Harvest reports 2001

Vintage Guides Learning Wine Wine Reports
  • Thursday 20 September 2001

Portugal (including Port) updated 28 November; northern and southern Rhône updated 22 November 2001; Austria updated 22 November 2001

Bordeaux | Graves - Red | Médoc | Bordeaux - white | St-Emilion | Bordeaux - sweet white | Entre-deux-Mers | Loire | Champagne | Burgundy | Northern Rhône | Southern Rhône | Italy - Piedmont | Italy - Tuscany | Italy - Veneto | Italy - Liguria | Italy - Puglia, Campania, Basilicata, Molise | Italy - Sicily | Italy - Trentino And Friuli-Venezia-Giulia | Italy - Umbria and Lazio | Italy - Bardolino | Italy - Franciacorta |Portugal (including Port) | California - Napa | California - Sonoma | Washington State | New York State | Virginia |Germany | Austria | Spain - Rioja | Spain - Ribera Del Duero | Spain - Navarra | Spain - others | United Kingdom | Hungary - Tokaji

BORDEAUX
20 September 2001

Picking
Harvesting of Sauvignon Blanc in Pessac Leognan began on 7 September. Other appellations began picking Sauvignon Blanc on 10 September closely followed by the start of the Semillons on 13 September.
Appellations where the soil contains more sand and gravel - Pessac-Léognan, Lalande de Pomerol, Pomerol and St Emilion - start picking Malbec and Merlot today. 24 September will see the start for other red appellations along with the sweet white appellations. For the remaining grape varieties including the Medoc, harvesting will begin on 1 October.

Weather
The good weather continues. Warm sunny days and cool nights set the scene for the beginning of the harvest.

Ripeness
Maturation of the grapes during August has been assisted by 233 hours of sunshine with temperatures averaging around 22.6°C and rainfall at 39.4mm. This compares favourably with records over the past 30 years showing averages of 249 hours of sunshine, 19.9°C and 55mm rain during the same period.

Predictions
Whilst it is too early to predict the overall quality of the 2001 vintage, early reports indicate that the grapes are being delivered to the wineries in excellent condition, with good maturity and natural sugar.

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MÉDOC
Alan Spencer
16 October 2001

2001 has been a late harvest. On Monday 15 October, some Médoc vintners (as opposed to Haut-Médoc), with vineyards in colder, more backward terroirs, still had a few plots to finish picking. Fortunately, hot, sunny weather the previous week, exceptional for a second week in October, brought the grapes to excellent phenolic maturity.

Picking
The Merlot and Petit Verdot were excellent this year, the Cabernets more difficult. Unlike 2000, this year may be more uneven, known as a 'vigneron's vintage' – the majority who worked their vineyards well throughout the year are likely to benefit from a great vintage. The few who did not may pay the price of negligence.br />
Weather
According to Vincent Fabre of the Médoc & Haut-Médoc Syndicat, such phenolic maturity predicts a powerful vintage, more masculine than the 2000. The important factor, he believes, is the exceptional finesse of the tannins this year. Although the summer was less sunny than hoped for, rainfall was limited. On the other hand, cool nights followed by hot, sunny days in early September, typical of the micro-climate on the Médoc peninsular with wide expanses of water on both sides, were particularly beneficial. This alternating heat and freshness has given the fruit its sturdy qualities.

Ripeness
Yield has been unexpectedly low and potential alcohol correct, which are not necessarily bad signs. The Cabernet grapes were small with less juice than anticipated but phenolic maturity in the skins and pips is excellent.

Predictions
If 2000 was a feminine vintage, 2001 will be more masculine, probably close to 1998.

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GRAVES - RED
Alan Spencer
9 October 2001

Francis Boutemy of Château Haut Lagrange reports the harvest was generally about a week later than last year and those who delayed longer appear to have been recompensed. Wind and hot weather prevented rot from causing serious damage.

Picking
The red harvest is almost home. Most châteaux will have finished picking at the end of the day on 9 October. As on the right bank, where it is the major grape, the Merlot has shown great promise this year with a good tannin index and high potential alcohol. After a fine, hot weekend, the last of the Cabernet was being picked in a good state.

Weather
Recent uncertain weather conditions with alternate heavy rain followed by bright, hot periods, caused vintners a great deal of concern over the sanitary state of the Cabernet.

Ripeness
The Cabernet's vegetative cycle was temporarily arrested and there were serious signs of botrytis. However, Cabernet is less susceptible to rot than Merlot.

Predictions
A lower tannin index and potential alcohol between 11° - 12° suggest the red will be more fruity this year, less heavily concentrated but with good balance and finesse. On the whole, Nature has not been generous. There was more skin and pulp than juice, but the soft fruitiness of the must and its deep colour augurs well for the final blend. On the whole, the Graves vintage 2001 is likely to have more fruit and refinement than concentration and fat.

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BORDEAUX - WHITE
12 September 2001
Alan Spencer

Picking
Picking the white grapes in the Graves area began on 10 September. The grand crus in Pessac-Léognan started a few days earlier. Most of the Sauvignon has already been picked and should be finished by early next week.

Weather
The relatively wet weather this year is favourable to the white harvest. Denis Dubourdieu of the Faculty of Oenology, and owner of Château Reynon, said, '2001 will undoubtedly be a white wine year. The berries are small but particularly aromatic. I have not seen grapes with such good sugar/acid balance since 1976. The vintage this year (for the whites) will in fact be very similar to the 1976.'
A violent storm in August did no serious damage and since the vines had already stopped growing, the heavy rain had no detrimental effect on the state of the grapes. On the other hand, the weather in August with cool nights and warm days, according to Dubourdieu, has been particularly favourable in bringing the grapes to full maturity.

Ones to watch
The Sémillon, which represents a smaller proportion (20%) of the final blend, will not be ready for another week, but the berries are looking very fine and healthy and are already at 13° (Baumé scale).

Predictions
The majority of vines planted in recent years have been red varieties; the white vines are older and therefore produce less. 2001 should therefore be an excellent vintage for the white, but short.

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ST-EMILION
23 October 2001
James Lawther MW

The good weather continued through the week of 8 October allowing the harvest to finish in clement conditions. Botrytis was still a menace particularly in vineyards that were overcropped.

Picking
A good percentage of the Cabernet Franc was picked the week of 1 October.

Weather
Mainly sunshine and unseasonally high temperatures, 20C and above, throughout the first two weeks of October.

Ripeness
'There's quite a variation between the different parcels with the old vines clearly superior' said Alexandre Thienpont of Vieux Château Certan. The Cabernet Franc at top estates looks very good. 'We had degrees of 13-13.8° and feel that it could even be better than last year,' said Emanuelle D'Aligny, oenologist and assistant winemaker at Château Angélus.

Predictions
'The difference was in the vineyards this year,'said oenologist Gilles Pauquet, consultant to Château Cheval Blanc. 'Those that correctly handled yields and resisted botrytis have produced some attractive wines but overall quality is very uneven.'

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5 October 2001
James Lawther MW

Right Bank producers who have finished harvesting will sleep easier this weekend (6/7 October). Sunshine interspersed with three notable bouts of rain have meant a growing threat of botrytis. 'We're on the edge of respectable maturity running into botrytis if the weather turns again so there's no point in hanging on now,' warned Nicolas Thienpont of Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé Château Pavie-Macquin.

Picking
As predicted vintners in Pomerol and the earlier ripening sites in Saint-Emilion started harvesting the week of 24 September with one or two (Angélus, Vieux Château Certan) making a tentative start the week before. Others held out until 1 October with a few courageous late harvesters still gambling on the week of 8 October. The majority of châteaux in Pomerol, including properties belonging to négociant J-P Moueix had finished by 2 October (Pétrus was harvested 27 and 28 September). In Saint-Emilion a good percentage of the Merlot has been harvested and a start made on the Cabernet Franc.

Weather
Weather conditions over a two week period (24 September-5 October) have on the whole been good. There have been several warm, sunny days with temperatures rising to an unseasonal high of 28C on 1 and 2 of October. On the down side, rain fell on 23 (40-60mm) and 28 September and 3 October (15-30mm).

Ripeness
In well-tended vineyards sugar levels for the Merlot appear to be good. At Château Angélus the first cuvées ranged from 13.8° to 14.6° while at Clos Puy Arnaud in the Côtes de Castillon from 12.8° to 13.4°. 'From what I've seen so far there's good colour and degrees, a fantastic aromatic potential and firmness in the tannins,' said Philippe Raymond, oenologist at the Syndicat Viticole de Saint-Emilion. It was still too early to comment on the Cabernet Franc.

Predictions
There will be plenty of variation depending on harvest dates and the amount of work done in the vineyards. The vintage will not attain the rich confit ripeness of 2000 but could approach something of the 1996 or 1998 with freshness and aroma significant features.

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14 September 2001
James Lawther MW

Producers in St-Emilion and other Right Bank appellations are having to play the waiting game in 2001. Latest forecasts for the harvest have a limited start for the more advanced vineyards pencilled in for 20 September, with the week of 24 September noted as the key starting date. Some producers may hold off until the beginning of October. 'It's a late harvest compared to the last three or four years but within the 30-year average,' François Despagne of Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Château Grand Corbin-Despagne said.

Picking
Around the different terroirs and appellations the graves, limestone plateau and less clayey côtes zones of Saint-Emilion look promising. Vineyards on sandier soils show a definite delay in maturity which could be a problem. Producers in Pomerol will harvest a little later this year – from 24 September. Some of the later-ripening regions (Fronsac, Côtes de Francs, Castillon, Saint-Emilion satellites and parts of Saint-Emilion with a dominance of clay) may not harvest until the first week in October.

'The situation is optimistic if conditions hold, vineyards have been properly managed and producers are willing to wait,' said Yves Glories, dean of Bordeaux's Faculté d'Oenologie.

Weather
Rainy winter and an early spring, but the sunny, dry conditions in May and June allowed the vines to regain a more normal cycle. Flowering took place swiftly in the early days of June but there was some later incidence of coulure and millerandage. Rain and fluctuating temperatures in July resulted in a late and uneven véraison, which meant a delay in ripeness. August was hot and dry and the first two weeks of September warm and sunny with cool overnight temperatures resulting in a slow but steady maturity. As usual much now hangs on the late season weather.

Ripeness
Sugar levels vary according to the terroir but there is a surprisingly high anthocyanin count meaning good colour. Grape skins are less robust than last year meaning a threat of botrytis should it rain heavily during the harvest. A degree of green harvesting and leaf plucking was necessary to curb vigour and help ripeness.

