Hot weather leaves its mark on the 2016 vintage

Dear Friends,

This overview of the 2016 harvest will allow you to become acquaintedwith the new 2016 vintage.

The vineyards of Languedoc, Roussillon, and the South-West all now merged into a single region: Occitanie

Since 1st January 2016 these three vineyard areas have dissolved into the same administrative region, as decided by the French state, under the new name of Occitanie.

Hot weather leaves its mark on the 2016 vintage

The Mediterranean basin, the Languedoc, the Roussillon, Spanish Catalonia and the Southern Rhône have experienced a dry and warm winter. This situation persisted throughout the spring with low average rainfall.

The summer of 2016 has been hot and dry.

This episode of constant sunshine and hot winds is continuing into the month of September.

The same weather conditions are to be found in the South-West, in the départements of the Gers and the Lot.

We were in La Mancha in the last week of August, where we found hot and dry weather, a palpable lack of water, and a beginning of harvest suggesting the prospect of a 20% reduction for the 2016 crop.

The vines’ weak incorporation of nutrients is leading to stress and a halt in the ripening process.

Sensitive varieties like Grenache are suffering from fruit-drop (coulure), and other varieties not so sensitive to this have nevertheless fewer and smaller bunches than in previous vintages.

The grapes’ skins are quite thin and this necessitates special treatment in order to safeguard their integrity up until harvesting.


Disease-free grapes and a small harvest in 2016

The good news is that the vineyards are in a healthy state and showing no signs of disease this year!

Observations:     A little powdery mildew (oïdium) in the wetter Limoux sector,

                          Some red spider mite in La Mancha,

                           A recurrence of black rot in the eastern Gard, especially in organic


Up till now we can verify good acidity levels, but we are keeping close watch over rapid ripening as a result of the heat.

Weight monitoring of berries shows a current deficit of 20% compared with last year, and up to 60% less in the Roussillon. In general the vineyards are in a healthy condition, partly because of the weather but also because of deficient setting of the fruit: the bunches are well ventilated.

The whites show good acidity levels.

The reds will be nicely concentrated.

However, keep fingers crossed, the persistence of the hot dry weather could lead to the lowering of estimates.

Harvest dates

Ripening is observed to be 7-10 days later than the 2014 vintage.

The Muscat have already been harvested in the Roussillon for the vinification of white wines.

The most advanced sectors are being harvested as I write, in the first week of September.

The Sauvignon and Chardonnay are the first to be concerned.


Special Cases

A hail storm at the end of August has laid waste 1000 hectares of vineyard in the Pic St Loup sector.

Drip irrigation, or indeed any other watering system, has proved its value this year, and will have saved no small number of plots!

In the Bordeaux region the weather had been more clement regarding rainfall.

This vintage looks to be a good one, with however some sectors beginning to suffer from the drought, as is the case elsewhere.

Château Cicéron and the Jardin des Vignes Rares:

A perfect state of health in the vineyard. The experimental work carried out for a water-rationed viticulture of the future is responding to our highest expectations.

The Syrahs – a variety sensitive to drought conditions – continue to look fine; there will have to be a very delicate selection of plots and apportioning of the grapes between rosé and red production. The Grenache are in a better state than in previous years.

Work on clone and root-stock selection adapted to the different soil-types has been supplemented by careful vineyard cultivation.

By working the soil we have encouraged deep rooting and reinforced nutrition of the vines.

The Marselan and Cabernet Franc are looking good, with well ventilated bunches which should reach a naturally balanced ripeness.

A light foliar spraying based on nitrogen and sulphur has been effected before and after colour-change (véraison) of the Syrah and Albariño grapes in order to reveal the thiolated constituent of these varieties.

The first ripeness tests began in the first week of September. We are getting ready to harvest during the week 15th September. This year we have entrusted Ricardo, an Argentinian oenologist staying here till February 2017, with the winery and micro-vinifications at Cicéron.


The market

Stocks of Languedoc wines are higher than they have been for the last two vintages. As a consequence the prices of Table and IGP wines are falling.

Nevertheless, the small harvest in the southern hemisphere (-20%), Hail storms, The frost we saw in spring in the Loire and Burghundy, The small harvest in the Mediterranean basin……all this portends a stabilization of prices for the Oc IGPs, with some increases amongst the AOPs, VSIGs and certain varietals such as Chardonnay.

Best regards

Claude Vialade