Haut Brion was one of the first off the starting blocks for the 2012 harvest in Bordeaux, picking its Sauvignon grapes on September 4th conciding with the children’s school ‘rentrée. Others have followed suite with smaller than usual yields but so far good healthy grapes with good freshness and aromatics following the coolish summer.
Excerpt from The Drinks Business
“Harvesting began last Thursday (6 September) at Dourthe’s Château La Garde when the grapes were “fresh as a result of cool overnight temperatures,” said head winemaker, Frédéric Bonnaffous. He continued: “Having achieved good balance and acidity, we are continuing to harvest the rest of the Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris grapes this week” http://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2012/09/white-harvest-begins-in-bordeaux/
The red harvest will not start until the start of October. It is the quietest time in the vineyards with no spraying, the odd tractor cutting the vegetation in between the vine rows. It is up to the grapes to focus on ripening. Wine producers are preparing themselves for harvest 2012, what has already been predicted as being ‘a winemaker’s vintage’ – that is not an easy year to harvest and vinify (due to uneven ripening caused by rain at flowering in June which spread out the flowering). Apparently long sorting tables have been sold out for some time! Last year red grape harvest was just about underway at this point and the whites finished!
So far it is a sunny autumn with average daily temperatures of around 23°C this week. Lets hope it holds. So far it has been a great August and so far a great September. Gentle increase in sugars and anthocyanans (colour pigments) and gentle decrease in acidity levels. Grapes healthy but some loss of yield from mildew on the grapes earlier in the year which causes withered hard small grapes alongside the normally formed grapes.
Apparently the difference will be those that have suffered from oidium will suffer severly as it taints the wine. Mildew normally only affects the quantity. To compare 2012 to 2007 already does not make sense. If anything it more resembles 2011 but really to compare vintages at this stage is not helpful.
What we do know is there is uneven ripening so how producers treat this in terms of timing of harvest and sorting will make all the difference – and of course of if Mother Nature is on the vigneron’s side and the sun continues to shine!