Predictions
'There will be a big difference this year between vineyards that have been correctly cultivated and those that haven't,' says Hubert de Boüard, president of the Syndict Viticole de Saint-Emilion and co-owner of Saint-Emilion Premier Grand Crus Classé Château Angélus.

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BORDEAUX - SWEET WHITE
22 October 2001
Alan Spencer

Picking
According to vintners who have both red and sweet white, 2001 could be the sweet white vintage of the century. Picking began in most parts (left bank: Sauternes, Cerons, Barsac; right bank: Saint-Croix-du-Mont, Loupiac, Cadillac) on the first of October and continued almost without interruption until last Friday (19 Oct). A few late parcels at the foot of slopes are being picked now. Botrytized wines are picked in several runs, selecting each time only those grapes which have reached the right stage of noble rot (botrytis). Sometimes, at Yquem for instance, there may be as many as ten different selections (called tris).

Weather
The exceptional weather conditions this year with hot sunny days and virtually no rain at harvest time meant that the grapes could be picked in as few as two or at most three tris. The grapes needed to be gathered quickly because potential alcohol was very high, as much as 21-22° with barely an interruption between the tris.

Ripeness
Noble rot was uniform and not spoilt by rain. In addition the favourable east wind dried out the grapes from the morning dew, dispersing the mist which bring the botrytis.

Predictions
'It is as yet early to make a definitive appraisal,' Patrick Jean of Domaine du Noble, president of the Loupiac Syndicat, said. 'But after tasting the wine already in fermentation, I can say there is plenty of substance, full of richness and finesse. It is as good as, probably better than the great 1990 vintage and could be similar to the mythical 1929 which I tasted recently.'

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Sauternes

23 October 2001
James Lawther MW

Following the disappointing 2000 vintage Sauternes producers are delighted with 2001. 'The botrytis is extremely pure, the juice delicious and the aromas sublime,' said Xavier Ponty, manager of Premier Cru Château Guiraud.

Picking
The harvest period has been relatively short this year. The first tris started mid-September and were followed by a concerted burst during the week of 8 October. 'We picked 70% of the harvest that week,' said Xavier Ponty. A number of estates finished the week of 15 October, others like Yquem and Climens hope to finish this week.

Weather
Rain and unseasonally high temperatures at the end of September and beginning of October provoked a uniform attack of noble rot. This was concentrated by warm, sunny weather and a steady breeze.

Ripeness
Degrees of 20-23° were normal this year inciting producers to include some 'greener' grapes to provide balance.

Predictions
'There are all the signs of a great vintage,' said Xavier Ponty. Comparisons are already being made with 1990 and 1989.

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5 October 2001
James Lawther MW

The alternating conditions of sunshine and rain have so far benefited producers in Sauternes. 'Since 27 September the noble rot has really taken off and we are now 80 percent affected in our vineyards,' said Xavier Ponty, manager of Premier Cru Château Guiraud. 'But what we need now is wind and no more rain,' he added.

Picking
The first tris started mid-September. A little Sauvignon was harvested at Château Guiraud on 12 September and pickers at Château d'Yquem were in the vineyards on 18 and 19 September. Selective harvesting has continued since.

Weather
Rain on Friday 28 September with exceptional heat the following Monday and Tuesday really helped the noble rot to develop.

Ripeness
'We are happy with the first lot of 30 barrels which have a potential of 23°,' said David Marc, assistant cellar master at Château d'Yquem.

Predictions
There is great aromatic potential and a purity in the noble rot at present but all now depends on the weather. It is likely that the crop will be smaller than in 1998 and 1999.

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ENTRE-DEUX-MERS
1 October
Alan Spencer

White Bordeaux (including Entre-deux-Mers) was mostly picked last week, before the reds.

Picking
Picking began oin 27 September. The white grapes had to be outsorted because there were indications of potential rot. Viticultors needed to be vigilant, spraying and thinning to prevent centres of infection appearing. For them the vintage should be good to excellent. Where vintners did not limit yield and did not sort the grapes, the wines may be disappointing.

Weather
Fortunately October came in hot and sunny. Vintners are hoping the fine weather will hold until picking is completed at the end of the week.

Ripeness
The reds were at optimum ripeness (as much as 14% potential alcohol), compensated by high acidity. The crop needed to be picked fast because overmaturity could cause the skins to burst, introducing infection.

Predictions
Particularly in warmer soils, gravel and sand, the vintage appears almost as good as last year (2000).

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LOIRE
updated 29 October 2001
Jim Budd

The quality of the 2001 Loire vintage varies dramatically from region to region. With the possible exception of Muscadet, where conditions were very favourable, this is certainly a year when skills and dedication of a good vigneron will show through. Lazy or greedy producers will have had a nightmare this year.

Picking
Noël Pinguet of Domaine Huet in Coteaux du Layon, says, 'We are leaving between 35%-50% of the crop on the ground and hoping to pull something out of the fire.' Many Vouvray producers have finished the harvest.

Weather
The forecast in in the Coteaux du Layon for the week beg. 29 October is favourable - no rain, mist in mornings and warm afternoons. Conditions have been very difficult in Vouvray. 'The problem was a very warm and humid early October which encouraged rot,' says Pinguet of Domaine Huet.Conditions in Saumur Champigny and Chinon have not been easy with rain at the end of September and early October. However, settled fine weather in mid-October was very helpful. The increasing incidence of rot meant a rapid harvest for most.

Ripeness
The styles made in Vouvray this year will be sec and demi-sec as well as sparkling. It is unlikely that there will be any sweet wines made. In contrast, there may be some good sweet wines made in the Coteaux du Layon this year. 'This could be a great year,' says Bernard Germain of Château de Fesles in Bonnezeaux. 'The first tris has already yielded 22° potential alcohol.' Here the harvest will continue well into November, so a settled spell of weather may well allowed producers to make some fine sweet wines.

Predictions
Saumur Champigny and Chinon – the wines are likely to be ready to drink young with of average to a little above average quality but 2001 is certainly not a great vintage in these appellations.

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updated 17 October 2001
Jim Budd

After an easy and relaxed harvest, Muscadet producers are happy while 250 miles further east Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé have had a difficult time. 'Une année de merde!' said leading Sancerre producer, Alphonse Mellot, referring to the late summer weather.

Picking
Picking in Muscadet was finished before the rain at the end of September and beginning of October. 'We picked very healthy grapes with no rot,' says Pierre Luneau of Domaine Pierre de la Grange. 'The grapes had 12 degrees potential alcohol which is exceptional for Muscadet. Acidity levels are higher than usual.'

Weather
Rain, warmth and humidity in August and September destroyed hopes of a promising vintage and brought a late attack of mildew and widespread rot. 'After a very severe selection 2001 is a small harvest for us,' adds Mellot, 'an average of 30 hls for the Pinot Noir and 40 hls for the Sauvignon. However, overall the harvest in Sancerre will be of average quantity with a likely yield of between 60-65 hls. Benoit Roumet, director of the Comité du Centre says that fine weather at the end of harvest saved the situation. 'The wines will be for early drinking with lower acidity than 2000,' Roumet predicts. In contrast Muscadet had a drier August and September with dry weather during the harvest for the early ripening Melon de Bourgogne.

Ripeness
Quality may well very variable in Pouilly and Sancerre this year as much will depend upon how carefully the producers tended their vines. Anyone seeking to exploit the present big demand for these wines by going for a large crop is likely to have made thin, unripe wines.
In Touraine the grapes had to be picked very quickly as stem rot was developing, causing bunches to fall. 'We harvested in two weeks,' says Catherine Roussel of the Clos Roche Blanche in the Cher Valley. 'Normally it lasts three to four weeks. We are reasonably happy. Our Gamay was picked at between 11 and 12 degrees, the Sauvignon between 12.5 and 13 degrees and the Côt at 12 degrees.' Producers in eastern Touraine, who were hit by frost in April and hail later, will have made little wine.
The harvest for the sweet wines in the Layon and l'Aubance is just beginning but conditions are currently ideal with misty mornings and warm, dry sunny days. The forecast for the weekend is less promising. However, top producers expect that the harvest will extend at into November. Furthermore Chenin Blanc is remarkably resistant to adverse conditions.

Predictions
As predicted there will be between 100,000-150,000 hls less Muscadet than usual because of April frosts and a cool spring but the quality should be good with the best wines ageing well.

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updated 23 September 2001
Jim Budd

Nantes – Muscadet

Update
23 September 2001
Christian Chabirand of the Comité Interprofessionnel de Vins de Nantes reports that they are now about half way through the harvest. This week will see most of the rest of the Melon de Bourgogne picked. The weather has remained dry with day-time temperatures around 22-25C and nights around 12-13C, which is a little warmer than last week. Quality looks to be above average while quantity is significantly down.

Picking
The harvest in Muscadet started on 7 September. For the moment only a few growers in the earliest-ripening vineyards are picking.

Weather
Throughout the Loire the year has been very wet. In the Nantes area a record 146 mms of rain fell in March alone. From October 2000 to March 2001 more than 840 mms fell - another record. It was a very mild winter with almost no frost.

Budburst for the Melon de Bourgogne was around 30 March, three or four days later than in 2000. On 19 and 20 April frost hit parts of the Muscadet vineyards. This, combined with the rain that continued to fall into May, means that the harvest will be significantly lower than normal: 520,000 - 550,000 hl against 650,000 - 700,000 hl in a normal year.

Much of July was disappointing but the weather improved in August, especially in the second half of August. The Muscadet growers will be hoping that the fine weather continues for the next fortnight.

Anjou-Saumur

Update
23 September 2001
Little has been picked as yet. Christophe Daviau at Domaine de Bablut in Brissac, reports that he will be starting to pick Chardonnay for vin de pays early this week and that Sauvignon Blanc and Gamay will follow. He does not expect to start picking the Cabernet until early October. The grapes are very healthy but the cool nights are slowing down ripening.

Picking
Picking the early varieties, Chardonnay and Gamay, will not start for another 10 to 15 days.

Weather
Currently the weather is fine but cool nights are slowing maturity. Anjou largely escaped the April frosts but parts of the Saumur and Saumur-Champigny appellations were hit. Cabernet suffered from some coulure (the flower failing to set). The vignerons are encouraged that, after exceptionally high rainfall since last October, it has now been dry for six weeks.

