All things come in threes! This is the proverb that we were anxious to see confirmed on the day before the beginning of this year’s harvests. And it is indeed in the summer that they started again with the collecting of the grapes intended for the elaboration of sparkling wines.
The very welcome showers of the weekend of the Jeûne federal allowed the berries to fill themselves with a smooth juice. Then, the sunny weather settled in, making the wine-grower’s task easier: he indeed only had to wait in the sun for the grapes’ full maturation and the concentration of the aromas. He was nevertheless careful to keep an eye out for the slightest sign of rain possibly announced by the meteorological broadcast.
Since it is more comfortable to collect grapes wearing a t-shirt than fingerless gloves, this year’s harvest has been over fairly quickly. Except for a few Pinots, which always have troubles standing the high temperatures and showed it with some witherings, all the grapes were collected in a perfect sanitary condition.
The Chasselas grape variety, the reference poll for our canton, revealed sugar contents that were close to those of vintage wines, while its berries remained firm and fresh at the same time. The grape-collecting really began on the 20th September and, since this day, no rain came to impair the detailed planning of the harvest.
This vintage was finally laid in casks two weeks, or even two weeks and a half, earlier than the excellent 2010 vintage, and this in dreamlike conditions.
The quantities harvested in 2011 are qualified as generous. For the white varieties, the harvest amounts to 21.5 million litres, i.e. about 4% more than the last two years.
As for the red varieties, the diversity of the grapes varieties’ implantation in the canton of Vaud implies an amazing stretch in the harvesting period. Thus, from the earliest grape varieties (some teinturiers such as the Dakapo) to the latest (the Merlot or the Cabernet Franc) the collecting extends over more than 50 days.
Like our famous watchmakers, the viticulture of the canton of Vaud adjusts its offer with precision in order to occupy all the niches on the Swiss and international market. Allied to a generous nature, it ceaselessly improves its knowledge and innovates without leaving out the wealth of its traditions.
This year’s white wines will be, after quite quick maturations, supple and well-balanced with fruity notes of white peaches. The palate will sometimes reveal a saline note before yielding to a rich sweetness recalling the 2009 wines.
As for the red wines, they will show sustained colours and fruity bouquets. The tannins will be quite present though less stern that those of the 2010 vintage, and they will be followed by a silky impression to the palate. A beautiful length and a fruity, marked and rich opening will crown the tasting.
The quality assessment of this 2010 vintage is most delightful. First of all, the harvest lasted 21 days that were fortunately clear of all rain. Then, the small size of the berries and their sugar content led to a fantastic result at the first tasting of the wines already, as they have just finished their alcoholic fermentations. Close to those produced in 2009, with an average of more than 78°Oe, the Chasselas are aromatic, offering notes of white peaches to the nose. The palate is round and lively, the wines appearing as very well-balanced. Yet, their volumes are quite weak and the harvest can unfortunately be considered as a small one.
The Pinots and the Gamays have also a very high sugar content, between 92 and 100°Oe. The denseness of the berries gives very colourful wines, with intense purplish glints. The early aromas are those of strawberries, blackcurrant and sage. The palate reveals a structure that is also more nervous than the one these grape varieties had in 2009, with a spicy and still rough flavour. The Garanoirs and the Gamarets are great successes regarding their colours and their structures, as they offer wild and liquoriced flavours.
As for the Merlots, the nose recalls the prune and the ivy, while the palate reveals their well-built structure, frame as it is by virile tannins. The wine-growers’ patience allowed to harvest these grapes with sugar contents exceeding the 100°Oe, which can be translated into a potential of 13.5% alcohol by volume.
Finally, among the specialities, the Gewürztraminer was scarce on La Côte this year. Indeed, its production only amounts to some 300g/m2. This vintage offers nonetheless mesmerizing aromas of lychee. The Sauvignon and the Viognier complete the list of aromatic varieties with grapes of an excellent quality, sound, and spared by botrytis.
The installations for the receipt of the harvest have worked beautifully. After a few adjustments, the new receipt centre opened in Morges allowed for the separation of the specialities form the rest of the harvest and also for the treatment of all kinds of batches, thus relieving the main receipt centre. The inscriptions by phone also eased the planning work, and the fact that the different selections are already sorted out in the vineyards gives us an excellent grape-tracking ability and allows us to establish our requirements regarding the choice of harvesting dates. We would therefore like to warmly thank the persons who visited the vineyards for the quality of their estimations.
The vinifications are now taking place normally. Some wines have finished their 2nd fermentation and we can now use the external cold to physically stabilise them.
2009 HARVEST: A VERY POSITIVE OUTCOME
What could we be still dreaming of? To call this vintage exceptional is not even enough, given that the term is so common. It is rather as unprecedented that we can remember this magnificent harvest.
What are then the reasons for all this euphoria? As in all natural productions, the meteorology is the key to success. So, the hot and dry conditions of September, even though they have dried up the rivers, have been very well adapted to the balance of the vine and the grapes after which they were looking.
To get to know even better the different grape varieties of the La Côte wines.
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Being at the same time an art and a pleasure, wine tasting allows recognising the characteristics of a wine.