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Château de Meursault, one of the largest estates in Burgundy, produces as many red wines as white wines, made respectively from the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. The 35 appellations including 18 Premiers Crus and 5 Grands Crus all come from our own vines in organic agriculture. In 2018, we reduced the weight of the bottle by 15% while preserving the originality of the model designed in the 18th century.
1 – Meteorological data and progress of the vegetative cycle
After a wet autumn and a rather mild winter (only 7 days with negative temperatures and -3.5°C at the coolest), the vines showed their first signs of recovery from March 20th. At this stage, we notice the plots located on hillsides are more ahead than those located on lowlands. Excessive rainfall during the winter allowed the soil’s water reserves to be replenished. At the end of March/beginning of April, a period of extreme mildness (27°C in the afternoon) led to an explosion of vegetation giving Chardonnays with a spread leaf.
Then the nights of April 6th to April 8th were terrible. The thermal amplitude was enormous, with temperatures going down to -6°C for sometimes more than 7 hours. It snowed 3 cm in Meursault at the beginning of the night and then it was -6°C at 2 am. Despite the mobilization to light the candles, the buds were burnt and a large part of the future harvest was lost on both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
After the frost, it was cool, even cold, until the week of April 27th, with still no sign of vegetation recovery. As expected, the vines on the hillsides were the most affected by the frost, as they were the most developped.
With a rainy month of May, the growth dynamic was variable with sometimes only 1 leaf out in 8 days. The cold weather (4°C below seasonal norms) and the lack of sunshine made 2021 one of the latest vintages. In mid-June, the sun and the heat finally arrived, leading to explosive growth. The vines were beautifully dark green, the rows are thicker.
On the estate, precise disbudding work is required from our winegrowers in order to save the maximum amount of harvest. The disbudding is hardly finished when the lifting of the vines has to start on our Meursault Perrières and Volnay Clos des Chênes. The first flowers appear around June 5th, the flowering passes very quickly and the phenomenon of coulure is frequent.
At the same time, a “tropical” atmosphere leads to diseases (oidium and mildew). We must remain very watchful and monitor our plots closely because the contact products we use are quickly washed away by the rain.
At the beginning of July, despite the disturbed weather, the growth of the branches is fast and the berries are getting bigger. At the end of July, the grapes have passed the stage of closure, they are then less sensitive to mildew but we must remain mindful because oidium seems to take over. On August 3rd, the veraison is late, we need to tighten up the action of the sulphurs because the weather remains favourable to diseases. In one month, there were 20 days of rain for only 7 days of sunshine.
As the sun and the heat returned on August 10th, we saw the first Pinot Noir logs turn red. On August 25th, the veraison is underway in all sectors, the soil work and treatments are stopped and we actively prepare the winery, the harvest is approaching ….
2- Harvest, Vinification and Maturation
In order to perfectly grasp the 2021 vintage, we started taking maturity samples on September 6th, in our 80 plots, each plot twice a week, in order to decide the optimal harvest date for each plot. Decisions about harvest dates were complicated. Indeed:
– There was some heterogeneity from one terroir to another.
– Despite a very low yield, the Chardonnays are in late and we probably have to harvest the Pinots Noirs first.
– The sanitary state remains fragile with some outbreaks of botrytis. We will therefore have to take the weather conditions into account in our thinking.
On the 65 hectares of the estate, the harvest started on September 21st on our parcels of Beaune Toussaints and Volnay Clos des Chênes and ended on September 30th for our red Savigny plots. Due to the various climatic hazards, the harvest was very small throughout the estate. We harvested only 3 casks on 1.12 ha of Meursault Perrières.
For our reds, the optical sorting of the harvest was essential in order to put only the healthiest and ripest grapes in the vat.
After a 5-day cold maceration, the alcoholic fermentation was gentle and regular without too much punching down, essentially pumping over to gently extract the best tannins. After a vatting period of almost 20 days, the wines were then placed into oak barrels to complete their maturation on the lees.
The Chardonnay was harvested quickly (in 5 days). After manual sorting, pressing and settling, the alcoholic fermentation took place in the barrel for 10 to 15 days depending on the terroir. Aged on lees, the stirring of the lees is done on a case by case basis, each cuvée being unique.
Today, we have well-balanced wines. The 2021 vintage is characterised by a great aromatic freshness. The acidity is perceived, the whites are well chiselled, the tannins of the reds are silky with a good concentration of fruit due to the low yields.
This 2021 vintage will delight the palate from its youth and will reach its peak in 4 to 5 years.
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