As we turn to October the 2016 vintage is looking good here in California and Bordeaux. As usual California enjoyed consistent weather, a bit cooler than normal summer but with a huge blast of heat to finish off the harvest on Sept 25-28. My boots on the ground, California winemakers report to me these comments.
Mike Kumelis- Owner/Winemaker at Mantra Wines…Hi Ralph, tomorrow 9-28 we will be all in! Light crop, good concentration, and great growing season. Looks like another very good year.Craig Becker- Winemaker at Somerston-Priest Ranch and Kelleher…We are good here, just staring into red harvest this Thursday 9-29. Looks like another good vintage, the warm weather recently has helped move things along!
Mike Lamborn has finished harvest on the top of Howell Mountain! Hi Ralph! September has been a busy month, but last Thursday we finished up the last of the 2016 harvest. It has been an interesting, rather uneventful, growing year. Weather has certainly been in our corner, absent of extremes. We were slightly more aggressive with irrigation this year and I think it paid off by speeding up fruits color development. Fruit ripening across all blocks was extremely even. We normally pick our older Cab block twice (4-6 days apart) but this year everything was ready at once. Interestingly sugars this year were more modest while achieving full berry ripeness. We picked everything in the mid 25’s, and the Zin didn’t soak up to 30 like it sometimes can. I am quite excited about the potential of our 2016 vintage, Heidi also reported that her (& her clients) quality was wonderful. We also harvested 2.7 tons from our new little Cab block (ENTAV Clone 169). The fruit was very interesting tasting and hopefully that will parlay into VERY interesting wine.
In Bordeaux- As I mentioned last month, Bordeaux badly needed some rain and they received a small amount so far in September and it looks like this weekend they will hopefully get some more. My mentor Mr. Bill Blatch one of the greatest palates on earth relays this… After a rainy first half, the weather turned totally dry and hot for all of July, August and Sept. Dry whites are all in and everyone is very pleased with the results. Merlots mostly started this week and the forecast is good, so they should be really good. There will be a long wait for the Cabs, but even if it rains a bit, they can take it. All vineyards are looking remarkably strong after such a long drought. Next week is expected to be a big full botrytis week in Sauternes. This could be an extremely good vintage.
My friends Nicola and Sean Allison at Ch. L’Avocat in Cerons report…So far so good, lovely fruit, but the berries are very small and not a lot of juice, so our yields so far are down 20 % from last year.
I came back to her with…Thank you for the info, it looks like we will have a good-interesting vintage, possibly on the powerful side. Nicola came back with… Yes, some reds (not ours) are coming in at 16 degrees of alcohol!
Of course we are not done yet with the Cabernets Sauvignon left to pick but the extended forecast looks very clear after this weekend’s hopeful precipitation; fingers crossed!
Cheers and I hope to see all of you in Hong Kong in November!
Cheers to you! Ralph Sands