Vintage 2014

April

After a beautiful winter of exceptional mildness, with only a few days of frost, the first rays of sunshine in April caused a rapid and homogeneous bursting of the vine, lasting for two weeks onwards.  After the morose scenario that marked the 2013 vintage, it was a reassuring tendency. The climate was stormy, with frequent precipitation, little intense, but regular. Temperatures were cooling down from the second part of the month and onwards, causing a significant slowdown of the shoot’s vigor. The advance on the cycle was restricted.

May

The May weather forecast kept a stormy profile with the rains remaining frequent. It was not easy to protect the vineyard, as treatments were quickly washed off. The soils, with well developped weeds,  that even winter had not been able to destroy them, had difficulty in recovering after frequent rains, especially the most clayey ones. The photosynthetic activity lacked a little energy, with foliage being dull. Anxiety rose as flowering was approaching. We needed heat. In the “earliest” of parcels, the first flowers were observed in the last days of the month.

June

The first part of June reinforced this anxiety. The timid start of flowering under cold and humid conditions lets one imagine the worst scenarios. While the idea, after a generous 2013  vintage, was to make wine of power and volume, the bad luck seemed to have taken over that intention. The protection of the vineyard remained difficult as the pressure of the mildew on the flowering got at its peak. The second part of the month was gradually warming up until reaching seasonal temperatures. The vineyard was blooming and the flowering exploded. At the end of the month, the overall picture appeared to be severe, with the advantage given to late soils, with reasonable quantities of grapes per foot, but certainly not excessive.

August

Traditionally, the month of August for a winemaker is a month of respite. The vine stops its mad shoot and takes care of its fruit. The abundance of the sun limits the growth of grasses and the soils are clean. It’s time for well-deserved holidays. Although, the month of August 2014 decided otherwise. While maintaining a fresh and stormy atmosphere, the vintage keeps calling for vigilance, as the vineyard is invaded by a quite virulent “mosaic mildew”.  Many soils, which should no longer be touched, were too dirty to hold up to the harvest. Some parcels appeared like warts in a wine-growing architecture marked by the know-how of the vine-growers. An image of satisfaction rules over the vineyard, despite a series of obstacles at the first place. At the end of the month, when the veraison came to its end, the grapes swelled,being gorged with water. In many plots, the work had to be redone in order to obtain a more refining result It was necessary to some grapes, to refine the leaves. The sun is now settled in a frank way, the last straight line is promising to be long and difficult.

September – October

Summer, at last! While we didn`t believe in it, the beautiful days came one after another, finally bringing the sense of summerish eternity. The overall image was nevertheless heavy, the weight of the grapes pulverizing the average decennial. Analyzes conducted at the beginning of the month revealed a worse situation than the one we had in 2013. It would be necessary to hold on, to await and to count on the stability of the good weather. It was the time then to work on plot mapping. We observed, analyzed, dissected and anticipated, setting dates of harvest which, with regard to the past season, seem utopian. But the Indian summer has taken place, strong, imperturbable, and the days succeed one another, slowly bringing maturity, allowing gently the concentration of the berries. The grapes were a delight to taste. The acidity gave the fruits a joyous energy and the thick skins softed the tannins. It is a gift of mature autumn, which would not have been possible with sun only. The weather, the alternation of cool nights and sunny days played an essential role to provide the tenderness to the skins. They dilated and retracted constantly, growing its tan.

More than ever, the opportunity for creativity in organizing the harvest came this year. Many fields, which normally required 10 days to harvest, took a month in order to lead each plot to its optimum maturity. The first Merlots were picked on the 20th of September, whilst the last cabernets remained in their vines until the last days of October.

Stéphane Derenoncourt