In the vines…
In the Côte d’Or and Côte Chalonnaise, winter has been generally mild with satisfactory rainfall. However, the end of winter and the beginning of spring have been very dry, with above average temperatures for the time of year. These conditions have resulted in rapid and unusually early bud break: the earliest Albert Bichots vignerons can remember, earlier even than 2007 and 2011 that held the previous record.
In certain areas, debudding started as early as April 14th, for instance with their Chardonnays in Mercurey. This was dangerously early as the risk of frost lasted for several more weeks.
There were several worrying episodes of frost at the end of March and early April, particularly in the southern Côte de Beaune, but these do not seem to have caused too much damage to the buds. In Chablis too, winter was extremely mild and the significant rainfall was most welcome after two very dry years. The growing season started very early, resulting in a long period when there was a risk of spring frost.
At the present time the visible number of inflorescences in the vineyards of all their Domaines is highly satisfactory, giving hope for a fine harvest. Nonetheless there are a number of remaining uncertainties, not least the climatic conditions in the coming days when we would expect flowering to occur. In recent weeks, their teams have been ploughing the vineyards by horse, caterpillar or tractor depending on the slope or configuration of each parcel. Certain parcels prove unusually tricky: the wet, mild winter followed by intensely dry conditions meant that the clay in the soil did not fragment as usual and created lots of clods, making ploughing difficult.
In vineyards from Chablis in the north to Moulin-à-Vent in the south, the rapid growth of the vines is keeping the teams busy with the important work of debudding and tucking-in. At the moment the profile of the 2020 vintage, in terms of the vines’ development, is similar to 2011 and 2007 where harvest began at the end of August. All the same the wine makers are mindful that in 2014, which looked equally early, chaotic weather in the summer led to harvest being at least a week later than expected. Even if it is too early to be sure of harvesting in late August, 2020 will certainly be another early vintage.
The 2019 vintage wines have almost finished their malolactic fermentation. The cellarmasters are conducting regular tastings in order to evaluate the evolution of the wines in barrels.
The red wines, which were the result of low yields, are highly concentrated, both in terms of aroma and structure. The aromas show hints peony and cherry. The tannins are present and refined. Acid levels are moderate, although the pH looks good.
In order to preserve these characteristics, particularly the aromatic freshness, the winemakers chose chose new barrels that were fine-grained and with very light toast. At present, it does not look as if the 2019 reds, with their natural ripeness and fulness of body, will require a long élevage.
The white wines look beautifully balanced. To begin with they showed good concentration and great richness due to the low yields; over winter in the cellar they have developed fine freshness of aromatics and impressive vigour. Aromas are reminiscent of white flowers and on the palate the weight and alcohol are perfectly balanced by good acidity. Although 2019 was a particularly sunny vintage, the Chardonnays show no heaviness, allowing the winemakers to conduct classic élevage on lees which are pleasingly clean.
At Domaine Long-Depaquit…
They have finished blending the 2019’s and are preparing for the first bottlings which will begin in June for the village wines, followed by the Premiers Crus at the end of the month.
The 2019 Chablis show perfect balance and fine minerality, typical of the appellation and of a good, classic vintage.
The two vintages 2018 and 2019 which are in our cellars actually present a silver lining to current events: after all, they will be even more enjoyable to drink by the time we can renew celebrations with family and friends.
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