Harvest Report from Beaujolais 2016


2016: A Year of Contradictions


Charles Communications Associates has long been passionate about the wines and region of Beaujolais in France.   This summer we were engaged to work with Georges Duboeuf to promote their portfolio and we are sharing this recent harvest report emailed to us as harvest kicks off in France.  A votre sante! 

As reported on September 1st 2016

With sunny days, lasting high temperatures and a persistent north wind, the vines are looking good in Beaujolais!

Temperatures have stayed up around 35C throughout the last half of August! This means that since last Thursday, our grapes have been developing wonderfully and boosting their inherent sugar levels. At the same time, the potential acidity has fallen sharply due to the heat from Thursday (9/1) through Sunday (9/4), and is now at a very low level. So, with heavy bunches and round, juicy grapes, we're feeling optimistic about the yield here this year. We are seeing some significant variations in the weight of the grapes and the number of bunches per vine, however, across the different areas and vineyards. 

Summer has lingered on from the end of August and the first week of September, with a light northerly breeze and warm temperatures. This balmy weather was interrupted briefly on Sunday as the sky grew overcast in the afternoon and the temperature dropped slightly.

The forecast is looking sunny for next week. A powerful anticyclone (winds around a region of high atmospheric pressure)  is on its way, bringing with it more summer sun and temperatures.

As with many other wine producing regions in France, the Beaujolais has been hit with bad weather this year. On the 24th of June, a hail storm battered Chiroubles and much of Fleurie, as well as a few plots in Chénas and Moulin-à-Vent.

Ripening has begun as hoped, reaching 95% in the earliest zones and around 90% in the mid- to late-ripening vineyards. From this week on, our teams have been out in the field to sample grapes, taste the fruit and analyze the fruit, trying to get a feel for the exact date that harvest will begin. As it stands, it should start around the 15th of September. However, the official start date has not yet been announced. 

We caught up with some of our family of winemakers among the vines and in their cellars: 

“The weather’s been great. With this much sun and nice, cool nights, this should be a great harvest.”

“We’ve been lucky to have so much water in reserve – we’re really needing it now. But it looks like the leaves are standing up to the heat, so with a bit of luck we’ll make it.” 

It’s great to get right into the heart of our vineyards!

At the moment, it’s tricky to predict what kind of wine to expect from Beaujolais in 2016. The one thing that is sure is that we’ve had some fantastic weather in the run- up to the harvest this year. 

With this great weather, the quality will vary. Depending on the sector, it looks like we’ll see some excellent, and even exceptional, wines.

Right now, we’re working in the winery to check each plot and analyze the grape juice we receive. We’ve been seeing some major differences in maturity between plots, and this is connected to the crop yields. Acidity remains high, but the acid potential for the wine will be medium to low as it skews away from tartaric acid and towards malic acid. 

The combination of a northerly winds and good sunshine means that the plants have stayed very healthy. The occasional rot we saw at the end of July has died completely down. 

The data we collect from each different plot is more important now than ever. The harvest dates still need to be set, and this will be determined by the perfect maturity of the grapes. According to the results of our samples and analyses, we will certainly start to bring grapes into our winery by the 15th of September for the early- and mid-ripening zones, and for vines with lower yields.

With the extreme heat we’re seeing at the moment, it’s possible that we could run out of water. A vine with eight or more bunches needs water to ripen properly.

To sum up, it looks like we’ve got all the ingredients we need to make sure that 2016 will offer some very high-quality wines. 

Yours in Beaujolais,

Georges Duboeuf
7 September 2016