The 2023 harvest has been strangely disparate, and while there has been sparse activity for two weeks, it is only the last days that one sees considerable action in the Côte de Beaune, and the start of picking the top-end crus all the way up to Gevrey-Chambertin.
We’re now seeing harvesting from Maranges to Gevrey, and this widespread movement reflects the dilemma of the 2023 vintage: uneven phenolic ripeness versus falling acidity in the grapes.
Notably, Comte Liger-Belair in Vosne-Romanée has pulled out all the stops and is harvesting at full speed through to Tuesday next week, aiming to keep balancing acidity and freshness in the wines. Domaine Bizot, also in Vosne-Romanée, launched its harvest a week ago, illustrating the apparent ripeness divergence.
One good thing is that alcohol levels have not gone through the roof – yet. This is a question of time, however, with the weather forecast predicting 30+ Celsius for the next week.
So the battle is to get the phenolics ripe – i.e. aromatic ripeness, complexity, and delicacy – before the acidity evaporates in the Burgundian sun.
Harvest in many places has modified away from all-day picking to a largely morning activity to avoid the worst of the heat. Many estates are starting at 7 a.m. and working through to 2 p.m., followed by lunch and the afternoon off. The grapes are getting too hot in the afternoon sun, as are the pickers. And yes: it is HOT.
It’s a battle, and the fruit’s development will accelerate as temperatures remain high in the coming week. Things still look good, but a question mark has started to loom regarding the acidity in the reds.
Many estates plan to start this weekend, September 8-11: the harvest Big Bang!
Good luck to all!