The First Harvest Reports Are Promising
Now that much of the grape harvest is in the vats, we can get an overview of the size and quality of the vintage. First reports from France are, in general, good. Bordeaux has had a good crop of whites albeit with high acidity thanks to the cool weather in August. Merlot harvested recently has been excellent and thanks to a wonderful September, they were able to pick when ripeness was at perfection rather than gathering the grapes when the weather allowed. Cabernet will come in over the next 10 days and in general, the Bordelais are happy with the harvest. not the finest but certainly something decent in terms of both quality and quantity.
Burgundy had its problems in terms of hail earlier in the year and although villages such as Volnay and Meursault managed to get a crop in, its not as great as usual. Pommard didn't fare as well and virtually nothing has been harvested. Up in the Cote de Nuits things are rosier and good quality and an average quantity has been reported,
The Languedoc again had some hail problems and although it was very localised, some growers were disappointed with the harvest. Luckily for us, Floris Lemstra at Chateau Canet in the Minervois was happy with both quality and quantity.
Rioja isn't yet finished but early signs have been good. Toro is finished and in terms of the size and quality of the crop, everyone seems happy.
Italy has been a mix of reports. Growers in the Piemonte that worked hard in the vineyards have reported good quality and decent quantity, others were not so fortunate. Paola Oberto at Ciabot Berton said that it had been a long hard summer but their efforts earlier in the year have been well rewarded at harvest. Over in the Veneto the cold summer had an effect on the sugar and acidity levels in the grapes. Pinot Grigio in particular was lacking ripeness and may have an effect on prices next year. Prosecco however can cope with the higher acidity so things are OK for the near future. Expect a degree or so less alcohol in the 2014 wines. The same was said in Puglia yet the growers are more or less happy with the results. Elegant wines with finesse is how they were described to me.
All in all, there are no reports of exceptional wines as yet and in truth, it's a little early for that, but things are certainly not as bleak as they appeared back in August when the continent had a miserable summer. We'll post more when the fermentations are all finished.