Touraine

Update
23 September 2001
As in Anjou-Saumur little has been picked yet. Over the last week some growers have started picking Chardonnay for base wines for méthode traditionnel.

Picking
Expected to start in late September.

Weather
Parts of eastern Touraine and Cheverny were badly hit by April frosts followed by some dramatic hailstorms at the end of May, so some areas will have a very small harvest. As elsewhere in the Loire there has been a lot less mildew this year than last.

Sancerre and Pouilly

Update
23 September 2001
Here the harvest will be at least a week later than in 1999 and 2000. Arnaud Bourgeois (Domaine Bourgeois - Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre) reports that they started picking on 23 September in 1999 and two days later the following year.
This year Bourgeois expects to start on 1 October in the early ripening vineyards on flinty soils. Because conditions were favourable at the time of flowering, the crop is potentially quite large but Bourgeois says many producers have recently carried out a green harvest. This will be especially important for the Pinot Noir, if producers want to make anything other than a light red.

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CHAMPAGNE
Giles Fallowfield
5 November 2001

Fortunately the abundant crop has enabled growers to leave the rotten fruit on the vines and still reach the maximum yield of 11,000 kilos per hectare. The Comite Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) expects this level to be reached throughout the appellation. Huge potential yields, as high as 20,000 kilos per hectare in some places, have however added to the difficulty in ripening fruit. It wasn't just rain in September, there was 'more rain in the first six months of 2001 than in the whole or the previous year,' says Elizabeth Sarcelet, winemaker at the Reims co-operative.
Moët & Chandon's chief winemaker Georges Blanck says 'it was a difficult harvest with unfortunate climatic conditions and uneven quality across the appellation'. However after pressing 'the resulting juices are clean, without any bad taste or defects.'
The southern part of the Montagne de Reims was undoubtedly the most difficult area, says Blanck, with widespread 'unripe and rotten fruit, particularly the Pinot Noir.' Pinot Muenier and Chardonnay fared better with 'the best ripeness and they were less susceptible to botrytis. The Pinot Noir situation is more difficult with the high yields increasing sensitivity to rot and seriously limiting the ripeness potential.'

Weather
Further heavy rain during picking, after a very wet period during the first three weeks in September, has further diluted what was already a pretty poor quality harvest in Champagne. Lower than normal temperatures at the start of the month slowed ripening and kept sugar levels down, while disease problems worsened as it warmed up when picking generally began on September 24.

Picking
For Moet, the harvest lasted for two weeks, starting on September 24 and finishing on October 7. The 600 growers belonging to the co-operative at Reims also picked in under two weeks between September 25 and October 6. It was a similar picture for Michel Drappier in the Côte des Bar town of Urville in the southernmost part of the Appellation, where they started on September 26 and finished on October 5.

Ripeness
Average sugar levels were lower than usual at 'an average of 8.5 degrees', says Elizabeth Sarcelet. 'This compares with 9.5 degrees in 2000, around 9 degrees in 1999 and 10.5 degrees in 1996,' the last top quality vintage in Champagne.
Michel Drappier says, 'We reached 9.2% alcohol potential in a few places but most musts came in at 8.7%. Pinot Meunier was ripe because the yield was low. Pinot Noir was good, average or poor depending on the volume produced per hectare, while Chardonnay was rather green.
'Ripeness levels are low with an average of just 8.5 degrees,' says Georges Blanck at Moet.

Predictions
'Personally I'd compare 2001 with 1994 rather than 1987, which was much more limited with a lower average maturity. Compared with 1978 or 1981, there is a big difference and that's the large quantity of grapes in 2001,' says Georges Blanck.
For Drappier champagnes, '2001 is inferior to 78, superior to 81, equivalent to 87 and much better than 94.'
'There will almost certainly no vintage this year,' says Michel Drappier, 'but the final decision will be made in April 2002. We may have a good surprise as some wines already fermented are interesting.'

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Giles Fallowfield
25 September 2001

After the wettest year in Champagne since 1873, prospects for the harvest did not look good the week before picking started, with botrytis problems adding to the difficulties. Growers report 'English weather', with about 10mm of rain a day, attacks of botrytis, and water-engorged grapes that don't have enough sun to ripen. But with such a huge crop, there is still a chance to make decent wine.

Picking
The CIVC, Champagne's controlling body, sets a start date each village in the Appellation. Picking was due to start on 24 September although a few villages in the Côte de Sezanne district were able to start on 20 September. Because Pinot Noir is generally the least ripe of Champagne's three grapes, picking of this variety is latest. In the southern part of the Montagne de Reims it won't start before the end of the week, 28 September for Ambonnay and Bouzy and 29 September for Mailly.
In the Côte des Blancs village of Vertus, grower Pierre Larmandier did not start picking Chardonnay on 24 September but held off, hoping the grapes would dry. He reports that Duval-Leroy, which has the largest holdings in the village, has also delayed the start of picking by three days.
In Cramant, Larmandier reports ripeness levels are ten days apart in his holdings in two different parts of the village. Because of widely differing ripeness levels picking is expected to last longer than usual this harvest.

Weather
Record rainfall in the year to date, '70% higher than usual', says Möet's chief winemaker Georges Blanck. After a hot dry August, the first three weeks of September were very wet. They were also warm to start with, and then unusually cold. 'We had 60mm of rain in three days, the worse possible weather in the week before harvest,' says Ghislain de Montgolfier of Champagne Bollinger. 'Since the start of September we've had English weather, with 10mm of rain every day,' says Michel Drappier.
The weekend before picking was due to start the rain stopped however and the forecast is for a dry first week of harvest with temperatures rising gradually.

Ripeness
Ripeness levels are best for Pinot Muenier, although even these are at least a degree below normal. Blanck says 'Pinot Noir, particularly in Montagne de Reims villages like Mailly, Ambonnay and Bouzy has quite limited ripeness potential'. Pinot Muenier is much better.'
Before the harvest started Pinot Noir in the Côte des Bar had the highest ripeness levels in the whole Appellation, reports Michel Drappier. Pascal Agrapart, a grower in Avize, says sugar levels are down by 1.5 degrees at around 9.5. Larmandier usually gets at least 11degrees in his best old vineyard in Cramant but will be 'very happy to reach 10 deg this year'.
Yields will easily reach the set level of 11,000 kilos per hectare. Potential yields are twice this in some parts of the Appellation. There is a particularly large potential harvest of Chardonnay in the Côte des Blancs.

Predictions
No-one is predicting a high quality harvest and very little vintage champagne is expected to be made. Only those that pick carefully and selectively will make decent non-vintage wine for early consumption. Larmandier says this is the first year he knew he wouldn't make a vintage champagne a week before picking started.
'The use of blending reserve wine with the vintage will give a good level of quality for Brut NV,' says Laurent Gillet, president du directoire at Veuve A Devaux in Bar-sur-Seine.
At the other end of the Appellation in the village of Merfy, north-west of Reims, Elizabeth Chartogne-Taillet says, 'Although ripeness levels are lower than usual, so is acidity and the grapes are thus in balance. It's not a catastrophe – in fact it's a better year than 84 and 77. It's important to remember that every grower has half a harvest (5,500 kilos per hectare) in reserve. With 50% reserve wine in the blend good non-vintage champagne will be made.'
Jean-Baptiste Geoffroy, a grower in Cumières in the Vallée de la Marne says, 'All the years ending in 01 – 1971, 1981 and 1991 – have been difficult. In such years the real skills of the grower are to be seen. Anyone can make good wine in a good year.'

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NORTHERN RHONE
Lyn Parry
22 November 2001

'Vendange verte' (leaf and grape stripping) was practised regularly throughout the ripening season, so quantity was a little down on last year.winemaker Yves Cuilleron said, 'The harvest itself doesn't resemble 2000 due to the higher acidity levels and risk of rot but the resultant wines are similar. The whites are very good due to the good acidity levels. Vintages 2000 and 2001 are white wine years and 1999 for the reds.'Daniel Brissot at the Cave de Tain Hermitage said that it was 'a very, very good vintage. The grapes were healthy, sugar-rich, well-balanced with good liveliness due to the acidity. The reds are showing silky tannins, suppleness with good extraction of colour.'

Picking
White harvest began at Condrieu and St-Joseph on 17 September, about a week later than last year, followed by Crozes-Hermitage and then Hermitage.Red harvest began on 18 September with St-Joseph and Côte-Rôtie. Crozes-Hermitage and Hermitage followed on 27 September. The harvest, which was fairly long, continued through to the end of the first week of October.During the picking there was some rainfall mainly over the weekends of 22 and 29 September. The first rainfall didn't present a problem but after the second weekend of rain the pickers had to work quickly to get the grapes in before rot began to show. Those vineyards with small crops will not have suffered any major problems.Philippe Guigal said 'Most of the time sugar levels help the vigneron select the date to harvest, but this year the sanitary state of the grapes was the important indicator.'

Weather
A mild winter followed by a wet, warm spring without any frost, resulting in early budding. April was cold and dry, May was warm and damp with flowering starting around 21 May. Weather conditions in July were fresh and cloudy. Ripening began in late July and finished in early August. During a hot, dry August the temperatures reached over 33°C. This resulted in small berries with thick pellicules. However, there was sufficient rainfall and the vines were not stressed. September started sunny but cold yet remained dry and the grapes remained healthy with a good level of maturity and acidity.

Ripening
The grapes had reached a good level of maturity by the end of August. Condrieu in particular had excellent acidity.There was some irregularity in flowering and this meant that there was some millerandage. Therefore, throughout the summer it was very important to thin out the bunches to ensure even ripening and lessen the risk of rot.The grapes were harvested in good condition and the reds are highly coloured.

Conclusion
Condrieu producers are exceptionally pleased with wines that are complex, aromatic and well-balanced. There were less problems with rot with the whites during the harvest. The reds are showing good, elegant, round tannins. The 2001 vintage has produced classic reds that have a better keeping quality than 2000.Daniel Brissot concludes, 'The wines of 2001 will be pleasurable to drink young but will keep well like the 85 vintage. The quality is similar to that of 1999 but in a different style.'

