In these COVID-19 times, it’s important to get some feet-on-the-ground views from Burgundy.
I will be in Bourgogne in a few weeks to gather additional first-hand information from growers, and while the 2020 time frame does look like 2007, the growing conditions this have – so far – been a lot drier.
My guest writer is Mark Thomson, who was previously part-owner of a domaine and is now enjoying working freelance after 27 years in Burgundy.
Here is however Mark’s view of 2020 so far in June:
Bunch closure as the French border opens up
A smile on the faces of vignerons in Burgundy is slowly returning as lockdown is relaxed.
Bars, restaurants and hotels are all re-opening, allowing those with a passion to taste to do so in Burgundy again, where the wines are made. As to the 2020 season with its potentially generous crop, it continues to parallel 2007’s time-line, with growers looking to pick towards the end of August, depending on their interpretation of maturity.
For those who like statistics, there are four stages in grape development: Bud burst to flowering is typically 250 day-degrees (day-degrees are the accumulation of temperatures above 10°C; Burgundy has an average of 1200 at harvest); full flowering to bunch closure is 500 day-degrees, followed by a five-week period leading to veraison (colour change and berry softening) which is temperature-independent. The fourth stage is temperature-driven, and ultimately determines the vintage and its quality. This year may also see some green harvesting: removal of excess bunches to control quality and ensure meeting yield limits of a given appellation.
In the Côte d’Or there is great variation among individual growers’ parcels and the way they manage their vines. The restrictions on herbicides have led to a lot more ploughing and manual work.
As a worker, I try to analyse each parcel of vines I am responsible for in order to get the best grapes. I weigh bunches, and count how many are on each vine. At the end of the day, what we do in the vineyards will be reflected in your glass. So for those in Europe: Come and enjoy all that is good here! For those less able to travel, 2020 will be interesting to taste in ten years.
Mark Thompson, Burgundy grower