The image above is from the Cote de Nuits at Clos de Vougeot in March 2016. The horses they were using to turn the soil in the vineyards are big, strong animals. The horses reminded me of Mac, the work horse Addison used when I was a kid. The Burgundians are returning to the old ways of using the horses, instead of tractors, for the field work. Addison used Mac to plow the fields too. He used Mac because, while the horse is a large animal, he still is not nearly as heavy as the tractor, and the lighter weight means less compaction of the soil. The Burgundians are employing the horses based on a similar logic.
It seems I comment fairly frequently about Growing Degree Days [GDD], or heat accumulation. So far, 2016 is showing itself to be another cool year; out of the eight years I have tracked the data for our vineyard, this year is the third coolest, while 2015 was the second warmest. Through 8 June, we are 102 GDD below that same point in 2015. Cooler weather will typically cause sugar accumulation to be lower and harvest to be later. As illustration, in 2015, our first day of harvest was 26 August at 2930 GDD; in 2013, our first harvest day was 14 September at 2922 GDD.
I am not willing to make any kind of prediction about the fruit just yet, but the vines are healthy and [too?] vigorous. Our coolest vintage was 2013. Our coolest year was 2009, but that was our very first year so we had no fruit that year. Both 2009 and 2013 were also very wet; we recorded our two highest rain totals in those two years. So far, 2016 is running a fairly sizable rain deficit, so that is probably the biggest difference in the cooler vintages. What will that do? I don’t know – ask me in October, or better, in 2018-19 when we release the wines from this year.
We recently bottled our 2013 Coming Home [Cabernet Sauvignon with a splash of Petit Verdot] and our 2013 Structure [Cabernet Franc]. This is the first time we have bottled the Cabernet Franc as a separate bottling, and we are very excited about it.
Structure is named in honor of my dad, Eddie. On the back label, we said, “Eddie [is] the one who gives us structure, figuratively in life and literally in the construction on our farm.” My brother and I won the parental lottery, and we are grateful for all that our parents have taught us, done for and with us, shown us, and their lead-by-example way of life.
Structure is not yet released. We are waiting for TTB label approval and a couple more months of bottle age, but early tastings are very exciting. We shared a bottle last night with some friends to get some not-us feedback, and they seem to think we have something to celebrate.