaring that 2009 will be a magnificent vintage for both the whites and reds. The grapes were small and they've developed from this perfectly through the summer. This is easily the best year since 2005, said Jean-Paul Durup of Domaine Jean Durup.

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir producer Domaine Jacques Prieur’s owner Martin Prieur stated, we're looking forward to a very fine vintage, very balanced. Considering the stubbornness of Pinot Noir, these optimal growing conditions are providing a pivotal first-step towards a legendary wine.

In the cases of Napa, Bordeaux and Burgundy this year has provided a terrific harvest season thus far. However, as exciting as this all sounds, wine houses are not out of the woods just yet. In California there is always the potential of continued wildfires to contend with and there is always the possibility of a wet September/early October (which could dilute the concentration of the grapes).

As it stands, the weather since these articles were written has been optimal for harvest, as well as the final leg of ripening for the reds. If the negative variables continue to be held at bay, then it will be up to the talented winemakers to create terrific wines from a very exciting batch of grapes!

Based on the most recent weather reports (9/16) from The Weather Channel, Napa Valley looks to be the best positioned with no rain in sight and temperature variation on the low and high ends that are very promising. Both Bordeaux and Burgundy have some rain in the forecast, the severity and length will be key factors to watch going forward. The temperatures also look to be dipping slightly. Let us hope that a few days of poor weather does not undo the promising foundation that has been laid.

Stay tuned for an in-depth report following the conclusion of the harvest season!

Decanter –
Napa Valley Register-
St. Helena Star -
Wine Spectator -

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