Harvest Report 2013 – Languedoc – Gilles LouvetPosted by Organic Wine Journal on Nov 7, 2013 in Features
The 2013 vintage is characterised by particularly late ripening dates, 2 to 3 weeks after those in a typical year. For example, we did not pick the last Cabernet and Mourvedre grapes in the Cevennes until around 20th October. This phenomenon can be explained by the particularly cold spring which delayed flowering until mid-June. After that, unlike other French regions that were hit by bad weather, we were lucky enough to benefit from a hot summer without anyhydric stress and a very good end to the season, with cool mornings and fine afternoons providing ideal conditions for harvesting. We were therefore able to wait for the grapes to reach perfect ripeness.
Temperature ranges were particularly high this year in our winegrowing regions (foothills of the Cevennes and the Pyrenees), suggesting that the red wines are likely to boast very good tannin quality. Unusually for the Languedoc, we managed to keep excellent natural acidity levels that should produce good colour in the rosé wines and some nice fresh whites.
Domaine Saint Felix Des Toureilles
Here in the region around Beziers, there were no hydric stress problems this year (the main issue here in dry years). The storms in July and August were most beneficial, although with a little hail in July on some plots (Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) without any great consequences.
We started with the Chardonnays on around 10 September, followed very quickly by the Sauvignon Blanc. The investment in a pneumatic press and enhanced protection of the grapes against oxidation produced excellent juices with very good acidity levels.
The rosés came next, keeping transport time down to the minimum to try to keep the wines as pale as possible. The reds, meanwhile, were only brought in in October, with good harvests of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. This year’s climate conditions may well have reminded them of their native Bordeaux.
For the Languedoc and St Chinian AOCs, phenolic ripeness was achieved with lots of patience and a certain amount of risk, but the result was worth it, allowing long maceration. Very intense colours, even on the Grenache. Currently very promising.
Domaine Mon Reve
It was a baptism of fire for the estate’s brand new winery: 1,000 HI of concrete vats and a pneumatic press (one of the best!). All the grapes were farmed organically this year and have been certified by Delinat.
The harvests were late here too, and also of good quality. There was a big flower problem on the Grenache vines, which reduced yields considerably, although not the quality.
Amazingly, the white wines in the area had to be picked at the end of the harvests, with excellent quality on the Vermentino-Viognier that is well worth discovering, with lots of fruit and freshness.
The Terrasse du Larzac AOC red will be gaining in character and concentration this year, as some magnificent old Carignan is added to the blend, some of it after carbonic maceration.
As for the Syrah and Grenache, their quality is true to the style of the Domaine: high natural sugar levels and very pronounced garrigue scents. The best wines are being left a little longer in the vats and we are starting the maturing.
Clos Du Romarin
The harvests were late here, too…. Unfortunately with a lot of flower abortion on the Grenache vines in St Paul and berry shot on all the Muscat vines, due to the cold spring.
We decided to make the most of pronounced acidity on the Muscat grapes to launch a dry wine. It boasts an intense bouquet and very fresh sensations on the palate, making the ideal aperitif.
The high-end process that proved its worth last year was repeated, with hand picking in small trays followed by storage in refrigerated containers before going to the sorting table. The winemaking process was monitored closely and meticulously by Fabien, a young oenologist who has learned his trade in New Zealand and Languedoc.
The ripening process was completed, with close monitoring and some hydric stress on a few Syrah vines, which will be kept apart (they will not go into the Cotes du Roussillon Village). The Grenache grapes in the Maury area and the Carignans are superb, in particular one plot (La Faun del Bosc) of old Carignan on black schist soils at the foot of Queribus, which is looking most promising.
Cabirou and Tiradou (Grenache) were among the top 5 batches this year, once again.
Domaine Jardin Des Iris
Jean de la Fontaine said “Patience and time do more than strength or passion” and the saying could be said to summarise the vintage. We pushed over-ripeness to its limits, as this was probably the only effective way of avoiding the vegetal hints on this late-ripening terroir this year, but the healthy condition of the grapes meant that it all went without a hitch. We can look forward to some excellent Syrah and Merlot and to Cabernet Sauvignon with red-pepper hints.
The grapes are still macerating in the vats at the moment, and we will have to wait a little to taste the reds, some of which we will be maturing in casks.