Domaine Virgile Joly – 2011 Harvest Prediction

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Languedoc producer Virgile Joly makes wine from organically-grown grapes in Saint Saturnin de Lucian (an appellation in the southern French region of Languedoc-Roussillon) at his own estate, Domaine Virgile Joly. Here is his overview of the 2011 harvest to date:

Winter 2010/2011

The winter was fairly dry, but the temperatures were normal; there was a slight lack of water. March was the start of what appears to be a particularly favourable season. We had a little rain in mid-March, more than 200 mm, which gave the vines the water they needed to start growing, and the subsequent period was relatively warmer than normal, so the vines began their cycle slightly earlier than usual, and in very good condition.

Spring 2011

April and May were very dry and particularly hot; during this time the vines were able to use the water from March, and thanks to the abnormally high temperatures, they were perhaps two weeks\’ ahead of themselves.

At the start of June we began to worry because the temperatures were still high, water was getting scarce, and some producers were talking of three weeks\’ advance in the vineyard. Later on in the same month, things changed: we had some rain, regular, quite large amounts, along with a drop in temperatures and above all some real differences in temperatures between night and day. The rainy days were followed by good weather, so there was little risk of disease, and water and heat levels were ideal. The vines were still ahead of themselves, but their growth slowed down.

Summer 2011

July saw some cooler periods, véraison (the ripening and changing colour of the grapes) started, and we even saw some lateness within the vine\’s cycle. Short periods of rain followed by good weather continued through the month, the vines flowered well, and I foresee a harvest of normal quantity, which is good news, as quantities in the two previous years have been down.

The best vintages are from years when the cycle starts early but then slows up, as seems to be the case this year, because it means that the vegetative part of the vines\’ cycle is effectively longer: if this is combined with sufficient rain fall, the heat necessary for good ripening of the grapes, and large differences in temperature between night and day – which has been the case this year in our area – then things are looking very positive.

I think we are going to be looking at a very good vintage in 2011, but of course there is still some time to go before harvest, so we shouldn\’t count our chickens before they\’re hatched.What we need in August and September, as we come up to the end of the vineyard cycle, is warm, dry weather, with temperatures around 18°C at night and 30-32°C by day, with a little rain around mid-August: if that happens we\’ll be set for a great vintage, with harvest starting perhaps only 2 – 4 days early.


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