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This Grand Cru parcel is monitored by a vine-grower who takes care of the vineyard on a daily basis. He constantly seeks the right balance between his own work and the biological cycle, so as to allow the terroir to fully express its nuances.
Following hand picking in small cases and meticulous sorting of the grapes, pressing takes place in two phases: evacuation of the first juice, then pressing in two-hourly cycles. Depending on the profile of the vintage, maturing is carried out for 12 to 14 months in French oak barrels, with a proportion of new barrels that may be up to 20%.
“2019 is ‘the perfect storm’ of a vintage,” said Laurent Drouhin of top negociant house Drouhin, which owns vineyards in many parts of Burgundy. “We keep smiling because some wines will be great.” The mix included the hottest temperatures since the time of the Black Death 700 years ago (!), frost in April, rain in June, and no rain for nearly four months.
Drouhin’s harvest started on time on Sept. 13, and Laurent’s winemaking brother Frederic reports, “The first reds show an intense and beautiful color, good concentration, great balance and acidity and depth. The whites also show good richness with balance.” It’s a great year for reds, with slightly higher alcohol than usual.
The downside is very low yields. In just one April night, frost destroyed about 30% of the crop in Macon, though what’s left is making wines with good acidity and aromas.
Export company Le Serbet gathered reports from 65 producers in its portfolio, and head of marketing Peter Wasserman says the loss of grapes varies from vineyard to vineyard; in some places it may be as much as 50% to 60% lower than normal. Northern appellations such as Gevrey-Chambertin seem to have done best, down only 10%.
With less wine, you might predict even higher prices, but producers worry that this would drive away consumers.