Burgundy Vintage Report by DRC: Throughout most of the year, when everywhere in the world climates were shaken by exceptional weather disturbances, Burgundy had its share of misfortune with some spring frost and hail sometimes striking the same places successively. The Côte de Nuits and our Domaine in particular were fortunately spared by these catastrophic conditions, but during the whole period we alternately went through cold and warm weather spells.
After a mild winter, the « débourrement » (budburst) began precociously in early April, but a cold spell arrived around April 15th causing severe spring frosts in some places. There was no damage at the Domaine, but these low temperatures nevertheless provoked some « coulure » which would later take the form of « millerandage » and reduce the production accordingly.
The month of May was fine and warm. The growth was so rapid that the vineyard work, especially the « ebourgeonnage » (debudding) had to be done very quickly.
The first flowers appeared at the beginning of June. But a cold period set in and the flowering was finally spread over several weeks. We could still observe some « coulure », therefore « millerandage » and we already knew that we would have to content ourselves with small quantities.
The heat returned at the end of June and the vegetation began to grow very fast. There again, the work, especially the « accolage » (tying-down) had to be done so quickly that our teams had difficulties in keeping up. As far as I can remember, we have never experienced such stressful and labour intensive conditions.
In August however, there occurred one of the factors that would characterize the 1998 vintage : an exceptional heat wave (temperatures rose up to 43°C) which was both beneficial in quickening the grape ripening and bad in that it created a significant « stress » among some vines, especially the younger ones, and provoked everywhere « grillure » on the parts of the grapes facing the sun. It is the first time we saw this phenomenon develop to such an extent. Those grapes would of course be eliminated at the harvest.
At the end of August, the heat lessened slightly and we hoped for a little rain. This fortunately occurred and the ripening accelerated. This rain continued however and on September 15th we were really concerned, as rot began to appear and ripening stopped.
Then, at the very last moment, thanks to one of those miracles to which the Burgundian climate is so familiar, the fine weather returned, more than fine weather, where conditions were quite ideal : north wind, clear weather, not too hot, everything that was necessary to stop the rot and help the ripening.
We began the harvest on September 19th, under the sun, with the young vines already very ripe :
- Sept. 19 & 20 : young vines
- Sept. 20, 21 & 22 : Romanée-St-Vivant, Richebourg
- Sept. 22, 23 & 25 : La Tâche
- Sept. 24 : Romanée-Conti
- Sept. 25 : Montrachet; Grands-Echezeaux
- Sept. 26 & 27 : Echezeaux
The whole harvest took place under a beautiful weather. It was only raining on the penultimate day. Harvest was completed on, Sunday 27th, on a sunny cool day.
Never have our teams of harvesters worked better : « haute couture » once again, in the vineyards first of all where the selection is most important , and on the sorting table also which « refines » the vineyard work and eliminates the grapes that bear « grillure », those which are not quite ripe, and the rot that is finally much more important than it appeared first.
The degrees are satisfactory, between 12°1 and 12°7, and acidities are much better than expected.
Yields vary according to the wines between 20 hl/ha and 27hl/ha.
In summary, we have gone through both a difficult year and harvest, but the Domaine was able to seize the « few » opportunities offered by outstanding weather conditions and, even if it is too early to give a definitive description of the vintage, we are rather optimistic. The devatting has just begun : the colours are beautiful, fragrances enchanting, and there seems to be a lot of « fruit ».
With 1998, the production of great wines would depend on the yield controls, the choice of the precise date for picking and finally the quality of selection.
VINTAGE 1998 by Domaine Trapet:
The wines have only just been put into barrels and already wine-lovers are wondering: Les Chambertin, les Chapelle and les Latricières, will they be refined and elegant?
Will they have the fruit and balance of the 1995s? Will their power and weight equal the egendary 1996s?
Here are our first impressions based on the wine still in fermentation vats, our first impressions of this vintage that, without dispute, already captivates and astonishes us.
A year fraught with extremes!
This vintage doesn’t resemble any other vintage in the least: 1998 can be characterized by perpetually alternating cold and hot spells. As the beginning of the 1997 winter was especially mild, trimming advanced rapidly. After such headway was achieved, a long period of cold weather followed, continuing until the end of January. So the pruning shears had to be set aside until the mild weather returned. In the spring, the vine awakened slowly from a long winter
Our decision, after making sure to raise the height of our trimmer, was to delicately remove the leaves by hand in areas where the grape bunches faced north.
This long and tedious chore, performed throughout the entire domain, was crowned with success. The threat of Oidium subsided as veraison approached. The onset of veraison was observed August 10th, under a scorching sun: we had to gather the grapes of the youngest vines early, the temperature was 41°C in the shade! Who said that the vine grows in the winemaker’s shadow ?
After the good weather, rain! These unstable weather conditions could have damaged the quality of the grapes, however, rid of excess leaf cover and preserved by the cold, these small grapes were resistant.Sunday September 20th, the night before harvest: the team was there in full force.
The winemakers of Gevrey who had been harvesting since Friday, shared with us their surprise: the grapes were good, healthy and ripe!
After uncertainty came hope, hope for an exquisite yield,reflecting the terroir that nurtured it.
The forecast announced that weather conditions were improving, so we decided to start Monday with our Burgundy appellation.
In order to take full advantage of the final benefits of the dry north wind, we waited before picking our thickskinned cru grapes.
Harvest of the Chambertin appellation didn’t take place until the end of the week: Friday September 25th, in dry sunny weather.
After two very selective sortings, the grapes were carefully transferred to fermentation vats.
Fermentation began slowly then became more turbulent, releasing aromas into the vat hall.
Successive tastings of these «new-born» wines are reminiscent of the 1995 vintage, round, well structured, with pronounced ripe fruit. But we must be patient, in the silence of the cellar the wines evolve slowly.