More wine news from France!

And once again I gather some efforts to write about one of my favorite hobbies yet seldom write on it. This is wines of course, if you read my blog you know about my qualifications and experiences so rather than repeat let me tell you the latest wine news from France! Simply the best ::) End of discussion!

Well is the 2018 harvest coming along? From my ins to the wine growing region near me in the Loire the 2018 should be very good and now from the experts of my fav Bordeaux it is confirmed. Bordeaux had another great vintage in 2018 – at least, those who managed to ward off the mildew did.

Jean-Basile Roland of Château Rauzan-Ségla says, “it was impossible to run from plot to plot because of the configuration of our plots. But we reduced the impact. It could have been worse. We did a drastic crop reduction in August, and we have lower volume, but we’re very, very happy with the quality and with our selection in the vineyard.

In Pessac-Léognan,Château Malartic-Lagraviére, not organic but with some organic and biodynamic plots, had little damage. “They’re small plots, two and four hectares,” says Jean-Jacques Bonnie.

At Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste in Pauillac, Emmeline Borie says “we had no mildew. Somebody came looking for it, and found just one berry in the vineyard with mildew.”

Philippe Casteja of the Domaines of Borie-Manoux says that for some people, “le pont” caused problems. The pont is the bridge to “le weekend”, taking it easy on Fridays, in other words. “There would be three days dry, then three days rain. If you were not very careful and on the spot, you had problems. It’s a matter of the politics in each estate.”

But the good news is that the wines in the vats are looking good.  Sauternes is still being picked, and the botrytis is spreading nicely. There was some evaporation of water from the grapes before the botrytis set in, reports Fabrice Dubordieu of Château Doisy-Daëne, and hail hit parts of Sauternes but not Barsac; he’s expecting a good year.

At Domaine de Chevalier, M. Bernard likes the look of his Cabernet Sauvignon, “It was the driest September for the last 60 years”, he says. “To say so early that this will be one of the best vintages in Bordeaux; but we are sure. Sometimes we have some doubt, but this year we are quite sure.” Generally the quantity is good, too, he says, in spite of the worst that mildew and hail could do.

at Château Rauzan-Ségla, M Roland says “the Merlot is splendid, and the Petit Verdot amazing; the first Cabernet Sauvignon from the vats is quite impressive.” M Borie of Château Grand Puy Lacoste adds that “the quality of ’18 is crazy”.

And you know who these names are don’t you!

A surprise, do not like it but it is doing great marketing and coming up very nicely here in France, especially those that shop in supermarket for wine, which I don’t.

Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte: Today, the Union of Cooperatives located in Chouilly (Marne) Associates 4 500 winegrowers for a surface of 2 100 hectares and 10.4 million of bottles produced. Which puts the mark, in terms of volume, just behind Moët & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot.

Today, 40% of our volumes are destined for the international market. They would like to achieve parity with the French market, i.e. 6 million bottles sold in France and 6 million elsewhere, and that’s within five years.  They have great margins of progress in the United States, where they are imported and distributed by the group Ste Michelle. They benefit from its network. In addition, they have signed a three-year partnership with the Canadian company Cirque du Soleil last May. We are now their official supplier in the US and Canada.

They are already the preferred brand of the French, as confirmed by several studies carried out by the Nielsen group.

And the complexities of Burgundy continues.

Nothing so surprising about these Cistercian lands overlooking the three villages of Aloxe-Corton, Ladoix-Serrigny and Pernand-Vergelesses, in Côte-d’Or. The 66 hectares planted with ash trees, beech, oak and chestnut trees culminate at 388 meters and style one of the most famous wine-growing hills in the world, whose flanks include 167 hectares of vineyards classified as Grands Crus, from which are derived Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Corton and Corton-Charlemagne appellations.

Among the many owners, the Maison Louis Latour alone has about twenty hectares, a continent on the scale of Burgundy. Aubert de Villaine, also co-owner of the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti in Vosne-Romanée, has invested heavily in recent years, with three parcels and a closing contract, for a total of about 6 hectares. The Burgundian family Méo-Camuzet is also present today in Corton, like the Freys who bought the château of Corton-Andre, renamed Corton C, Patrick Landanger of the Domaine Pousse d’Or and others. Thus, 20% of the Corton-Charlemagne appellation has changed hands over the last twenty years.

The Hill’s wine rating is at its highest, and the price of the land rises to heaven. In a generation, the value of the land has quintupled, however, compared to the Côte de Nuits, almost untouchable, the hill of Corton proves to be an excellent quality-price ratio for investors. This situation makes the premises very sensitive to new transactions that are emerging.

