It’s quite some time now since most vineyards finished harvesting. We’ve been around many different districts this season: Tuscany and Veneto in Italy, Alentejo and the Douro Valley in Portugal, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Alsace, Languedoc…
If I try and summarise our impressions I’d say that most people were very nervous, or worried, when the harvest approached. Summer had in many regions been miserable (albeit not too wet). But when harvest approached, the weather gods turned around and produced good and sometimes fabulous weather (two short weeks ago we were in the Douro Valley and we had lunch outside every day during our three day trip. In the shadow. It was too warm in the sunshine…)
Fears of a failed harvest did not come true – the good weather before and during harvesting “saved” what could have been a vintage to forget. Even the Bordelais seemed content, where many had been looking depressed in August. We spoke recently with François Despagne (Ch Grand Corbin Despagne, Saint Emilion) who said the result was much better than anyone would have dared to hope. But in most cases the quantity will be small, due to the bad weather at flowering. That, at least, is the outlook. Then we will have to wait until we can taste the wines to really know.
Many see other dark clouds on the horizon today. The financial crisis will not fail to have an effect on the wine business too. But exactly how is difficult to say. We will no doubt see more bankruptcies and hard times for many winegrowers (even if it already today is very tough for producers of “smaller” wines). The ones who have not been hit by the current wine crisis (that is a fact since a couple of years) are above all the very top Bordeaux estates and the champagne producers. But even they are starting to feel concerned. If you visit some top Bordeaux chateaux (top meaning perhaps 60-100 of the almost 10 000 Bordeaux chateaux that exist) or in Champagne you get a feeling of wealth and tranquillity. Not a struggling French farmer in sight. But read about some of the latest comments from some of the major growers and traders (further down) you will understand that even they start to feel a chill. Just like in Champagne that we wrote about in the last Brief.
Time to think about Christmas presents?!
A bit more cheerful as a subject. We have several book reviews in this Brief that can perhaps inspire you to some hard and heavy gift packages in the Christmas stocking. From a book for the geology addict to one for the wine drinker who is convinced (or wants to be) that no wine needs to cost more than $15.
You can also find a link to a gift item site where everything has to do with wine. A side table made from old vines? Earrings? A t-shirt? It’s all there. The only thing that seems to be missing is women’s wine lingerie… Read more further down.
And a wine tour is of course the pre-eminent gift! We can make an “open” gift voucher according to your specifications (nicely printed in colour) or you can choose a specific tour of course. And it’s never wrong to give oneself a gift, is it?…
Talking about tours:
It is high time to book if you are interested in next season’s first tour, the unique truffles, foie gras, duck and wine tour. Register-before date is December 1 so don’t delay. We’ve just published handful of videos that will give you a flavour of what the program contains.
See more below. And a little bit later in the year you have the Portugal tour if you prefer.
PS: Recommend to your friends to read the Brief or forward it to them !
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