Some early-ripening vineyards in Meursault were harvested before the weekend 25/26 August, but most domaines got under way the following week. Top Volnay plots, along with some Côte de Nuits vineyards like Bonnes Mares and Clos des Lambrays were being picked by 29/30 August.

These very early start-dates relate to the early flowering in May, and the torrid heat periods of June and August. These allowed sugars to build up steadily and impressively.

The flowering itself appeared to have been marred by intermittent rains, however, these proved to have been something of a blessing in disguise. A very large number of potential bunches had appeared on the vines in the Spring. This could have resulted in excessive cropping, bringing dilution – until nature thinned out the harvest.

At this stage it is impossible to generalise but 1st impressions are that the crop of whites may be bigger than last year’s generous crop, with reds being comparable in size.

The health of grapes of both colours is magnificent, with very little need of big teams on the sorting tables. The August heat-waves resulted in some shrivelled berries, but these can be shaken away, thanks to sorting tables which vibrate. The rain-affected flowering means that some bunches on any vine are at different stages of ripening, when they are picked. For the reds, this meant that the bunch turned colour progressively over 7-10 days – such bunches need the sharp eyes of sorters, to eliminate them.

Most Domaines on the Côte de Nuits are getting under way with picking from 1st September onwards. Burgundy was broadly spared frost and hail damage in 2018 – though Givry had some hail, and so – more seriously – did the southern 1st Growths of Nuits Saint-Georges, including those in Prémeaux. It is too early to say what crop percentages have been lost.

On a happier note, and as you may see from the photos, the grapes look truly fantastic, with many small Pinot berries. There are lots of smiles in the wineries. It looks like a 2nd lovely vintage on the trot. Of course there’ll be variations in quality and style – these will become apparent once fermentations have happened.

The weather has alternated : blustery, overcast, sunny and hot, always dry. So far, ideal for both fruit and pickers.

Anthony Hanson MW
3rd September, 2018

 

It is true that 2018 white wine yields are abundant. Growers are astonished and delighted, after several vintages where frost or hail cut productions severely. Many naturally-achieved sugars appear respectable, with well-ripened skins and pips which have turned from green to brown, thanks to ripeness having been achieved.
Meursault growers have received permission, I understand, for the permitted maximum yield to go from 55 hl/ha to 64 hl/ha, for village wines. This is perfectly reasonable, given what nature has delivered, and many top domaines, for once, will produce these quantities. Some people have produced more, and it happens every year that some people go for yield rather than quality. Top estates which are emblematic of their villages, whether it be Chassagne, Puligny or Meursault, will have managed their productions skilfully, and many will be aiming to make wines of elegance rather than power this year, I imagine.

Take a look at our valued Meursault supplier Jean-Marc Roulot’s Instagram comment, it translates : “The 1st person who says “the vintage is not good because the yields are larger” is an ass!”

Anthony Hanson MW
5th September, 2018