A difficult growing year!
As the end of the harvest draws near in the Rhône Valley, everyone agrees that the growing season has been one of the most difficult of the last decade!
The weather was “capricious” (to say the least!) throughout the entire vegetative cycle.
With frost in spring, followed by hail, then storms in summer, along with heavy rainfall (15 August and 25 September in particular), the winegrowers had it all … even having to contend with outbreaks of all kinds of cryptogamic diseases!
At the end of a fairly long vegetative cycle (the first flowers appeared on 7 June) that was a constant challenge for the Delas vineyard team, the grapes finally reached maturity in mid-September. (although we saw over the last 3 weeks increases of only 0.3° to 0.4° potential alcohol per weekcompared to the usual 0.8° to 1.5°).
Although milder weather seemed to be on the way as the harvest approached, hopes were once
again dashed. In the end, the harvest was like the rest of the winegrowing year: a race against time!
Harvesting eventually kicked off on 14 September in the Marsanne vineyards of Crozes-Hermitage.On the 15th, the first white grapes from our Hermitage Domaine des Tourettes were brought in. From the 18th, the pickers were then busy on the Condrieu hillsides… before having to suddenly drop everything and dash over to Côte-Rôtie where it was threatening to rain.
Another stormy spell with 120 milimeters (4,7 inches per square meter) of rainfall forecast for the first weekend of October required all the Delas staff (from the winery workers, shop staff, to the Hospitality Director) to rally around in the vineyards to “save” the Hermitage grapes before the bad weather hit. The last grapes were therefore brought in from the “Les Grandes Vignes” plot on 3 October, the last day of an intense and condensed harvest in a growing year that has been worrisome from start to finish.
The changing weather forecasts called for anticipation and responsiveness on the part of the
vineyard team, along with constant reorganisation, from the first day to the last. It has been a real challenge for the team at Delas and their partner winegrowers, but one to which they have
With the harvest now safely brought in, Fabrice Rosset, President, Jacques Grange, Delas’ technical director, and Clément Panigaï, his right-hand man in the vineyards, can breathe a sigh of relief. A meticulous sorting (up to one in five bunches rejected…) in the vineyards at the time of picking has allowed us to bring in a small but healthy harvest with grapes of good maturity despite the low yields:
26 hectoliters per hectare (hl/ha) in Hermitage ; or 1,62 US tons per acre
30 hl/ha for Côte-Rôtie (1,87 t/a)
45 hl/ha in Crozes-Hermitage (2,71 t/a) …
and only 12 hl/ha for our Condrieu (0,75 t/a).
We are seeing some very nice balances, such as that of our Saint Joseph, Sainte-Epine (12.6° of
potential alcohol with a total acidity of 5.15 grams per liter (g/L) H2SO4); Crozes-Hermitage,
Domaine des Grands Chemins (13.5° / 4.5 g/L H2S04). There are some good, promising values being recorded in Hermitage with Les Bessards (13.25° of potential alcohol with a total acidity of 4.70 g/L H2S04) as well as with Les Grandes Vignes (13° / 4.81 g/L H2S04), a parcel which could give birth to the 7th opus of our Ligne de Crête wine.
The 2021 vintage, now the full focus of the winemaker’s attention, promises to produce elegant, subtle wines that will be brought out by a careful winemaking and ageing process.
Despite this vintage’s earliness and weather conditions over the year, we are not seeing the same maturity kinetics as in 2018 or 2019. The extractions are superb with lovely soft tannins and no greenness in the texture.