» Vintage Watch VI
By Gregory Dal Piaz
The heatwave that had gripped the Northern Rhone valley did in fact break last week and this week continues the fine cooler weather that followed it.
Last Week's Forecast
Driving through the vineyards of Zin, Chardonnay and Pinot (along with some Sauv Blanc) up in Alexander Valley, DCV and RRV this weekend, the bunches were full, the grapes looked incredibly ripe and dark. Zin, a variety noted for uneven ripening, looked quite uniformly black-purple and big. I wanted to jump out of the car and start picking. Now it's very warm, so I expect that picking will indeed start very soon. No concerns about long hang times because our mild and dry winter and last year's perfect weather meant that we had early bud break and what looks to be impressive fruit set. Amazing how fast the fruit grew from the end of June when bunch closure came until now. I think it will be an epic year in Napa and Sonoma, with cool weather to slow the sugars and a long season for excellent phenolic mellowing. I think yields will be good but not quite as off the charts as last year. I think there will be fantastic deals on shiners and side projects by for-hire winemakers who want to put out their own wines, or who want to make something with someone else's fruit or a variety they don't usually get to play with from the 2012 season, then steady prices on the smaller but equally outstanding crop of 2013. They won't be able to raise prices that much with so much 2012 product still available.
Sad for France that they took the worst. C'est la vie. '09 and '10 were great back to back vintages for many of their wines, while everyone had a tougher time in '11, it seems.
Aug 19, 2013 at