Tuesday, 29 September 2009

The 2009 vintage in Roussillon

It has been far too long since I last posted on anything significant, although there have been a few replies to my post from a few weeks back about the International Wine Challenge, including a couple from the founder himself, Robert Joseph. It all makes for an interesting discussion, and my compliments go to Robert for taking the time to present his side of the argument.

I have some notes from an interesting tasting of Amarone and sweet Sherry at the Nottingham Wine Circle last week, which I will post on later this week. Tonight is the monthly gathering of the "Tuesday Group" at Le Mistral in Nottingham, where I am sure we will (as always) taste an excellent and eclectic selection of wines, accompanied by some nice food. And tomorrow evening, I will be presenting a tasting of wines from South-West France to the Wine Circle. I hope also to post notes on these, within the next few days.

Meanwhile, my friend Jonathan Hesford at Domaine Treloar has sent me a report on the 2009 vintage, which looks extremely promising - at least for quality growers such as Treloar. Here is Jon's full report;

"2009 has been a wetter year than the last 2 in the Roussillon with heavy rainfalls and even snow in winter and frequent rains right through summer. The summer was heatwave hot and quite humid too. August had hot days and nights but in September the nights cooled off. There were a couple of rainstorms during harvest but well-organised growers (like me!) would have avoided these. However, the drought conditions of 07 and 08 mean that the water content of the soils was still low and so are yields.

There was more downy mildew than usual and those growers who could not keep it under control will have lost crop. It also kills off the leaves which can delay ripening.

There was poor weather during the Grenache flowering and my yields from that variety are particularly low, although the quality was almost perfect. The Syrah was perhaps the best I've seen. The Carignan is considerably more concentrated than last year and the Mourvedre is both higher in yield and of good flavour. I was very happy with the Macabeu and Grenache Gris for La Terre Promise but the Muscat is perhaps a little too concentrated - more tropical fruit than mineral / floral. I picked the younger Syrah at 12% to make a rose by direct pressing, the best method and stopped the fermentation at 6g residual sugar to give it a touch of sweetness. I'm sure it will be the best rose in the Roussillon!

In general I think picking dates were earlier than the last 2 years. However, phenolic ripeness didn't progress at the same rate as sugar ripeness and growers who rely only on sugar would have picked grapes with unripe flavours. I would guess this will apply to many Coops who were picking about 1 week before the independants.

Acidity has been, for me, very good this year with grapes keeping acidity during ripening so that we can have wines with good ripe tannins, good concentration and yet good acidity to balance them and allow them to age well.

I've not really tasted anybody else's wines but my conclusion from what I hear is that the quality of the wines are good but quantities are low. I think there will be plenty of variation from one producer to another and a lot will depend on when growers picked and how the dealt with an atypical vintage. Is that what they call a "winemakers vintage"? "

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