Vintage report 2020

Dear Friends,
Now that September is here, we can wish you a smooth return to work and hope you stay safe as the virus remains with us.
This is also a time for sharing the characteristics of the current vintage with you.

The 2020 vintage
The vintage is promising to be unusual in that very variable data is coming in for the different areas. At this moment in time, ripening is gaining speed due to the substantial ambient humidity carried in by the sea air, which plumps up the grapes but also weakens the skins.
Ripeness is consistent across-the-board, ushering in a harvest which will be confined to a short period of time.
Harvesting will reach its peak in week 37.

Weather
Winter 2019/20 was mild, paving the way for early ripening – this has been confirmed with a one-week advance on 2019.
One consistent feature is rainfall distribution – substantial rainfall in April and May 2020 replenished the soils well.
The less amusing flipside was the onset of mildew which sent winegrowers on the warpath in a bid to combat the disease, particularly organic producers.
This year, our Mediterranean wine region did not experience the kind of heat waves that occurred in more northerly regions such as Bordeaux, the northern Rhone and Alsace.
The sea breezes are still bringing with them plentiful damp air which cools the vines and has a positive effect on them.
Again, there is a less encouraging flipside and that is the emergence of some mould or fungus on the grapes.

The fruit
Crop load per vine is high. The berries are large in fairly tight, compact ‘pine-cone-like’ clusters.
Cluster weight is 10 to 30% higher than the 10-year average.
The skins are fragile and could burst.
The first tests/inspections in the vineyards show fairly high potential alcohol content that is developing early.
Total acidity is high whereas pH levels are at the bottom end of the scale.

The grape harvest
The Muscat ripened very quickly - when you read this, it will be fermenting away.
Sauvignon: week 36, along with other early-ripening varieties such as Merlot and Chardonnay in the IGP category.
Traditional varieties like Grenache and Syrah will reach peak ripeness in week 37.
Which means that the entire vineyard:
The international and traditional grape varieties alike
The coastal areas and the upper reaches of Languedoc
are ripening very quickly and consistently.
The grape harvest will occur at the same time in every area and quickly, particularly because there are regular moisture-laden sea breezes which compound potential sources of disease.
Our winemakers will have plenty on their plate, over an extensive region and a very short space of time. They will be constantly kept on their toes, I can tell you that!!

The style of the 2020 harvest
The first must tasted is well-balanced.
It reveals perfumed, characterful wines with high levels of alcohol.
Tannin weight is subtle because the skins are thin due to the rapid development of the fruit that was plumped up by all this dampness rising off the Mediterranean. This is definitely the distinctive feature of the 2020 harvest in the South of France.
Best wishes to all.
Happiness is… in the vineyard!

Claude Vialade & Jordi Salvagnac