The 2009 vintage has recently been harvested, vinifications are finishing. The spring and the early summer were fresher than usual (hail and Mistral at Gigondas), the last rainfall (locally) happened at the end july. August was scorching, temperature went up to 38° C (100°F) and 40°C (104° F) according terroirs. Septembre was exceptional, hot and dry, equinoctial rainfalls were not too strong. 2009 was not as wondy as the former years (Mistral in the Rhône valley). As results : low yieldins. A vintage thats shows winemakers ability : when harvesting in order to get the perfect phenol maturity. A tough vintage, they had to show patience and flexibility. Wait a few months to discover the real potential of what must be great : wines are maturing at the moment in vats or barrels.
In Languedoc, climatic conditioons were exceptional during the harvest, giving leeway to pick up grapes on the most propitious period. Its was, nevertheless a difficult year : sugar maturity riped quickly. In some area, we noticed important differences beteween the ripeness of sugar and phenols (tanins and anthocyanins). The deep terroirs (in which root can dive deeply underground to find humidity) faced better the sudden heat wave. Around Pézenas, Daurion estate said, Syrah (Shyraz) riped normaly without hydric stress (lack of natural water supply) thanks to the basaltic ground which gives better results in dry vintage. Power and concentration seem to be the character for the reds ; for whites the style must be on the fineness of the aromas. Still around Pézenas at Caux, Nizas estate signals an important gap between alcoholic and phenolic maturities, caused by the drought. This kind of vintage favours late ripening varieties, characterstic of the Mediterranean area as Mourvèdre, Grenache and Carignan. Promising reds with fine tannins underpinned by a pleasant acidity : a great vintage.
At Mas Thélème Estate in the Pic Saint Loup appellation, harvest finished the 1st octobre. Gap in the maturity of each grape made the picking up more difficult, but late grapes Grenache and Carignan seem to be winning this year. Once more , the cool night temperatures increased thermic amplitude giving more power and finess to the wine. In the « Grès de Montpellier » terroir, according to Grès Saint Paul estate, the precocious summer produced a top sanitary condition. Muscatel in OAC Lunel were harvested in early august ! Here, the year enhance the Mourvèdre. Its a vintage that stressed fruity and structured style.
In Provence, global quality is homogeneous with a level of maturity. At the Souviou estate in Bandol AOC, harvest started the 17th august with Sauvignon and finished the 25th septembre with Mourvèdre for reds. 85 mm of rainfall between the 16th and the 20th septembre didn’t caused any damages : perfect sanitary conditions. Whites and rosés must be on the delicacy, a pale colour and a good balanced acidy level. Reds will be powerful with a good phenolic structure. At the Coulerette estate at La Londe des Maures, roses will be charming and fruity, pale colour due to late maturity of the berry’ skin. In Coteau d’Aix en Provence appellation, the vintage was fabulous, except in the Puyloubier area where heavy showers devastated all the crop !
The Rhône Valley benefited similar climatic condition. Rainfall on 16 and 18 septembre (50 and 40 mm of rain) avoided the wilt of the berries and maintained the acidity at a good level : maturity improved normaly without any sanitary problems (in draining ground). The harvest took place late octobre and that good vintage enable the Duseigneur estate to be optimistic at Lirac appellation in spite of a yielding 30% smaller than normaly. Even Mouvèdre riped easily ! The Rocalière estate, managed by Séverinne Lemoine on Tavel terroir, picked up white grapes the 25 of august and finished withh Mourvèdre th 25 of septembre ! Once more, gap of temperature between night and day enhance the quality. As in Languedoc description are going on delicacy and structure. On the same terroir, Fabrice Delorme from la Mordorée estate judge this year as a very positve vintage, particularly for Grenache and Mourvèdre. 2009 style must looks like 2005’s with more freshness.
On Vacqueyras appellation, Christian Vache from la Monardière estate confess its a vintage enhancing terroir : where vines can find water naturaly, therefore clayous and deep ground, resisting naturally to the drought. That’s for him, a great year for Grenache. Hail reduce the yielding but the sanitary conditions were exceptionnal. At Châteauneuf du Pape, 2009 is a vintage on concentration. « northern » grapes as Syrah or Roussanne suffered, but late grapes as Mourvèdre, Bourboulenc and Clairette are producing remarkable results. Grenache according to Julien Bréchet from Château Vaudieu, is really the KING of the appellation. But, as he said, the terroir effect is significant, deep and fresh grounds balanced the heat wave : the style must between 2003 et 2005 ! Leave Hubert Valayer Deurre estate from the brand new cru Vinsobres : « that year was exceptional, producing dark and coloured wines. A yield 20 to 25% less, but we may bet it going to be a wine to laydown… »