An Extreme-ly Good Year

Published by Marion Adam on 20/11/2018

Buying Assistant Marion Adam gets the lowdown from our European producers on the 2018 vintage - a year of weather extremes.

2018 Vintage Review

2018 was the year of all excess in the UK. From the snowfalls of "The Beast from the East" in late February, to having the hottest summer on record, Mother Nature was full of surprises.

But imagine being a winemaker and having your whole business depend on the weather’s whim. Checking the forecast for them is not just about knowing if you need to take your umbrella with you on your way out, but it really dictates the planning of their production.

This year though, our producers have been lucky in mainland Europe, although the harvests started very early - two weeks earlier than usual in most places.

The record was set in Rheinnessen and Mosel in Germany, where the wineries started on the first week of August, 6 days before the previous record in 2011. According to Rudolf Trossen, "it's the best we've had in 20 years."

All over France, winemakers have also been raving about the exceptional harvest:

“There will be structure and length, after this incredible Spring, a superb vintage.”
- Sophie Holzberg from Château Franc-Cardinal.

“The bunches were beautiful, not a rotten grape and optimal maturity! I think we will have a generous vintage with a lot of fruit, a great aromatic purity and lots of finesse.”
- Bastien Guerrin from Domaine Guerrin & Fils

“A perfect trio for 2018 : full maturity, fantastic quality grapes, and an abundant harvest.”
- Dominique Piron, Domaine Piron Lameloise

It wasn't all a tale of perfection though. There were some difficulties on the Atlantic coast and the South of France where Spring was extremely wet, resulting in mildew attacks, which translated into a smaller harvest. Fortunately, the recent flooding happened once the harvest was over.

In addition, very localised hailstorms on the right bank of Bordeaux have destroyed the whole production of Chateau Falfas. Winemaker Veronique Cochran said it happened just as the flowering was finished so there was nothing left: “this is part of our job, thankfully the last few years I had a good harvest, so I am not in too much trouble”.

To conclude, 2018 is recognised by winemakers as a great vintage from Mosel to Bordeaux and similar for Italy and Spain. It was marked by a long summer with no rain during harvest time, creating perfectly hygienic conditions for grape quality. Volumes are higher, and the grapes will be riper with a balanced acidity thanks to the earlier picking.

Marion

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