Now that all the grapes are picked and fermenting, or in some cases, have finished fermenting, the winemakers have some time to write us with reports on the 2011 vintage. The first of our 2011 vintage reports comes from Emmanuel Guillot-Broux in Macon. Domaine Guillot-Broux has always been an organic winery. Unlike many vineyards that began using chemicals in the 50′s and 60′s, they stubbornly refused to change their ways. Fortunately for me, Emmanuel was a sommelier in London for many years and speaks English beautifully, saving me the hard work of translating his thoughts about the 2011 vintage:
2011 was a peculiar and difficult year. The year started with a dry spring and summer with not a single drop of water from March to the 15 of July. The result was we moved the harvest ahead 3 weeks. June started perfectly with no mildew or oedium and a very good rhythm for the work in the vinyard. In July we were really worried and concerned about the lack of rain, and the vines were at the limit. After the traditionnal 14th of July celebration, we started to have rain and far too much until the end of August. The result of that weather was all the grasses started to grow very quickly. Normally August is a quiet time for us in the vineyard, but this year we had to cut the grass. During the spring we have to plow because the vines are growing so the grass need to be removed, but in August usually everything is in place and the grass has no effect on the production. The more it rains the more the grass grows, which is usually helpful, because it helps dry the soil. The only negative side effect which needs to be watched is the grass needs to be cut as soon as possible because long grasses can retain the humidity and create some rot on the grapes.
We harvested the 5th of september, and because of the dry spring the skins were very firm and resisted more than normal. Because of the rain, we had a low level of alcohol, which we like, but also we had a lot of work to do the “triage” [selection] in the vineyard, which is another good reason to harvest by hand.
We were all very happy with the result in the wine. The red has a lot of color, very soft tannins, and is very fruity and amazingly ready to drink young. I love these kinds of vintages because they really show the amazing work of the team in the vineyard and that makes a big difference with all the mechanised and chemical-filled wines of the region. Don’t miss the wines in the spring, they will be delicious! For the white, we just needed to be patient for the alcohol to go up and then we harvested. They will be less complex than 2010 (which was an amazing vintage) but will still be a good classic vintage with nice acidity.
Check out some photos at the 2011 Guillot-Broux Harvest Photo Gallery!