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SOUTHERN RHONE
Lyn Parry
22 November 2001

'Si le mistral s'en mêle, les vendanges seront belles' (If the mistral blows, the harvest will be good). It did blow - it's been 30 years since the region has had such high winds during the harvest, with the mistral reaching speeds of over 50km/hr on some days. The cooling effect of this resulted in good concentration, and along with the fresh nights and sunny days the grapes reached good maturity. The winds also conserved the grapes in good healthy state although the yield is reduced. In some instances this can be up to 30% less than last year depending upon the grape variety. Premium producer Chapoutier reports, 'Syrah yields were an average 10 to 20% below their usual levels, whilst the drop-off in Grenache may exceed 50%. Our Châteauneuf-du-Pape vineyards produced less than half their usual harvest.'

Picking
In general picking started around 3 September, with Châteauneuf-du-Pape starting on 10 September. By then the harvest was well underway in the Gard but had only just started in Vaucluse. By 19 September the Gard was coming to the end of the harvest. At this stage this vintage showed good levels of alcohol, low yields and good acidity with Syrah showing good colour extraction and excellent fruitiness.

Weather
A mild autumn and winter was followed by a particularly warm yet wet spring above-average temperatures. By the beginning of April the growth cycle of the vine was in advance to that of previous years - with the exception of 1994 and 1997. May and June continued warm. In July heavy rainfall - and thunderstorms - accelerated the growth of the vine. August was dry and hot which resulted in the grapes reaching good maturity. At the beginning of September the mistral began to blow and continued over a period of 11 days.

Ripeness
Although the yield is down, especially for Syrah, the concentration of colour is higher than the last ten years and the level of acidity is good. The grapes arrived in a healthy state and there is good potential, particularly for the reds.

Predictions
Oenologist Michèle Olivetti said, 'the reds have lots of colour, are full-bodied with a lovely dark fruit flavours and good elegant tannins. The whites are also full-flavoured, and the rosés are delicately fruity.'Michel Blanc of La Maison de Châteauneuf-du-Pape predicts that 2001 will be similar to 2000 - well-balanced, full-bodied, round and with ripe tannins.Vintage 2001 has been more favourable for reds than whites, even though there have been some very good whites produced in the cooler regions such as Côtes de Ventoux and Luberon. The reds, however, have good concentration of colour and flavours.

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BURGUNDY
4 October
Natasha Hughes

The consensus across Burgundy, from Gevrey-Chambertin in the north to Chassagne-Montrachet in the south, is that this is a good, but not exceptional year for both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Variable weather conditions across the region left winemakers on a knife edge until harvest time. In the end, September came good and there was enough sunshine to bring the grapes to optimum ripeness after a somewhat damp and changeable summer.
'It's been a slightly tricky year,' says Philippe Drouhin-Laroze of Gevrey-Chambertin's Drouhin-Laroze. 'In the end, the quality of the finished product will depend on the skill of the winemaker.'

Picking
Harvesting of both Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Beaune began around 22/23 September. While the start of the vendange was a week later than it had been the previous year, the timing was well within normal limits. The harvest in the Côte de Nuits began a day or two later, around 24 September, finishing by 1 October.

Weather
Conditions until late May were ideal in Beaune, with an early start to bud-break in quick-ripening, south-facing plots across Burgundy. A frost in early June, lasting just over a week, halted the process, with the result that much of the early growth had to be pruned.
Although flowering started up again, the end result was irregular ripeness. Things improved, however: a hot, wet summer brought on vigorous growth, and fine weather in September ensured the grapes had ripened well by harvest-time.
The pattern was largely similar in the Côte de Nuits, although the flowering in late spring was more even. However, the dampness of July and August raised questions as to whether or not sufficient ripeness would be achieved. A return to sunnier conditions in September picked things up again, and although the harvest period was quite chilly, little rain fell, ensuring that the grapes were picked in good condition.

Ripeness
'There's good maturity in both the Pinot and the Chardonnay,' says Jean-Claude Mitanchey, head winemaker at the Domaine du Château de Mersault. 'The sugar levels seem to be good, so I foresee hardly any need for further chaptalisation.' Drouhin-Laroze says that his Pinot grapes are 'very fruity and ripe, with a good colour.'

Predictions
According to Mitanchey, 'The whites this year, on the whole, will perhaps be better than the reds. But the good reds will be stunning.' In terms of drawing parallels with other recent vintages, Mitanchey compares the 2001 harvest with that of 1999 and 2000.
Drouhin-Laroze is spreading his bets. 'It's hard to say at this stage how things will turn out. But in my opinion, bearing in mind the weather conditions we've had this year, this vintage will be a cocktail of the 97, 98 and 99 ones in terms of quality.'

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ITALY - PIEDMONT
1 October
Natasha Hughes

'Throughout the 1990s we've had really good vintages,' says Giovanni Sandri, a Monforte-based winemaker best known for his Barolos and Dolcettos, 'but this will definitely be one of the best. Right across the board, it looks like it's going to be a good crop.'Giandomenico Negro, a Piedmont-based consultant oenologist, disagrees. 'I think it's going to be a very variable year, although it's almost certainly going to be a great vintage for whites.'The source of their disagreement lies in the nature of Piedmont's topography: the extremely hilly nature of the region creates a range of micro-climates that varies from vineyard to vineyard. Each winemaker must make his own personal assessment of the ideal time to harvest his crop - and it is the skill and experience of each individual in determining this that, inevitably, affects the quality of the vintage. According to Sandri, 'The trick will be to balance the grapes from the most exposed and the least exposed vines to create the ideal blend'.

Picking
Because Piedmont produces wines from a range of varietals (and because of the varying micro-climates of the region), there is no universal start/finish date for the harvest. The Moscato was harvested during the first fortnight of September, Dolcetto was next - all of these grapes were picked by the end of the month. The Barbera harvest begin late in September, relatively early, while the Nebbiolo won't be picked until mid-October. All picking is done by hand.

Ripeness
'On the whole, the reds are very phenolic, very ripe, with high colour and tannins,' says Negro. 'The Barbera will be high in acidity, while the Nebbiolo looks like it will achieve great ripeness this year.'

Predictions
'It's too early to judge,' says Sandri, though he adds that when it comes to the region's red wines, the quality of the 2001 will rival that of 1999.As noted above, Negro believes that this year's harvest will result in some very good whites. As far as the reds are concerned, he believes 'These will be wines that will mature very well'.

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ITALY - TUSCANY
16 October
Carla Binswanger

'Tuscany's harvest has been characterized by the Easter Sunday frost,' says Piermario Cavallari, owner of Grattamacco, in Bolgheri. 'Yields fell 10 to 50 percent. Sangiovese suffered the most.' Cristina Mariani of Castello Banfi in Montalcino says the frost functioned as a natural pruning device, lowering the yield but contributing to the grape quality. According to Renzo Cotarella, managing director of Antinori, 'the Sangiovese is powerful, with persistent tannins, yet not too overpowering or chunky and the Cabernets are looking excellent, very fruity with great character.'

Picking
Due to the diverse terroir and microclimates picking started end August and finished around 15 October. Most grapes are hand picked. In newer vineyards, especially in Bolgheri and Montepulciano, a hand picked selection is followed by machine picking. 'Harvest workers were up at dawn picking in order to preserve the freshness and fruit character of the grapes,' says Mariani

Weather
Summer was hot and dry , but without the intense heat which can stress the vines and cook the grapes. The harvest met uneven weather; rain, and below average temperatures, interspersed with sunny days. Some producers complained of diluted most and uneven ripening, others profited from cool days and breezy nights.

Ripeness
Many producers have benefited from a slower maturation bringing out well-balanced tannins. Alcohol levels vary between 12°-14°. 'For the first 15 days of the harvest the grapes were excellent with a high concentration of polyphenols,' says Cotarella, 'I've never tasted such extraordinarily good quality grapes in Bolgheri. ' On the whole Tuscan wines show powerful, persistent harsh tannins, a good integrity, allowing for long wines with plenty of good minerals, ' adds Cotarella.

Predictions
'2001 will turn out to be above expectations, comparable to 1998,' says Cotarella. Tuscan-based enologist Giacomo Tachis predicts an 'excellent year for Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.' According to Cavallari, the quality of the Cabernet Sauvignon is similar to 2000. In the whites Chardonnay and Vermentino are promising. Chianti Classico is looking good with a similar structure to 1999 and 1997. Montalcino looks similar to 1999 and Montepulciano's healthy and high quality grapes are reminiscent of 1995.

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ITALY - VENETO
16 October
Carla Binswanger

'It's not been a particularly good year in Valpolicella. This year's harvest has been compromised by harvest rain,' says Marilisa Allegrini, a Valpolicella based vintner. 'Many producers risk botrytis and mould because of the damp and the rain during the harvest.' Allegrini dries the Amarone grapes (Corvina, Rondinella, Croatina and Corvinone) within four days in a specially built cellar, which is set at an ideal temperature to accelerate the initial phase of drying, preventing the risk mould. Amarone needs dry, cold, ventilated weather. The grapes are usually pressed beginning of January. 'One of the problems has been the uneven ripeness of the Garganega,the principle varietal used in Soave,' says Aldo Lorenzoni, director of the Soave grower's association. Giorgio Pasqua of Pasqua complained about the excessive summer heat, stressing the vines and blocking ripening.

Picking
The harvest started around 27 August ending by15 October. It is about five days earlier than last year's harvest with a 20 percent fall in quantity. 'All our grapes are handpicked and put into small plastic trays,' says Allegrini.

Weather
Most vintners agree that the harvest started off well until the rains set in. Areas of Valpolicella as well as the southern parts of Veneto were hit by hail during the harvest, damaging the crop.

Ripeness
'Whites are good, especially early varietals such as Chardonnay and believes that the high acids will yield crisp wines that age well.' Says Roberto Anselmi in Soave. According to Anselmi, good vineyard management, cutting back on yields and careful selection of grapes made a great difference to the quality. According to Lorenzoni acidity levels are low but alcohol levels are high. On the whole an uneven ripeness has characterized this year's harvest.

Predictions
Valpolicella is more or less in line with last year. Quantities and quality is slightly down. Wines are less concentrated, though the sugar levels are good. Vines on sloping hills have probably done better than those in the plains. This year's vintage for Valpolicella and Amarone looks similar to 1998. Chardonnay has done well but Garganega is only average.

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ITALY - LIGURIA
16 October
Carla Binswanger

'It's not going to be an exceptional vintage in Liguria,' says Walter de Batté, producer of Riomaggiore, in the Cinque Terre. 'We had problems with late-ripening. Alcohol levels are on the low side 12° to 12.5° and acidity levels are average, but aromas are good.' In addition Liguria had problems with mould and botrytis, except for the noble rot, which is needed to make Sciacchetrà, one of Italy's rare, but top dessert wines, unique to Liguria.

