No discussion of the harvest can be had without talking about the vine’s growing conditions… The 2023 vintage was marked by a very humid and warm spring, with recurring rains from April to mid-June, which provided ideal conditions for the development of downy mildew throughout that period. In over thirty years of my career and nearly twenty years of practicing organic farming, we had not encountered such a situation… Whether an experienced winemaker or not, although we managed the situation quite well for whites and other reds, downy mildew significantly affected our merlot, and we can now estimate losses at approximately 60 to 70% for this grape variety.
Harvest 2023: Mixed Feelings, but the Arrival of a Surprise Cuvée!
The harvest began at the end of August. Beautiful thunderstorms in mid-August helped activate ripening. In the first week of September, we harvested various lots of dry whites, including sauvignon, sauvignon gris, and muscadelle. We also had our first harvest from our young Ugni Blanc vines and are preparing a surprise cuvée to be unveiled in due course!
The merlots were harvested in mid-September. The maceration phase was shortened to around ten days. We focused all our efforts on the quality of the cabernet franc and malbec harvest, intended for the Néo cuvée. Manual harvesting for Saussignac took place in two passes between September 20 and the first week of October.
The Brilliance of Dry, Sweet, and Luscious Whites
Both dry and sweet whites are quite fascinating; they exhibit beautiful and distinct aromatic expressions along with intriguing acidity levels, with completely satisfactory production quantities. Given the vintage’s climate, the luscious whites lean more towards passito-style winemaking rather than botrytis, emphasizing aromatic freshness over richness… As for reds, due to insufficient quantity and quality of merlot, we will have to settle for the traditional cuvée and the pure Malbec Cuvée Néo. Currently, almost all fermentations are complete, and they proceeded smoothly, which is crucial for us since we use natural yeasts and no other additives. Malolactic fermentations are in progress, and the very first wines of the vintage will be ready between December and February.
Vintage 2023: our reflections on the evolution of the wine industry.
What can be said about this vintage? It has already caused quite a stir among wine professionals. This unprecedented health pressure and its impact on yields will have long-term consequences. Coupled with slower sales of organic products and the increased challenges in managing pressure in organic agriculture, this downy mildew attack may contribute to the trend of conversions away from organic farming. Meanwhile, the discourse among conventional “purists” calls for the authorization of even stronger systemic products… but, most importantly, the already low yields may further weaken struggling farms, which unfortunately are already too numerous.
However, on our part, there is no reason for us to be discouraged!!
Thierry et Isabelle Daulhiac