Lieux Dits
Lou Coucardié
Nostre Païs
The Varietals
Blanc de Blancs
November 15th, 2019

2019 – A « Game of Thrones » vintage, with fire and ice.

We always like to compare vintages but given the highly unusual weather conditions of 2019 it is hard to find a match

  • Cold air episode on April 5th, burning some new shoots in the low lying zones of some vineyards
  • Cool and overcast beginning of May generating extensive shattering on Grenache
  • A drought so severe we started to believe that the Sahara had crossed the Mediterranean Sea. Less than 7” of rain during the first 10 months of the year.
  • Summer temperatures confirming that the Sahara had indeed crossed over
    • 114° F recorded in the shade of our vineyards on June 28th.
    • 73 days with max temperature > 86° F
    • 22 days with max temperature > 95° F
    • 28 nights with F min temperature > 68° F
  • Ongoing fires destroying many wooded areas on the southern part of our appellation and generating angst about smoke taint.

I have to admit that we feared the worst… but came out smiling with a slightly smaller crop than last year (-10%) but of excellent quality, proof yet again that our terroir is well suited for grape vines, and the incredible resilience of that plant.

We started harvesting on August 24th with our Viognier from Bek vineyards, and followed quickly with all the other whites and rosés. We hit the ground running this year and both picking and winery teams were instantly working at full throttle bringing in grapes before their natural acidity dropped and their sugar levels skyrocketed. We did not expect that much aromatic freshness and crisp acidity given the climate, and it was the first great news of the vintage: Whites and Rosés are fresh, bursting with fruit and very dynamic.

Black grapes required a little more time to be ready. While sugar levels were already high, skins were still green and bitter, and seeds not fully ripe. We picked our Syrahs between September 16 and 21 when ripeness was fully achieved. Aromatically powerful, with deep dark colors they have a very fleshy style with great mid-palate density.

We then decided to pause for 10 days before bringing in the other black grapes (Grenache, Carignan, Mourvèdre). The team deserved a break after 3 very intense, nonstop weeks and needed to recharge before the last stretch. Additionally, the little rain we received (1/3”) on September 22, helped with phenolic ripeness and held off sugar levels. Again everything that remained was brought in between September 30th and October 5th with complete phenolic ripeness and amazingly low pH.

These later ripening varietals are also deeply colored, with ripe and exuberant aromatics and with depth and concentration. While some are still on the skins, we are convinced that the vintage will give us wines with great aging potential and a pronounced Mediterranean style.

The characteristics of 2019 reds are a unique combination of power and finesse, loads of super refined tannins giving a full and silky mid palate feel, and a fresh finish without any astringency. Fruit character is ripe without being cooked, and wine balances are fresh and elegant.

Working with native yeasts without SO2 worked great yet again, giving both a beautiful purity of fruit as well as an impressive complexity.   We also believe that our cap management strategy relying more on infusion than extraction contributed to the beautiful finesse of this vintage’s wines. We remain convinced that a wine equilibrium is achieved mostly in the vineyards, and despite a challenging growing season we feel that our organic approach was key to making beautifully balanced wines.

Work is not over and there’s more press work, malolactic fermentations, elevage and blending but the entire team here is enthusiastic and proud of the wines we are still accompanying.

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