Tag Archives: Burgundy

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.”

Read the 2014 Harvest Reports of the other properties :

Harvest Time at Château Pichon Baron

2014 Harvest Report – Château Suduiraut (Sauternes)

2014 Harvest Report – Château Petit-Village (Pomerol)

2014 Harvest Report – Quinta do Noval (Douro)

2014 Harvest Report – Disznókő (Tokaj)

2014 Harvest Report – Mas Belles Eaux (Languedoc)

2014 Harvest in our properties: Conclusion

Domaine de l’Arlot: launch of the new website

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Domaine de l'Arlot
Domaine de l'Arlot

We have just launched the new website for Domaine de l’Arlot: www.arlot.com. You can read and visualise far more about Domaine de l’Arlot by linking to the site than by reading anything I can say here, but as someone who looks after vineyards in several very different places, I can say that I find Domaine de l’Arlot to be very special.

Although AXA Millésimes is probably more readily associated with giant properties such as Château Pichon-Longueville Baron, Château Suduiraut or Quinta do Noval, Domaine de l’Arlot is nonetheless at the heart of what we do, and quite illustrative  of our approach to viticulture and winemaking. I was recently interviewed by Jane Anson for the South China Morning Post for a very interesting piece she wrote about Bordeaux and Burgundy, in which she interviewed several people who work in both places. I recommend you link to it to see her conclusions about the differences between Bordeaux and Burgundy.

I do not consider myself to be Bordelais Burgundian or indeed Portuguese for the obvious reason that I was born somewhere else, no matter how much I love working in all three places. Although of course there are huge differences, I am in fact as an outsider working on the inside  more struck by the recurrent themes and points of resemblance, than by any notion that these great regions and the winemaking theories that underly their greatest wines are somehow opposed to one another.

Whether working in the Douro Valley, Pauillac or Sauternes, the vital importance of the place from which the wine comes is something that one understands as a progressive revelation as time goes by. Naturally there are points of comparison with one’s neighbours, who can make very different wines from vineyards that are sometimes just a few metres away; but it is also an observable fact that within these great vineyards certain parcels produce wines of definable characteristics that can be consistently recognised in the tasting room, allowing of course for vintage variation.

The importance of place in determining the nature of a great wine is probably the principal lesson I have drawn from my experience of the past twenty years. Of course the wine does not make itself, and the dedication of many highly skilled and hard working people is necessary to enable that particular piece of earth to express itself in a glass of wine, but I believe that without the terroir all those efforts would be in vain.

And of course Burgundy is earthly paradise for any one who believes this. I do not think there is anywhere else on earth with such extraordinary diversity of terroir, expressed in such a fascinating and individual way by so many great producers and their wines. Within our own property you have the striking example of our two Clos Monopoles: Clos de l’Arlot and Clos des Forêts St Georges. Both part of the same property, on the same hillside, separated by a hundred metres or so, planted with Pinot Noir and cultivated and vinified by the same people, these two wines have strikingly different personalities, which are observable year after year when the wines are young, and which persist as the wines age in bottle. If you want a perfect illustration of what terroir means, buy a bottle of Clos de l’Arlot and Clos des Forêts St Georges from the same year and taste and enjoy the difference. Better still: buy a case of each, if you can find them, and repeat the experience often over the next few years!

Clos de l'Arlot
Clos de l'Arlot
Clos des Forêts Saint Georges
Clos des Forêts Saint Georges

Harvest 2010 – Conditions in general

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Now that we have had some time to taste and retaste the wines of the remarkable 2010 vintage in Bordeaux, it is time to post a harvest report. The rumours you may have been hearing are perfectly justified: 2010 is an outstanding year in Bordeaux. I give below a summary of how things went in all of our vineyards, in Bordeaux and elsewhere.

Bordeaux – grape sorting at Château Pichon-Longueville - Pauillac
Bordeaux – Grape sorting at Château Pichon-Longueville - Pauillac
In Bordeaux, even if the end of spring and summer were relatively dry, the vines showed no signs of stress.The harvest of 2010 has given birth to a vintage that will undoubtedly take its place at the summit of any vintage classification, with an exceptional maturity. From an analytical point of view there are record breaking levels of ripeness in terms of sugar levels and also of polyphenols. In a somewhat different style, it will unquestionably bear comparison with its predecessor, the great 2009 vintage.

A great year for the dry whites and the reds, but also for the liquoreux, with a perfect late arrival of botrytis that enabled us to harvest an impressive 2nd and 3rd trie.

In the Languedoc, summer was extremely dry. Thanks to our first year of installation of irrigation on half the Belles eaux vineyard, we were able to optimise quality. Here also, 2010 will be a lovely year.

Burgundy - The harvest at Domaine de l’Arlot - Nuits Saint Georges
Burgundy - The harvest at Domaine de l’Arlot - Nuits Saint Georges

Burgundy was a little less fortunate, with a terrible winter and severe frosts that caused severe damage in certain climates, leading to a reduction in yields that an irregular floraison did nothing to help. Very low yields therefore, but a beautiful maturity for these 2010, and some lovely wines in spite of the difficulties earlier in the year.

Tokaj – Disznókő – Picking of the Aszú grapes
Tokaj – Disznókő – Picking of the Aszú grapes

No drought in Tokaj, rather the contrary, with 800 mm of rain between april and mid September. A difficult year with a lot of disease problems, very weak “sortie” and a chaotic floraison, all combiing to give us an historially low yield. But the Aszús we were able to harvest will enable us to produce all the same a harvest in the style of 2004, aromatic and vivacious, with a structure marked by finesse and elegance rather than by power.

Douro - Quinta do Noval – Foot treading in the lagares
Douro - Quinta do Noval – Foot treading in the lagares

In the Douro we harvested an impressive volume of the kind not seen since 2007. This significant production gave all the same wines that are very pure, elegant, aromatic and structures, both for Port wine and for Douro reds.