After the 2009 and 2010 vintages amazed in both Burgundy and Bordeaux the following years were a bit lacklustre.
But 2015 looks promising, after a heat wave right across Central Europe. As someone who lives in Central Switzerland, I can testify that my local vines have had plenty of sun and humidity to ripen. 35 degree heat on many days so perhaps too much! A recent visit to Bordeaux and the Loire Valley gave me a hint of things to come.
Its not over until the fat lady sings when you're making wine and September and the harvest is key to the quality of the vintage with picking normally in mid-end September. But its been a promising start in both Burgundy and Bordeaux with rain in August across France, after a dry and calm year. There has been little or no hail or thunderstorms in the wine regions with yields looking very high with no rot or other fungal problems. Just like in 2009 and 2010, things are looking mighty promising. Areas like Margaux have been particularly lacking in rain in the spring and summer months. However with the exception of Margaux, August was wetter than normal with heavy down pours in the latter part of the month (in the Loire at this time it rained for 36 hours in the town of Chinon which I was visiting).
Conditions were perfect for flowering in May and Bordeaux red varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are ripening well with good bunch size and structure. September had a good start with nice sunshine and this is key to ripening and concentration of flavours of the top class wines and especially the cheaper village wines which are grown on less sun exposed locations in the valleys or not on south or west facing slopes.
So September looks to be key and temperatures look to have dropped a bit in the last few days and sun/showers but plenty of the important sunshine. Things look promising for French, Italian and Swiss vintages in 2015 assuming September isn't disastrous. No green grapes this time around unlike 2013 and in some places 2014!
I am sure the first, second and third growth's in Bordeaux and Grand Cru producers in Burgundy are licking their lips with anticipation and hoping for good things in the last part of September. Looks like more rain coming that's for sure and much more unsettled than earlier in the month. Picking looks to be a challenge in both Burgundy and Bordeaux with the wet weather.
See also the article in the Drinksbusiness.com, "Bordeaux on course to make legendary vintage", where it says that "Should dry, sunny conditions remain in Bordeaux, this year’s vintage could be an exceptional harvest – as good as the legendary 1982, according to Baron Philippe de Rothschild MD Philippe Dhalluin".
w/c 8th September 2015
w/c 15th September