I was at Domaine de l’Arlot last week for the first day of the harvest. The day before I spent the morning with Jacques Devauges tasting both the 2011 and 2012 vintages, his first two at the property. Both showing very well indeed. I was particularly struck with how good the 2012s are.
It was a strange year, with many problems, particularly at the beginning, when rain during flowering led to serious coulure problems, and as a result tiny yields in general. There was also serious mildew and oidium pressure during the spring and summer, so it was a constant struggle to save the grapes and keep them healthy. But the resulting wines are outstanding. Jacques’ theory is that vines had to work so hard to resist the various pressures of the year, that the result was a concentration of energy in the grapes which is observable in the final wines.
The Arlot 2012s certainly have a lively and energetic character, and remarkable density and purity. There is quite a lot of tannin in this millesime, but perfectly enveloped in some wonderful many layered fresh and vibrant fruit. I liked the wines a lot. Alas there was not very much, but I think that what there was will come to be considered as a great vintage, however unlikely that outcome might have seemed while we were battling with the elements during the year.
In the afternoon a pre harvest visit of the vines revealed an exciting quality potential in 2013 as well, with very healthy ripe grapes, practically no botrytis so far, and only a few days to full maturity. These are moments when one realises the extent to which we are in the hands of nature: just a few more days of wonderful weather of the sort we had for my visit, and we should have something great in the cellar.
The harvest began on Thursday morning, in the small parcel planted with white vines that is known as Montre Cul, for the simple reason that when you are working there you are giving passers by a good view of your posterior. Here is a picture of Jacques (on the right) giving a demonstration of this, and also one of the team, happy to be beginning such a promising harvest in such beautiful conditions.