Harvesting has authoritatively begun in Bordeaux, where the first grapes for dry white wines were picked this week.
Château Smith Haut Lafitte, the producer of some of the region’s most lauded white wines, started bringing in its first parcels of Sauvignon Blanc on 27 August.
Fierce heatwaves in both June and July slowed up the ripening process, however, there was optimism among estates that the relatively short-lived warmth spikes won’t have caused lasting damage to Bordeaux’s 2019 white wine vintage.
Decanter’s central Bordeaux pundit, Jane Anson, told Decanter.com, ‘Doubtlessly this has been a hot summer, which must be a bit of stressing for the acid equalization in the whites, albeit August by and large saw cooler temperatures than the heatwave of July, and with numerous whites coming this week, there is a lot of optimism for the harvest.’
Florence Cathiard, co-proprietor of Smith-Haut-Lafitte, revealed to France 3 station this week that she expected a ‘superb’ white wine crop.
Adjacent Château Olivier, also in the Pessac-Léognan nickname south of Bordeaux focus, started its white wine harvest on 29 August.
Testing showed ‘a promising harmony among sugar and acidity levels,’ it said, including that fine weather has repelled vineyard diseases. Veraison – where the grapes start to change shading and ripen – has been uniform, it said.
‘The current sunny and dry weather conditions are an extraordinary method to start the 2019 harvest,’ said Olivier.
A smaller crop? Not for everybody…
French government appraisals discharged last week said that Bordeaux was setting out toward a littler generally speaking 2019 collect versus 2018, to a great extent because of rain in certain spots during flowering in June, in addition to record-breaking heatwaves and cases of spring frost.
In any case, it is famously hard, to sum up, and a few estates saw yields hit hard by mould assaults in 2018.
Quantity levels at Smith-Haut-Lafitte would almost certainly come back to typical at the organically-cultivated estate in 2019 after a 2018 vintage that saw production fall by 50%, Cathiard told France 3.
Red wine grapes are further back on their journey and harvesting is not expected to start in earnest in Bordeaux until some other time in September.
Weather forecasts for the following fortnight looked promising on Friday (30 August), with mostly dry, warm and sunny weather.
Gabriel Vialard, technical director at Château Haut-Bailly, told Decanter.com, ‘We can expect to harvest around 20 September [and we think] the harvest looks promising both in quality and quantity.’
France’s agriculture ministry has said it expects the nation’s 2019 harvest to be around 43.3 million hectolitres, at the low end of its earlier forecast range. That would make the 2019 vintage 12% smaller than the 2018 crop.