Like the climate, the territory becomes a quasi-philosophical concept when the Burgundians take ownership of it. Burgundy is a very fragmented region. Subjects of biodiversity cannot be apprehended in any other way than collectively. The environment needs to be managed in common. That is how they have been able to fight land erosion. This is also how they distributed to everyone honey plants and reimplanted hives

In other words, some accuse the Latour and Villaine of wanting to freeze the hill of Corton for the benefit of the historic owners who “play the Rent”. Burgundy cannot be frozen because it is an economic entity that lives, makes wine and sells it. The idea is not to freeze, but to evolve within the framework of a tradition. Of course, they are not going to evolve from a geographical point of view because they are stuck between the Morvan and the Saône plain. But they are progressing in the know-how, in technological knowledge, in Biodynamics.   ”

The hill of Corton in figures: 1 000 hectares of which 550 ha of Vine and 167 ha of Grands Crus in the name of Corton and Corton-Charlemagne.   3 communes Aloxe-Corton, Pernand-Vergelesses and Ladoix-Serrigny share the hill. 2015 year of the inscription of Corton Hill on the Unesco heritage list.

Well not really wine news but indirectly it is, the tourist business in France. Record revenues on tourism for France 2018 it will  be more than the record in 2014 of 54B euros. According to the Bank of France (Banque de France). For the 12 months running ending Aug 2018 France had already 56,8B euros. All the main 6 country visitors had an increase in revenues with the British on top with 1,9B and then the Belgians Japan is in 10th place just behind China. The USA is in 4th place without telling the amount. On the contrary, French vacationing outside total 39,5B euros as a whole worldwide.

Among the great villages of the Côte de Nuits, Morey-Saint-Denis is undoubtedly the most unknown or even the most misunderstood of the wine aficionados. The story explains much of this disaffection: until the 1960’s, the wines of Morey-Saint-Denis were bought by the traders of Côte de Nuit and Beaune to assemble them with wines of Chambolle-Musigny or Gevrey-Chambertin, better known and easier to market.

Another significant element, the absence in the village of Morey-Saint-Denis of large historical family property, pioneer of bottling at the Morey-Saint-Denis estates has taken on its neighbors a delay of notoriety that the town still behind .

All of these considerations deserve to be reviewed. Modest in area with 133.53 hectares of vines, the name of Morey-Saint-Denis is not lacking in advantages thanks to five Grands crus: Clos de Tart, Clos de la Roche, (which has added its names to that of the town), Clos des Lambrays, and Bonnes-Mares, mainly located on Chambolle-Musigny, but a small part of it is included in Morey-Saint-Denis. These five Grands Crus pass through the town, from the south to the north, glorious succession of exceptional terroirs in the middle of the hill.Therefore, try them more and you will be delighted.

The French vineyards  will produce even more than expected, confirming  2018 as a good vintage, with a production up 27% compared to the catastrophic harvest of 2017, according to figures revised by the Ministry of Agriculture. With an estimate of 46.7 million hectolitres (against an estimate of 46.1 million at the end of August), the services of Agreste, the department’s statistical body, even consider that production 2018 should be 6% higher than the five year average ,as told to the Press by the specialist wine Council of FranceAgriMer. The Department’s Services have revised the estimates upwards from the sunshine and have also better estimated the losses related to downy mildew and drought, there have been strong attacks of downy mildew, with very heterogeneous consequences.

If vineyards such as Champagne or Burgundy-Beaujolais seem to be able to count on remarkable yields (respectively + 39% and + 20% compared to the average of previous years), the basins of Languedoc-Roussillon (-2%), Southeast (-11%) and Corsica (-5%) have, as announced in the first estimates, all experienced a setback compared to the average of the last five years.

In Bordeaux, although some areas have been severely affected by hail and downy mildew, harvesters have regained normal production levels, an increase of 9% from the average including the nightmarish harvest of 2017. On the stock side and in particular the VCI (individual complementary volumes), intended to help producers in the bad years, customs have unsurprisingly unveiled figures in sharp decline,  a fairly logical evolution compared to the disappointing harvest of 2017 , the most modest of the post-war. In the aggregate, stocks destined for trade and production, at 47.8 million hectolitres, fall by 11%. The VCI’s fell by almost 70%, but will skyrocket in some vineyards after this year’s beautiful harvest. They were able to support French exports, which remained in volume (+ 1.6% to 14,680,000 hectolitres) from August 2017 to July 2018 and even experienced a sustained increase in value to + 6.3%, reaching record turnover over the period of 9.35 billion euros!

The  bio-driving of Château Lafon-Rochet has stopped. They made the decision in February of this year according to Basile Tesseron, head of the property at Saint-Estèphe since 2007, operates a turn at 180 degrees for the 41 hectares of the family estate. The bio is not sustainable in Bordeaux today according to him. Copper treatments leave residues in soils that do not disappear, the multiplication of passages leads to over-consumption of fuel for machine gears that wear out much faster, which generates a grey energy, explains him. We must take into account the globality of the elements and find other solutions, such as accept the mushrooms we are fighting today and a certain rate of harvest loss. This is the price to pay to leave a sustainable world to our children.