Picking
The harvest on the western Ponente side of Ligura started on 15 September, ending on 30 September. On the eastern Levante side it started on 18 September with Bosco, a local white vatietal used (up to 90 percent) in Sciacchetrà finishing on 7 October. Quantities are about 10 percent above average.

Weather
The weather has been unsettled throughout the year. 'After the rains in spring we had problems with flowering,' says Tonino Sola, producer from Albenga and owner of Vinoteca Sola in Genova. 'This was followed by torrid heat in July and August which blocked the growth of the vines.' At the end of August the climate changed. Temperatures fell, rains set in alternating with warm sunny days. These fluctuatuons persisted throughout September.

Ripeness
According to de Batté the white varietal Vermentino has done exceptionally well. 'It ripens slightly before other white varietals, and was able to make the most of the summer being harvested before the rains,' says de Batté. Other local varietals such as Albarola and Bosco were slow to reach an even maturation. All three varietals are used in the Cinque Terre white.

Predictions
For the past three years Liguria has had good vintages. The outlook this year is not on a par with that of 1998, 1999 or 2000.

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ITALY - PUGLIA, CAMPANIA, BASILICATA, MOLISE
16 October
Carla Binswanger

'The quality is very good. Our Aglianico is the best we've seen in 12 years,' says Vincenzo Ercolino, vintner of Feudi di San Gregorio in Avellino with wineries in the regions of Basilicata, Puglia and Molise. 'This is a five star vintage. The quality is superb,' says Domenico Colucci, enologist at Pasqua winery in Puglia. 'The acidity, sugar and polyphenolic levels are all well balanced.' Despite the euphoria, Ercolino sees a growing problem with southern Italy's rising temperatures. 'We need to re-evaluate viticultural techniques, especially with regard to white varietals. High temperatures speed up the ripening, jeopardizing a loss in complexity. We need to keep more vegetation on the plant to protect it from the blistering sun.'

Picking
In Puglia the harvest began the first week of August with Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Bianco and some local Garganega. It continued with international red varietals - Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, picked in the last week of August. Local red varietals such as Primitivo di Manduria, Aglianico Negroamaro and Uva di Troia were harvested during the fist two weeks of September. In Campania picking started on 1 October with white varietals such as Falanghina, Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino. On Vesuvio they finished harvesting the Piedirosso (red varietal) around 6 October. Aglianico is usually picked in the second week of October finishing the harvest around the end of October. 'In southern Italy there's a decisive return to agriculture with the younger generations. Our harvest is entirely manual. The grapes are put in trays holding about 20kg each,' says Ercolino.

Weather
Drought and high temperatures brought the harvest forward by about two weeks. 'This is the fourth consecutive year that we have registered early-ripening due to the ozone layer,' says Ercolino. Quantities have fallen by about 30 percent in Puglia, and the south except for near the coast where temperatures are milder.

Ripeness
'The grapes are very healthy, ripening at a steady pace,' says Colucci. However, a ccording to Ercolino, Campania's white varietals have suffered drought resulting in unbalanced alcohol levels. 'An early vintage takes away the complexity of the wine,' says Ercolino.

Predictions
Potentially an excellent harvest. 'I'm very pleased with local varietals such as Negroamaro and Primitivo,' says Ercolino 'Merlot is exceptional this year. In the whites the Chardonnay is very good and the Pinot Bianco has some very delicate aromas.' Vintners say this year's harvest is similar to 1997 but also to 1994. For Colucci Primitivo di Manduria is excellent, as is the Merlot and Chardonnay.

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ITALY - SICILY
16 October
Carla Binswanger

'We've never had such a well balanced harvest,' says Alessio Planeta of Planeta winery in Menfi, Agrigento. Planeta vinified 18 different varietals, some which have never been used in Sicily and the results are interesting. Planeta have adopted the traditional method of crushing the Pinot Nero grapes by foot. 'White wines are showing distinct varietal characteristics, as well as fruity and fresh on the palate,' says Giuseppe Melia, enologist of Ceuso in the province of Trapani. 'The quality is definitely superior to last year's whites.' Flowering in spring was halted by rains and a fall in temperature, lowering yields. 'Production levels are down by about 20 percent, but the quality is naturally higher,' says Melia.

Picking
Sicily's harvest is exceptionally long, due to its diverse terroir, it lasts about 90 days. Chardonnay and Merlot are the first varietals to be picked, around 1st August, ending around the third week of October with the local varietal, Nerello Mascalese grown on the slopes of Etna, at an altitude of 1000 meters. Planeta picked their red varietals 20 days later than average, with perfectly balanced polyphenolic levels.

Weather
The weather this year was less milder than to last year's intense heat. For Sicily it has been a 'fresh' summer with little rain. Temperatures reached a maximum of 30°-32°, falling at night.

Ripeness
The relatively cooler months of August and September allowed the grape to achieve ideal ripening. 'All the levels and aromas are perfectly balanced,' says Planeta The wines are not as alcoholic as last year and certainly more approachable.'

Predictions
'Reds are very good, especially Nero D'Avola,' says Giacomo Tachis, consultant enologist to several wineries in southern Italy. 'Cabernet Sauvignon is rather disappointing this year, but the Merlot is good. It's not an excellent year for whites. Acidity levels are low but with good extractions, aromas and colour. The quality of the local varietal Inzolia is above average. Chardonnay and Cataratto are also satisfactory.' According to Planeta Nero d'Avola, Chardonnay and Shiraz are all above average.

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ITALY - TRENTINO AND FRIULI-VENEZIA-GIULIA
16 October
Carla Binswanger

'This year's harvest is similar to last year,' says Roberto Felluga, vintner of Marco Felluga and Villa Russiz in Friuli's Collio producing area. 'It's been a longer harvest than usual. The spring rains helped considerably and carried us forward into summer avoiding stress and drought in the vineyards,' says Felluga. 'In Trentino the rains at end1 September and early October caused some of the grapes to swell with the danger of botrytis developing in some of the vines. It has also slowed down the ripening,' says Luca D'Attoma, consultant enologist for several Italian wineries.

Picking
The harvest started around 20 August and finished around 6 October. These last couple of harvests have been exceptionally warm, bringing the harvest forward by about three weeks. 'In Collio the harvest is all manual, however, it can be problematic finding agricultural labour. We have an average of about 30 people per day working during the harvest,' says Felluga.

Weather
The harvest started off with very warm weather especially during the harvesting of the white varietals. The temperatures were brought down by a short burst of rain, which didn't compromise the quality of the grapes. Felluga warns of global warming, 'The climate is changing. No damage has been caused yet, but vintners will have to reflect on how they graft vines. Pruning will have to be carried out so that the grapes are protected from the hot sun and drought.'

Ripening
The alcohol level is slightly lower than 2000, but above average. 'White wines, have an even balance between sugar and acidity levels. Late-ripening varietals left on the vines to reach the correct stage of matruration, pushed the alcohol level up by 0.5°,' says D'Attoma.

Predictions
According to Felluga the overall quality will be good. Native varietals, such as Ribolla Gialla, Tocai Friulano and Pinot Grigio and Refosco have all done very well. International varietals such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot are looking exceptional. The red varietals have done better than last year as they have had more time to complete their cycle. With lower temperatures the ripening was more balanced. 'This year's vintage is comparable to 1995 for its intense aromas and elegance.' Says D'Attoma.

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ITALY - UMBRIA AND LAZIO
16 October
Carla Binswanger

'This year's vintage will be nicely concentrated, but at the same time elegant and well structured,' says Riccardo Cotarella, consulting enologist and vintner of Falesco in Montefiascone, Viterbo. 'It's going to be a good vintage,' agrees Francesco Cisani, agronomist for Arnaldo Caprai, in Montefalco, Umbria. 'The grapes are clean and healthy – no mould or botrytis. On the whole the polyphenolyc levels are good and the colour is rich and dark.' At Torgiano in Umbria Chiara Lungarotti of Cantine Giorgio Lungarotti says, 'we've had a very hot and dry summer, so much that we had to irrigate some of the early white varietals. The Easter frost brought yields down, but the quality is excellent.'

Picking
The harvest began around 18 August and ended around 10 October. Rains around mid to end September slowed down the picking. Caprai's 40 harvest workers pick by hand, using 20 kg trays.

Weather
In some areas there has been a significant fall in yields between10 and 30 percent due to the Easter frost. However, a change in viticulture to cut back on production has also affected the fall in yields.

Ripeness
Consistent grape maturity. Compared to last year, the white varietals are far superior. Polyphenolic concentration in the red varietals is also superior. The alcohol level for reds is 14° and for whites levels between 13° and 14°.

Predictions
According to Cotarella this year's harvest is similar to 1997. 'It is definitely a Merlot year, it's absolutely superb,' says Cotarella. White varietals are showing good results. 'Even our common white variety Trebbiano has done well, but I'm especially enthusiastic about international varietals such as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The quality is outstanding; the aromas on the nose are intense, presenting high sugar levels and acidity levels.' According to Cisani this year's harvest looks superior to last year and similar to 1997. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Grechetto have given good results. In the reds, Sagrantino is excellent, but also Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

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ITALY - FRANCIACORTA
13 November
Andrea Zanini

The 2001 harvest in Franciacorta has been a very favourable one. Producers have harvested perfectly ripe and healthy white grapes. However, red grapes, especially those of later ripening, have been affected by an abrupt climate change.

Picking
The southernmost area of Franciacorta, around Mount Orfano, was the first to collect grapes, it was then followed by central Franciacorta and finally by the areas south of Lake Iseo and west of Brescia's hills. Marco Andreoli, says that Majolini started to pick Pinot Noir on 13 August because grapes were perfectly ripe by then, with an 8.5 acidity and 10.9° alcohol, 'perfect parameters for our pure Pinot Noir production' says Simone Maiolini.

Weather
In the last few years, the climate has certainly changed, becoming warmer and giving a further advantage to Franciacorta's vintners. July and August have been two very warm months, with maximum temperature constantly above 30C. July had some rain but August has been very dry, sunny and hot, causing vines in the southern areas of Franciacorta to suffer. However, in the second half of September, there have been prolonged rainfalls and a general cooling of the temperature.

