The 2018 Vintage
All smiles in Burgundy ! The harvest, which began early, around the 20th of August, finished about a month later.
After a very wet start to the year – it seemed as if it had rained eery day in the first three months of 2018 – the summer of 2018 was very dry, very warm and very sunny. This pattern started in June and continues even into the first days of October. There have been few interruptions for rain and thankfully no hail, so the crop is large as well as of high quality; indeed the season could hardly have been better. This applies all across the region, from Chablis to the Mâconnais. After a number of vintages when the growers have only had a modicum of wine to sell, 2018 offers the comforting plenty all agriculturalists seek.
But if you are anticipating a relaxation of prices I am afraid you are going to be disappointed. The Burgundians know their wine is very good (as well as unique) and they are charging accordingly. You don't have to be a millionaire to drink Richebourg, but it does help.
September 1st 2018
While the last week has been a little cooler, August has produced even better weather than July, with day after day of sunny blue skies, hardly a drop of rain, and temperatures which have been warm, if not hot. It has continued to be relatively cool at night, which, as I have said before, helps keeep the acidities at healthy levels. And we have been spared any hail damage.
The vintage is now nigh - - they started on the 23rd August at Lafon - and barring a last minute disaster, looks like being a very good one. The weather forecast looks promising. And there is also plenty of wine.
July has been a splendid month, with day after day of warm, indeed hot, sunny weather, interrupted only very occasionally by a little rain. No hail storms - at least so far. Everything looks a little brown. But we have had no hose-pipe bans, at least so far, in France. Nights have been cool, which is good for maintaining acidities. The vineyards look very promising.
June has been neither one thing, nor the other. There have been days of sun, when temperatures reached 25°, and cloudy days, rainy at times, when temperatures struggled to broach 20°. Thankfully we have not had the hail that has attacked parts of Champagne and Bordeaux. Towards the end of the month there was a week of really nice hot weather, the first of the year.
The flowering has taken place satisfactorily and a good sized crop will be ready for harvesting in the first week of September.
Meanwhile the best of the 2016s have been bottled, and very agreeably they taste too. The 2017s are finishing their malos, and, in the Côte de Nuits at least, look like a worthy successor.
So we have reached July, yet another keep-your-fingers-crossed period. More next month.
May has seen a combination of sunny mornings, clouding away in the afternoon, grey mornings followed by warm blue skies later, and the occasional day when it has been cool and rainy throughout. Temperatures have been reasonable but never very hot, but there have been no frosts or hail, and with the chardonnays now in flower a fairly abundant crop is set to mature right at the beginning of September, afew days earlier than the current average.
1st May 2018
It may not be exactly true to say that it rained every day for the first three months of the year, but it certainly seemed like it. The Coates cellar cannot have been the only one in Burgundy to have had a pool of water lying on the ground between Christmas and the end of March. Wet it might have been but it was rarely very cold. There were only a couple of snow showers, and these were not very serious. Once into April the weather perked up. There were a number of quite warm days, one or two registering temperatures in the high 20s. So far there has been no frost damage. Let's keep our fingers crossed.
Meanwhile the 2017s are en plein malo. The red wine vintage is attractive if perhaps not serious, particularly in the Côte de Beaune where volumes have been a little inflated. The wines of the Côte de Nuits, on the other hand, are more impressive. The whites are even better: the best vintage since 2014.