The city of Dijon, a stage privileged by many Chinese tourists travelling between Paris and Geneva, aims to become a destination in its own right for these wealthy visitors, betting on its gastronomy and the famous wines of Burgundy. The entry door of the route of the Grands Crus of Burgundy, Dijon put on the Chinese tourists. The city benefits from a double inscription by UNESCO, for the “gastronomic meals of the French” and for its “climates” (name given to the terroirs in Burgundy). It will inaugurate in 2020 an international city of gastronomy.

In Dijon in 2017, Chinese visitors represented the first foreign nationality and totaled almost 95,000 hotel nights out of a total of 3.4 million accounted for by INSEE (French govt. statistical office) throughout the French territory. The capital of Burgundy receives some 2 million tourists a year and is ranked ninth city of France in the number of hotel nights for international visitors. This summer they have had a 20% increase in Asian tourism including Chinese in Dijon , and these visitors are increasingly a high-end clientele, seeking cultural offers and authentic experiences related to gastronomy and wine.

A promotional program designed to conquer a high-end Chinese clientele, through the strengthening of links with Chinese tourism professionals as well as campaigns on social networks. The young generation of Chinese travelers  are looking for different experiences. They also spend more and more on gastronomy and wines, and less in luxury brands and shopping. Some 2.2 million Chinese tourists are expected in 2018 in France. Their attendance had jumped 19% last year, after a gap following the terror attacks of 2015. The average Chinese spending basket per stay (excluding transport) is evaluated by the Banque de France (Bank of France) at 1,647 euros per visitor.

The Reds look beautiful in silky tannins, aromatic whites and drinkable, the  2018 vintage is something to delight the winegrowers of the northern Rhone Valley even if they had to juggle the spring rains and the Summer heatwave. In 2018, the winegrowers of the North Rhone are happy  with volumes on whites and phenolic maturity arrived faster with fine balances. It cannot be denied that the situation was difficult until the beginning of June with the rains that caused a high pressure of downy mildew but contained thanks to the always vented and airy hillsides. The risks are of course stronger in bio, hence the importance of preventive treatments. The beautiful weather on the changes climats and until the harvest was particularly pleasant for the cellar as well as for the harvesters. It’s a dream vintage that allowed them to choose the right moment for each parcel without the need for arbitration, which rarely happens. This will not necessarily be a very long-guarded wine, but it will take at least 15 years.

On the Reds, they climbed to 13.5-15 ° on some vats, which had not happened since more than 20 years except in 2003. The acidity is low but not catastrophic with silky tannins and no aromas burned as in 2003. The big harvest allowed to avoid overconcentration and to keep the typicality on blackcurrants, gooseberry and fresh fruits with a nice finesse of tannins even if this year it will still have a southern style. Finally, the vine, especially when it is not totally weeded, is resistant to excessive heat, which would not have been the case 10-15 years ago.

The harvest took place from August 28 to September 22  without discontinuing and under an intense sun and homogeneity of maturity, on all the northern appellations, has forced to harvest all at once, the Crozes-Hermitage but also the Côte-Rôti, the Saint Joseph and the Hermitage. Of course, it was the viogniers on Condrieu and the marsannes that were the priority. The parcels of La Landonne in the  Côte-Rôti, and Les Bessards in Hermitage were picked on the same day of Sept 13th with a very good maturity and natural degrees of around  14 °. Everywhere, the acidity is weak, but not a major concern. On the occasion of the first tastings, the quality of this vintage 2018 is remarkable with a tannic frame at the same time dense and velvety and a beautiful sucrose.

One example from one of my fav producer over the years.  Christelle Accosta, technical director and Clément Bartyschi, cellarmaster of Maison Chapoutier:

“We accumulate the beautiful vintages since 2015 and 2018 will be very pretty despite a complicated and intense start of the season to fight against the fungal pressure. But we passed through downy mildew, except for a few small impacts on St. Péray. The plots in altitude of Cornas and Côte Rôti will give exceptional qualities and more homogeneous, which is not always the case contrary to the always regular Hermitage. Saint Joseph should produce full maturity wines with pretty balances. For Crozes-Hermitage, it was necessary to know how to harvest at the right time especially in the plain where the degrees are quickly rising after the rains of September. It will be a beautiful year at Syrah with wines flourished with pretty silky tannins and without hardness.”

There you go from the world of wines and yours truly with the cooperation of my LRVDF magazine, and official government sources as above.

And remember, happy travels , good health, and many cheers to all!!! As well as En Vino Veritas!

 

 

 

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