Tag Archives: Jacques Devauges

2014 Harvest Report – Domaine de l’Arlot (Burgundy)

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After the spectacular film of the Pichon Baron harvest, I thought the best way to give you some idea of how things went in the other properties would be to talk to the individual directors of each property and ask them to give us their view on how things went in 2014.

I asked Jacques Devauges at Domaine de l’Arlot (Burgundy) for his impressions of the harvest.

“For Arlot, conditions were generally favourable: early and sunny spring (though there was an episode of hail on the 28th at Vosne); summer was mixed (from the end of July to the end of August there was rain and some relatively cool weather).

But the famous wind from the north in the month of September that has saved many harvests in Burgundy was there on time in 2014! With a very dry sunny weather, not too hot, we had good conditions for finishing the ripening of the grapes. This north wind was also favourable to an important concentration in the grapes, and the bunches which were swollen and shiny at the end of August took on a different and more favourable aspect, matt and concentrated.

Date of the harvest:
We harvested in two phases this year in order to profit to the maximum from the wonderful conditions for ripening.
The whites were harvested the 11th and 12th September.
Then after a two day pause we brought in our reds from the 15th to the 20th of September, under a radiant sunshine, apart from a short rainy episode on the 19th September.

The harvest:
A good harvest, significantly more than in 2012 and 2013, although still a little lower than a “normal” year: our average yield over the whole domaine was 30hl/ha.
The quality of the white grapes was excellent: very healthy grapes, golden yellow and aromatic, though with fairly low amount of juice in relation to the rest of the harvest.
The Pinot Noirs had suffered the most from the summer conditions: there were a few appearances of Botrytis, but which were dried and stabilized by the excellent conditions of the month of September.
The level of millerandage was average, and essentially present in our old vines.
The analytic parameters of sugar and acidity were good, with natural degrees between 12.5 and 13.2, in white and reds.

The fermentations:
The fermentations began this year fairly quickly, but took place in a harmonious and regular fashion.
The reds remained in vat between 15 and 18 days.
At decuvage and after some days in barrels, the wines already showed complex and smooth aromas. In the mouth there is good matter, and the textures are sweet. These are wines that offer great depth and sensuality. We are headed for a very lovely vintage, but we will know more after the malolactic fermentations, probably in spring 2015.
For the whites, the alcoholic fermentations are not yet finished. One notices already a very lovely freshness, purity and rigour. En bouche they are well constructed, around an energetic frame. But even more than with the reds, we will have to be patient, and wait for the end of the fermentations.

To conclude:
2014 which began very early and looked like it would be very advanced, in fact slowed down its progress in August, only to finish in excellent conditions in September. The wines should be of a very high level.
The quantities we produced after several years of very low harvests are (almost) normal.”

Beginning of the harvest at Domaine de l’Arlot

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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.

Jacques Devauges taking wine from barrel
Jacques Devauges taking wine from barrel

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.

Jacques Devauges harvesting in Montre Cul
Jacques Devauges harvesting in Montre Cul

Grape pickers in Montre Cul
Grape pickers in Montre Cul