Ripeness
The very warm climate in the first days of August have accelerated grapes' maturity. Sugar accumulation in berries has been occurring at a quick pace; in certain instances increases have been as much as half a degree per day. Pia Berlucchi says that 'vineyards have sustained the heat without suffering, and white berry grapes have reached an optimum ripeness level, with a perfect sugar/acid balance'. Reds can also rely on good ripeness levels.

Predictions
Overall, this year's vintage has offered a relatively medium quantity level of production, but a very high quality level. The Franciacorta Wine Consortium says that the 2001 DOCG will be a “millésime” vintage. A tasting of Terre di Franciacorta Bianco DOC 2001 points to extremely composite and rich aromas, and strong, yet refined structure. Terre di Franciacorta Rosso DOC 2001 will certainly be a good vintage, but a heterogeneous one, in which differences will be well perceptible between different production areas and vintners.

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ITALY - BARDONLINO
16 October
Andrea Zanini

This year is the first harvest of Bardolino Superiore DOCG, following the recent award of Italy's most prestigious quality certification to this wine and area (the first and for Veneto's reds). Giulio Liut, oenologist at Bardolino Wine Consortium, says, 'expectations were very high for this year's harvest, and the results have been very satisfactory – this vintage could have been at least as exceptional as 1997.'

Picking
Bardolino's harvest began on 21 September and the more prestigious Superiore DOCG grapes were picked from 1 October, until last week. Gian Andrea Tinazzi of Tenuta Valleselle says that this year's overall yield has been lower than last year's, but that this vintage's quality is 'one of the best in the last five years.'

Weather
Bardolino is based between Lake Garda's shores and Valpolicella's hills, thus it benefits from the lake's mildness and from constant ventilation. Summer has been dry and hot, producing ideal ripening conditions, and limiting grape quantity. After some rain in September, October has cheered pickers with very sunny and warm conditions and maximum temperatures between 25-27C, about 7C above the seasonal average.

Ripeness
Eugenio Girardelli, co-owner of Fratelli Girardelli, is very pleased with this year's grapes' maturity. He says Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara and Negrara grapes are perfectly ripe. 'Berries are healthy, their colour, aroma and taste are robust and strongly representative of Bardolino's characteristics.' This year's yield should provide 'greater juice concentration, good sugar amount, tannins, acidity and alcohol levels all within parameters of best vintages.'

Predictions
Valentino Lonardi of Costadoro says, 'Now, it is up to us to carry this very promising Bardolino all the way to the final consumer, preserving its exceptional quality.' Lonardi is convinced that the 2001 vintage will generate a wine exalting Bardolino's typical features: intense red ruby colour, a delicate bouquet and a dry, slightly bitter, but harmonic flavour. Bardolino Superiore DOCG will be available from November 1, 2002.

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PORTUGAL (INCLUDING PORT)
28 November 2001
Richard Mayson
Picking
As a consequence of the heat and lack of rain in the final month before the harvest, yields from the A&B grade vineyards at lower altitudes were around average whereas those from the higher altitudes were well above average. The annual Port wine beneficio, set this year at 154,000 pipes, will be substantially exceeded with the remainder of the crop becoming unfortified Douro wine.

Weather
After an abnormally wet winter, bud burst began earlier than usual in mid-March and the flowering took place in mid-May amid settled conditions. From then on, a large crop seemed to be in prospect. In mid-June an excessively hot period reduced the crop size, particularly in the lower lying properties which took the brunt of the heat. July and much of August were unusually variable with the temperature falling from 40oC to 20oC from one day to the next on one occasion. There was also a significant, though useful, amount of rain.

Ripeness
The hot weather returned at the end of August and ripening was rapid, so rapid in fact that it took some of the most experienced growers by surprise. By the time the harvest got underway on 17th there were many cases where grapes were picked over-ripe. Tinta Barroca, the first of the main grapes to ripen, was being picked at 18 degrees baume in some places. Despite this, pH levels remained fairly high, in fact unusually so for the Douro.

Predictions
Charles Symington, joint-winemaker for the Symington family Port shippers, describes the vintage as 'good although clearly not of the quality of 2000'. Others are more bullish. Dirk Niepoort describes 2001 as 'a classical year for classic Port vineyards. 'Overall, we are very, very pleased with the quality of the vintage. There are some very exciting wines'. It seems increasingly likely however that 2000 has the edge and there will be the subject of a widespread Vintage Port declaration in the spring of 2002.

Elsewhere in Portugal
2001 has proved to be the largest vintage since 1996. There will be plenty of high quality wine from the Douro, Dao, Ribatejo and Alentejo, regions which have seen significant improvements in quality over recent years. Picking began in the Alentejo as early as 15th August and continued well into October, such was the size of the crop. Despite the fact that unusually heavy rain fell at the end of September in southern Portugal, baumes remained high until the end of the harvest which, for some was as late as the end of October. Naturally, the best wines will come from those growers who controlled their yields but with grape prices and domestic consumption falling there is plenty of value-for-money wine available for export. The fact that the Port beneficio was 10,000 pipes lower than requested by the Port shippers will translate into good quantities of increasingly fashionable Douro wine (unfortified wine made from the same grapes as Port).

14 September 2001
Richard Mayson

After three years of uncertain weather and/or a serious shortfall, this year's harvest in Portugal combines both quality and quantity. Peter Symington, wine maker for Port shippers Dow, Graham and Warre is optimistic. 'There are plenty of grapes and this is what we need,' he said.

But the beneficio or annual authorisation of how much grape must can be fortified to make Port has been capped at 154,000 pipes (1 pipe = 550 litres).

'This is less than we requested from the authorities,' Symington said. 'It will inevitably put pressure on shippers.'

As a result there will be plenty of grapes to produce Douro wine this year, and prices which have risen steeply in recent years due to lack of grapes should fall. Elsewhere in Portugal a plentiful harvest is well underway, particularly in the Alentejo and Ribatejo where quantity seems to be matched by quality. This is exactly what Portugal needs after difficult vintages in 1998 and 1999 which led to supply problems in external markets.

Picking
Some picking began in the Douro on 15 September. The majority will start on 17 September. The harvest – all hand-picked – will take between three and four weeks. The best grapes from the A/B rated vineyards at lower altitudes are harvested first with those from the so called altos (the high land) picked in early October.

Weather
The winter of 2000/2001 was the wettest on record. There were landslides in the vineyards and the tragic collapse of the bridge over the River Douro at Entre-os-Rios.

The good news is that ground water supplies have returned to normal levels after the severe drought of the late 1990s. It is partly due to this that the 2001 harvest is expected to be above average throughout Portugal. The weather during the crucial flowering period was fine and dry, and although summer weather has been variable and cooler than normal in places, the grapes are ripe and in perfect health. A fine September has ensured even ripening.

Ripeness
Peter Symington describes the ripeness levels as 'advanced'. The first lagar from Quinta do Bom Retiro measured 14.2 baume which is perfect for high-quality Port. Elsewhere in Portugal some grapes are over-ripe, particularly in the Alentejo where the summer has been hot, and the timing of the harvest is crucial to maintain balance in the wines.

Predictions
It is still too early to make comparisons with previous harvests but if the fine weather holds through the equinox (when it often breaks) then 2001 will be a fine and plentiful harvest.

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CALIFORNIA - NAPA
23 September
Paul Franson

After late frosts and an unseasonably hot spring, Napa Valley vintners worried about the 2001 vintage. But their fears were unfounded. The weather then moderated, leading to an early harvest for many grapes and long hang times for others. Yields and production are down 5 to 15 percent but it's been a relaxed early harvest with perfect grapes promising superb wines. Vintners are exuberant.

Picking
Growers started picking for still wines in late August, two to three weeks earlier than usual. For the first time many red wines were ready for harvest before whites. Hillside red vineyards ripened before those on the Valley floor, which stalled letting flavors develop while sugar levels stayed static or even dropped.

Weather
Bud break was a week to 10 days early in March, making growers nervous about late frosts. Their concerns were justified. One of the most severe frosts in 25 years hit in April, decimating even hillside and Carneros vines usually impervious to frost. Then the hottest May in history caused grapes that didn't develop. Perfect weather followed, with cool nights and warm, not excessively hot, days.

Ripeness
The conditions allowed long hang time for grapes, letting flavors develop while maintaining relatively low sugars. The wines are ripe but lower in alcohol than years like 1997, when they were luscious but alcoholic unless vintners intervened. The grapes were good across the board, and the Cabernets should be superb.

Predictions
'2001 looks like a fantastic year in Napa Valley,' says Greg Fowler, senior vice president for winemaking at Seagram Estates (Sterling Vineyards and Mumm Napa Cuvee). 'It's better than any recent year, perhaps comparable to 1978 or 1980 in flavors and texture.'
Winemaker Brad Warner at Sawyer Cellars in Rutherford says the vintage will produce big, full wines of concentrated color and flavor that should last well. 'We're seeing smaller berries and thicker skins, a skin-to-pulp ratio that results in wines that have deep, beautiful, intense color.'
Doug Fletcher, winemaker at Chimney Rock Winery in Stags Leap district: 'The cool weather late in the season allowed Merlot fruit to develop slowly, resulting in darkly pigmented fruit with intense stone-fruit character.' Mitch Cosentino, founder and winemaker at Cosentino Winery in Oakville says, 'Due to smaller yields, flavor is very good on most varietals.' Winemaker Dirk Hampson of Far Niente in Oakville: 'Twenty years ago, we were growing grapes. Now we're growing wine.'
'Every year we vintners say it's a great year, but this time we may be right,' says Agustin Huneeus, owner, Quintessa Vineyards and former president of Franciscan Vineyards.

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CALIFORNIA - SONOMA
1 November 2001
Gerald D Boyd

Except for some late-harvest whites such as Riesling, waiting for botrytis to re-develop, the 2001 wine grape harvest in Sonoma County is in the winery and looking good. 'I think it's going to be a pretty smart year,' says Mick Schroeter, winemaker for Geyser Peak Winery in the Alexander Valley. Like most of his colleagues, Schroeter is high on red, and especially white varieties. 'I'm especially stunned by the Chardonnay we have fermenting in barrels, the fruit is jumping out of the glass.' Schroeter also likes Sauvignon Blanc this year. 'We just began bottling the 2001 Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc, which is a record for us.'

