The 2017 Vintage
October 1st 2017
The 2017s are now safely in their vats and it is now time to make a tentative judgement on their qualities. Firstly this is an ample vintage, for which much thanks. Secondly 2017 continues the recent run of high quality vintages, and looks like being even better than 2016 and 2015. After a cold spell at the end of April, which frosted the vines in the northern part of Chablis, and also in Bouzeron, and an indifferent May, June was hot and sunny, July also mainly fine, with no hail-storms except in the Beaujolais Villages, and August also for the most part warm and dry. The vintage began early, in the first days of September, and the weather then proceeded to change. It was a lot colder, and also wetter in September, but the fruit was ripe, concentrated and healthy, and no one had to rush to harvest. There was little rot and minimum dilution.
One of the features of 2017 has been that, even in June, the nights have been cool. So acidities are refreshingly high, though there is little malic. This promises well for the quality of the white wines, some of which in many vintages recently have lacked a little of the essential bite one is seeking for their long term stability.
September 1st 2017
After a splendid June and a pretty good July, August was largely fine and sunny. The harvest will begin next week, a few days in advance of the norm. Baring disaster – and the méteo so far does not indicate anything untoward – the 2017 harvest looks like being not only plentiful (apart from northern Chablis, hit by frost on April and the Beaujolais Villages, hit by hail in July) but successful. That doesn't mean that prices are going to fall, of course; demand is way to high for that. But they should not rise excessively.
August 1st 2017
In contrast to June, the weather in July has been unexceptional. The rainfall has been at a low average, temperatures have been for the most part no more than pleasant, rising to 24 or so after a cool start, and only marginally sunny. Only a few days have seen really hot weather. Thankfully there have been no thunderstorms.
The fruit, however looks good. The flowering took place early, rapidly and evenly and there has been nothing to interrupt the regular progress towards full maturity which will arrive about the 10th of September. All is still to play for, so keep your fingers crossed.
July 1st 2017
The weather has been glorious. With the exception of the last few days of the month, which have been cool and wet, June has produced an almost interrupted sequence of long, sunny, warm, often hot days. The flowering started on the first of the month, a day earlier in the Côte de Nuits than in the Côte de Beaune, and curiously in advance of the Mâconnais, and as usual, Chablis. The flowers set into embryonic fruit very quickly, which means the bunches will all ripen at the same time, and several days in advance of the average. It has been dry, but not too parched. Every now and then this splendid weather has been relieved by the odd shower. But no storms. No hail.
Everything augers well. But 2017 is not yet guaranteed. Keep your fingers crossed!
June 1st 2017
The weather in May has been for the most part mild, less chilly at night, thus avoiding any threats of frost, but only occasionally warm, except for one glorious day – the 17th – when temperatures almost reached 30° C, and in the days that followed, for the most part. The last few days of the month were increasingly warm, indeed as hot as the 17th.. In these mixed weather conditions – no thunderstorms, no hail, sunny periods but no lack of showers – the vines have progressed evenly towards their flowering, which will take place in the first week of June, a normal date. What we need now, as much psychologically as anything else, is a further period of hot sun; as much as anything else for those with swimming pools who are looking forward to enjoying the aquatics.
May 1st 2017
The beginning of the year followed on from December 2016: cold but dry. February was warmer and wetter and March really quite sunny and dry, but cold at nights. Nevertheless by Easter the vines were two weeks ahead of schedule. There was intermittent rain in April but quite often the threat of frost. The night of the 19th saw damage in Chablis, though mainly in the lower-lying vineyards in the north of the region, as well as in Bouzeron. There was more frost damage, this time in the Côte d'Or, in the following week. The Côte de Beaune was more touched than the Côte de Nuits, particularly in Saint-Aubin. With extensive burning of hay bales, none of the damage was as bad as in the previous year, nor as bad as in Chablis, but annoying nonetheless.
In the meanwhile, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph, Burgundy has geared itself up to produce a more effective way of counter-acting the effects of hail damage. More or less the whole region is now equipped, it is said - it had been more intermittent hitherto - with the ability to shoot silver nitrate into potentially hail bearing clouds. With hail damage having affected Burgundy in most recent vintages (only 2015 being spared) let us hope these machines deliver the goods. On the other hand, there are two negatives. Firstly bio-dynamic vineyard producers will not be keen on silver nitrate crystals falling onto their vineyards. Secondly the hail storms come from all sorts of directions. How flexible can these guns be? There is no point in having several expensive machines facing south-east when the hail is coming from the south-west.