Back News From the Burgundy Harvest - Anthony Hanson MW

Published on 5 September, 2018

The Fine Wine Experience Senior Consultant Anthony Hanson MW is in Burgundy and reports on the progress of the 2018 harvest in what - like 2017 - looks like a large, healthy crop. It’s too early to talk about vintage style and quality, but we thought you might appreciate his update, together with some photos of the harvest underway.

© Nina Slavcheva

First impressions, 2018 Burgundy harvest

Some early-ripening vineyards in Meursault were harvested before the weekend 25/26 August, but most domaines got under way the following week. Top Volnay plots, along with some Côte de Nuits vineyards like Bonnes Mares and Clos des Lambrays were being picked by 29/30 August.
These very early start-dates relate to the early flowering in May and the torrid heat periods of June and August. These allowed sugars to build up steadily and impressively. 

Left: Between the rows, perfect weather for picking Musigny 2018, Comte Georges de Vogüé, Sat, 1st Sept.
Right: Immaculate, healthy Pinot bunches in Musigny, Comte Georges de Vogüé, Sat, 1st Sept.

Photos courtesy of Anthony Hanson MW
The flowering itself appeared to have been marred by intermittent rains, however, these proved to have been something of a blessing in disguise. A very large number of potential bunches had appeared on the vines in the Spring. This could have resulted in excessive cropping, bringing dilution – until nature thinned out the harvest.
At this stage it is impossible to generalise, but first impressions are that the crop of whites may be bigger than last year's generous crop, with reds being comparable in size. 
The health of grapes of both colours is magnificent, with very little need for big teams on the sorting tables. The August heat-waves resulted in some shrivelled berries, but these can be shaken away, thanks to sorting tables which vibrate. The rain-affected flowering means that some bunches on any vine are at different stages of ripening, when they are picked. For the reds, this meant that the bunch turned colour progressively over 7-10 days – such bunches need the sharp eyes of sorters, to eliminate them.
Most Domaines on the Côte de Nuits are getting under way with picking from 1st September onwards.  Burgundy was broadly spared frost and hail damage in 2018 – though Givry had some hail, and so – more seriously – did the southern 1st Growths of Nuits-Saint-Georges, including those in Prémeaux. It is too early to say what crop percentages have been lost.
On a happier note, and as you may see from the photos, the grapes look truly fantastic, with many small Pinot berries. There are lots of smiles in the wineries. It looks like a second lovely vintage on the trot. Of course there’ll be variations in quality and style – these will become apparent once fermentations have happened. 
The weather has alternated: blustery, overcast, sunny and hot, always dry. So far, it's been ideal for both fruit and pickers. 

Madame Marie de Ladoucette, owner and co-gérante Domaine Comte Georges de Vogüé at the sorting table, 1st Sept. 2018. Grapes so healthy, very few need discarding this year. Photo courtesy of Anthony Hanson MW

Musigny Comte Georges de Vogüé grapes arriving at winery 1st Sept. 2018, looking in perfect condition. Photo courtesy of Anthony Hanson MW