Picking
Harvest in Sonoma County began in mid to late August and was mostly wrapped up by 15 October. Geyser Peak started earlier than most, on 10 August and Schroeter says that the last trucks with red grapes were in the winery by 16 October. Steve Reeder, winemaker for Chateau St. Jean, in Sonoma Valley, says the hot spell in early October slowed the spread of botrytis on his Riesling in Alexander Valley. He is now looking at picking those grapes in early November.

Weather
After early rains, a frost in April and heat spells through much of the summer, 2001 finally settled down to cool and even temperatures, allowing for additional grape hang time. Then, an unexpected storm hit in late September, dumping as much as an inch of rain in some places, followed by another hot spike in October. Still, Nick Frey, executive director, Sonoma County Grape Growers, reports the late rain didn't create much bunch rot or affect the harvest.

Ripeness
Growers that were hit hardest by the spring frost are reporting yields down as much as 50 percent. Merlot seems to be taking the biggest hit. Schroeter reports that Chardonnay yields are also down, although quality is excellent and Reeder says that this year's crop is of 10-15 percent off estimates. 'We didn't get the cluster weights we were expecting.'

Predictions
As the harvest winds down, winemakers and growers are happy that the grapes are in the winery and quality is very good to excellent. Most agree that 2001 is a similar year to 1999 - not as good as 1997 - but better than 2000. Most winemakers agree that Zinfandel is the premier variety this year. Jeff McBride, winemaker for Dry Creek Vineyard, works with some of the best Zin grapes in the state. 'For some reason, Zinfandel threw a big second crop this year; small berries, with good intense flavors and great balance. I see the Zins this year as more claret-like without the heavy raisin flavors. McBride describes the 2001 Dry Creek Zins as juicy and bright; 'This is the year when you wanted to just sit at the hopper munching on Zin berries.'

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1 October 2001
Gerald D Boyd

Many observers of the 2001 harvest in Sonoma County are calling this a 'roller coaster vintage,' prompted by an early frost, a hot summer turning cool, and red varieties that refuse to ripen.
'There's some weird things going on this year, especially with clusters that are showing more variability in ripening then normal,' says Bob Iantosca, winemaker for Gloria Ferrer, producer of Carneros sparkling and still wines.
As of late September, with early-ripening varieties like Chardonnay in the winery, most winemakers are watching Cabernet Sauvignon benefit from more hang time. Hank Wetzel, winemaker for Alexander Valley Vineyards, believes that Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel are the varieties to watch this year but predicts that Merlot will be average to above average in quality, with low yields.

Picking
Sonoma County harvest began in late August and may continue through mid to late October. Picking methods vary, with many of the smaller vineyards staying with hand picking, while larger vineyards in areas like Carneros use both machines and hand. Iantosca says that many grapes are coming into the winery with lower ripeness levels than sampled.

Weather
The season started with rain in late February, followed by a frost in April, then a very hot May and June, with another heat spike in July. Temperatures then cooled in August and evened out as harvest got underway, although rain in late September slowed things a little for some growers. Wetzel reckons that, even with the unevenness, 2001 will be better than 2000. 'Last year we had problems with early rains.'

Ripeness
Eric Stern, winemaker for Landmark Vineyard, reports varying yields for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in Sonoma Valley. 'Our yields are all over the board, from two to four tons per acre for Pinot Noir.' Wetzel estimates his total yield to be about 18 percent below prediction for the year. Iantosca expects yields for 2001, in general, to be lower than in 2000. Although most Sonoma County winemakers expect yields to be lower than in 2000, some late-ripening varieties, like Cabernet Sauvignon, may meet or slightly exceed expectations.

Predictions
Hank Wetzel believes that 2001 will be above average to excellent for both white and red wines, but he gives the edge to red. Iantosca, however, is more sceptical. 'Compared with the 2000 harvest, this vintage is more of a challenge. You need to be more patient this year,' he says.Stern is a bit more philosophical. 'We always have high expectations to make superior wine and, although it's still early in the harvest, I think that we'll have exceptional wines this year.' Few winemakers would go on record yet predicting if 2001 will be a red or white vintage, but Wetzel says, 'Maybe red, but I'm cheating a little since we produce 80% red wine.'

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WASHINGTON STATE
24 October
Stacie Jacob, Washington Wine Commission

Picking
Harvest began about 10 days earlier than average (first grapes were picked on Red Mountain), but the early start didn't necessarily mean an early finish as vineyards throughout the Columbia Valley completed harvest this past week (November 7, 2001). This later than expected finish provided a longer hang time, resulting in riper, more flavourful fruit. Washington State again netted a record harvest with final numbers totaling 97,600 tons. One particular grape that stood out was Syrah. Reports on Syrah say this grape is showing dominant, distinct flavours.

Weather
Warmer than average weather boosted harvest, which began on September 1, about a week earlier than average. Temperatures generally reached much warmer highs, which resulted in riper fruit.

Ripeness
Well formed clusters, moderate crop levels, and even ripening indicate another high quality vintage for the fourth consecutive year.

Predictions
Washington winemakers and growers alike are touting 2001 to be another quality vintage. The reds are more approachable than in years past – coming in with softer tannins, and bigger, more dominant flavours. Furthermore, the whites were quoted as outstanding with lots of floral and fruit characteristics.

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NEW YORK STATE
22 November

Dave McIntyre
Picking
Drought delayed ripeness, especially in the Finger Lakes. Harvest stretched into the first days of November, which aided late-ripening varieties and allowed winemakers to wait for maximum ripeness.

Weather
Low rainfall caused lower-than-average yields, down about 18% from average statewide. In the Finger Lakes, some rain showers in late September – followed by dry, sunny weather to avoid rot – gave the clusters an extra burst toward maturity. Long Island vintners reported a near-perfect growing season with early veraison, an ideal balance of rainfall and sunshine, plus an extended harvest with prolonged hang time.

Ripeness
Thanks to the long, mild harvest season, ripeness reached optimal levels in the major regions of Finger Lakes and Long Island, even for Pinot Noir. Whites are displaying strong aromatics, while reds promise deep colours and intensity of flavours with softer-than-usual tannins.

Predictions
Vintners across the state are hailing 2001 as a potentially strong vintage. Look for Merlots from Long Island with soft tannins and concentrated flavours. The Finger Lakes should produce crisp, vibrant Riesling and Chardonnay and juicy, mouthfilling Cabernet Franc.

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VIRGINIA
24 November
Dave McIntyre

Picking
Harvest began in mid-September and stretched into the first week of November, blessed by an unusually long indian summer that combined cold nights and cool days.

Weather
Vintners began trembling with anticipation early in the growing season, as the region enjoyed beautiful weather without the grape-rotting humidity that can be typical of the Piedmont. Rainfall was plentiful, but always followed by several days of ideal sunshine that allowed grape clusters to dry out. An unusual, frost during the first week of October caused significant leaf damage throughout the state, but left grapes unharmed as they were nearing optimal ripeness anyway. Harvest season was marked by ideal weather that had forecasters bemoaning a drought but left vintners smiling.

Ripeness
Ideal ripeness was reported for all varieties that do well in Virginia: Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Viognier and Norton.

Predictions
Vintners are still relishing the exceptional 1998 vintage, for many their current-release reds, but across the state expectations are high that 2001 could be even better.

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GERMANY
24 October
Stuart Pigott

2001 looks to be a good vintage for Germany's leading winegrowers, though the emerging picture is rather heterogenous. In some places the grapes are still in fine condition, elswhere rot is spreading fast. Ripeness levels are generally high, but so is acidity. 'The acidity of the Riesling grapes is certainly high,' said Ernst Loosen of Dr Loosen in Bernkastel/Mosel and JL Wolf of Wachenheim/Pfalz, 'but it is ripe, rather than green. It looks promising, but we won't be hurrying to pick.' Everywhere yields look small to very small.

Picking
The rapid spread of rot through the vineyards in the Rhine Valley during the last weeks made mechanical picking this year a poor option. Whilst the harvest for the Burgunder/Pinot family of grapes and early-ripening varieties like Müller-Thurgau is well advanced, the Riesling harvest looks set to extend well into November.

Weather
'The last two weeks of good weather really saved us,' Ernst Loosen said, 'they came at the last moment. If the rains of September had continued any longer then even in the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer rot could have been very destructive.' The fine weather has just become more unstable (normal for the time of year) again though.

Ripeness
Acidity levels, not ripeness, is the big issue this year. Acidity is often too high, and the cleanliness of the grapes is also an important factor. 'We are now picking beautifuly ripe Riesling grapes,' said Bernard Breuer of Georg Breuer in Rüdesheim/Rheingau, 'and the rot we have is noble, but in vineyards with heavy soils things look less good.'

Predictions
There will certainly be a lot of good 2001 German wines with the Rieslings from the northerly Mosel-Saar-Ruwer and Nahe regions generally superior to those from the Rhine regions. However, since so little has been picked in the Rhine, nobody is risking comparisons with earlier vintages. 'The Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) reds look very good,' said Patrick Johner of Karl H Johner in Bischoffingen/Baden, 'with good ripeness and lovely acidity'. The whites from Weissbugunder (Pinot Blanc) and Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris) look to be less special.

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2 October
Stuart Pigott

The German wine harvest has been under way for several weeks but almost no Riesling grapes have been harvested yet. The fact that it is slightly later this year than previous years and the recent cool damp weather has made growers cautious about making early predictions for the 2001 vintage.

Picking
Paul Fürst of the Rudolf Fürst estate in Bürgstadt/Franken will start pick the grapes of the Pinot family of vines which make up 60% of his crop tomorrow. The Dönnhoff estate in Oberhausen/Nahe that he will not begin picking for another two weeks.

Weather
The Pfalz and Baden regions in the southwest have had the best summer with many days in which temperatures topped 30° C. This was followed by a generally damp September with some rain.

Ripeness
Slightly delayed flowering but now the grapes are in good condition. Some rot but nothing to worry about.

'This year the growing season was a real rollercoaster ride,' said Fürst, referring to the delayed flowering, followed by hot weather, then a cool sunny August, then a grey damp September, 'the grapes are in good condition and the ripeness is good if not exceptional.'

'It really looks very good. Many varieties have reached high levels of ripeness,' said Hans-Günther Schwarz of the Müller-Catoir estate in Neustadt-Haardt/Pfalz. 'We just have to hope there is not too much more rain so that the grapes stay clean.' The September rains have led to some rot, particularly in the Deidesheim area where the ripeness was most advanced by the time the weather turned wet.

'There is a little rot here too,' said Helmut Dönnhoff of the Dönnhoff estate, 'but it is good botrytis. Some growers are panicking about this without good reason. After the extremely wet harvest of 2000 when serious rot problems were widespread many growers have become a bit paranoid about this danger. The fact is that at the moment the Riesling looks and tastes better than it did at the same in any recent year. I therefore feel very optimistic about 2001. He stressed that as he is not picking for another two weeks, judgement must be deferred.

In spite of cool damp weather in September the ripening process proceeded rapidly. This was confirmed by growers in the Mosel-Saar-Ruwer. This is reminiscent of the 1990 vintage, when September also saw mediocre weather, but a big leap in ripeness. Within the sprawling Mosel-Saar-Ruwer the ripeness levels vary considerably. The tributary valleys of the Saar and the Ruwer are behind the Middle Mosel, and the Riesling in the Terrace Mosel at Koblenz shows the highest level of ripeness.

In no region do the leading producers expect a big crop - although in regions where the flowering went through very smoothly, like Rheinhessen, Pfalz and Württemberg, it was necessary to do bunch thinning.

Predictions
2001 will certainly be a year for the top sites: across the country growers note big differences between the ripeness of the grapes in the top sites and those in less favoured locations. The next weeks will be a nail-biting time for the Germany's winegrowers, but then it is rare that they can enjoy the benefits of a homogenously dry and sunny harvest.

Dönnhoff said, 'At the moment the Riesling looks and tastes better than it did at the same in any recent year. I therefore feel very optimistic about 2001.'

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AUSTRIA
22 November
Stuart Pigott

2001 looks to be a very good vintage for Austria's dry white wine producers. 'The quality looks to be close to 1999 [the best vintage for dry whites since 1990],' said Berthold Salomon, director of Austria's Wine Marketing Association. Quantities for some regular quality bottlings will be down, but the top wines should not be in short supply. 'It should be an exciting vintage. When the Riesling juice flows from the press it smells like a huge bunch of flowers,' said Franz Hirtzberger of Spitz/Wachau and president of the regional winegrowers association, the Vinea Wacha.

Picking
The begining of picking was delayed by the September rains. Most of the Grüner Veltliner, Austria's most important indigenous variety for dry white wine, was picked during October, but Riesling harvest only got underway in early November, and was not completed in the third week of the month. In contrast, the red wine harvest was rushed in during early October in order to minimise rot resulting from the September rains.

Weather
As in Germany, everything looked set for a top vintage before the heavy rains of September slowed down ripening and significantly diluted the grapes. The indian summer of october and early November reversed this process, concentrating the grapes rapidly as they finished ripening. The weather remained fine for the last days of picking.

Ripeness
As in Germany high acidity levels were a problem during the first days of picking, causing top producers to wait even longer. 'The acidities of the later-picked Riesling and Grüner Veltliner grapes were good,' said Franz Hirtzberger, 'the waitting definitely paid off.' In Brugenland the nation's leading Chardonnay producers, the Velich family were also delighted. 'For the dry whites it will be remembered as a very good vintage, they have a marvellous balance and more than enough richness,' said Helmut Velich.

Predictions
2001 will probably turn out to be an excellent vintage for Austrian dry whites, reports suggesting that the wines will be concentrated, with a similar kind of elegance to the 1999s. 'It's too early to be sure about the dessert wines,' Helmut Velich reported, 'there ought to be some fine wines, but our favourite grape for these, Welschriesling, let us down.' Only for red wines tdo the results seem to be well behind those from 1999 and 2000.

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SPAIN - RIOJA
2 November
John Radford (with acknowledgements to Jeremy Watson)

The total 2001 harvest in Spain is expected to be down 20% on 2001 at around 35 million hectolitres, although this is still about 10% higher than recent average vintages. The reason for this is a long, hot and dry summer after prolonged winter rains, which has also meant that picking started early in many places - in some cases up to fifteen days before the usual date.

Rioja is still recovering from the roller-coaster ride which started with the ridiculous grape-price increases in 1999 (up to 450 Pts/kg) and the subsequent collapse of 2000, as well as the massive quantity (with subsequent surplus of low-standard wine) of the biggest-ever 2000 harvest (3.1 million hl). The Consejo Regulador has been trying to restrict the 2001 harvest to 2.8 million hl but most pundits believe it will be bigger. The emergence of an expanding class of 'super-wines' from the region is starting to polarise opinion between the large companies which make the up-to-£3.99 price-point wines and those who want to exclude under-£4 wines altogether to maintain the reputation of the region.

Picking
Picking started sporadically on the 18/19 September in excellent weather, although Jesús Madrazo at Contino (Rioja Alavesa) was only picking from his oldest vines (70-year-old Graciano already showing potential alcohol of 13.5% abv) and was negotiating with the vineyard workers to stop picking after Thursday 20 and restart in the week beginning 24 September. Barón de Ley (Rioja Baja) also started picking on the 18 and reported excellent quality with very healthy, ripe grapes, bit Marqués de Riscal (Rioja Alavesa) and Marqués de Cáceres (Rioja Alta) were both holding off until end of the month.

Weather
The rains came with a vengeance on Saturday and Sunday 22/23 September.

Ripeness
Throughout the region the grapes appeared to be in good health, fully ripe and very sweet.

Predictions
This will unquestionably be the second-biggest harvest in Rioja's history. It is likely that that some great wines will be made – quality is predicted to be MB - Muy Buena (very good) or perhaps even E - Excelente.

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SPAIN - RIBERA DEL DUERO
2 November
John Radford (with acknowledgements to Jeremy Watson)

The unstoppable rise and rise of Ribera del Duero is still being hampered by the fact that many of the vineyards are still too young to be producing their greatest grapes. On the other hand, you might say that if such as Hacienda Monasterio can turn out wines of exemplary quality with a vineyard barely a dozen years old, then how much better will it become in another couple of decades?

Picking
Most growers were predicting a quality harvest, with picking beginning on or about the 24 September. However, much of the week previous to that was cool, cloudy and dull, and there were fairly heavy rains over the weekend, so many growers will be starting to pick a week later - nearer to the end of the month.

Weather
There was some mildew in parts of the region this year but the main problem was spring frosts which have reduced the crop to perhaps two-thirds of what they might have expected (remember that in the highest vineyards of Ribera del Duero frost can strike as late as the first week of June and as early as the last week in September). Since then the weather has been particularly good throughout the ripening season and in mid-September.

Ripeness
In spite of the problems early in the year the crop looks to be in good condition.

Predictions
Predictions are that the quality of the 2001 wines will be at least B - Buena(good) and probably MB - Muy Buena (very good).

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SPAIN - NAVARRA
2 November
John Radford (with acknowledgements to Jeremy Watson)

The unstoppable rise and rise of Ribera del Duero is still being hampered by the fact that many of the vineyards are still too young to be producing their greatest grapes. On the other hand, you might say that if such as Hacienda Monasterio can turn out wines of exemplary quality with a vineyard barely a dozen years old, then how much better will it become in another couple of decades?

Picking
The vintage started with white varieties during the first week in September and is expected to continue through to gathering of the latest black varieties at the end of October, although obviously the precise timings differ between the five subzones of Navarra.

Ripeness
Good weather throughout the ripening season has brought the grapes to ripeness some fifteen days ahead of what is considered normal in Navarra, with a lot of rain last winter followed by a very hot, dry summer. As a result the vineyards are exceptionally healthy but the lack of rain means that the individual grapes are smaller than they might have been. Plus, vintage forecasts have been revised from an original estimate of 108 million kg to 100 million kg (representing approximately 70,000 hl of wine). The implications for quality are very good, however, with the grapes showing good levels of sugar and acidity.

Predictions
However, the Consejo Regulador is confidently predicting that the 2001 vintage will achieve a rating of E Excelente.

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SPAIN - OTHERS
2 November
John Radford (with acknowledgements to Jeremy Watson)

RUEDA started picking its almost-entirely white varieties in the second week of September and, in common with most of the rest of northern Spain is gathering ripe, healthy grapes and predicting a good quality harvest.JEREZ picks earlier than most regions, starting at the beginning of September. Quantity is predicted to be much the same as last year at 101 million hl. Quality is good but this, of course, less of a factor in Jerez than elsewhere because of the solera system.

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UNITED KINGDOM
7 November

With harvesting finished in most vineyards by the end of October, the first reports are coming through about the prospects of the 2001 vintage. This report is from Stephen Skelton, Chairman of The United Kingdom Vineyards Association

Picking
Early varieties such as Siegerrebe and Ortega started to be harvested towards the end of September. The majority of growers picked between 7 and 30 October with a few picking later varieties such as Seyval Blanc in early November. The colour in red varieties such as Dornfelder and Rondo was unusually deep and the warmer than average temperatures in October appear to have helped. Growers who managed to keep disease at bay managed to pick higher-than-average crops with several reporting record yields.

Weather
After very little in the way of frost most vines got off to a good start. Although some growers were hampered by wet weather at flowering, by mid-summer most were able to report the potential for good crops which appeared to be on track for an earlier than average harvest. The relatively warm weather and high moisture levels meant that disease, especially botrytis, was quite bad in some varieties.

Ripeness
Although sugar levels in the early varieties were quite high, mainstream and later varieties appear to have had average to lower-than-average sugar levels, mainly due to the uptake of water. However, acid levels were also lower-than-average and winemakers who took in clean fruit report that the wines so far produced are very approachable with good varietal characters.

Predictions
As ever, yields varied in different parts of the country, but on the whole it is a satisfactory year for both quality and production. Indeed, some of the red wine producers are predicting an excellent quality for 2001.

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HUNGARY – TOKAJi
13 November
Wojciech Bonkowski

Tokaji winemakers are talking about another fine vintage after the outstanding 1999 and 2000. The vintage seems also less patchy than last year, especially for notoriously late-ripening Furmint and Hárslevelű varieties, so winemakers will not need to use as much Zéta and Muscat, varieties which botrytize reliably but are deemed less noble for their flavours. Altogether those botrytized grapes that could already be harvested show high, consistent quality. Good weather continues so the best grapes are still on the vine.

Picking
Picking is underway at most estates. The picking of botrytized Aszú grapes started around 10 October and is still proceeding. The extended autumn has seen prolonged maturation and botrytization, meaning that the grapes are still less shrivelled and concentrated than at the same time last year. Harvest is expected to continue throughout November. Overripe, non-botrytized grapes for base wines are being picked now.

Weather
2001 in Tokaji started with a mild winter and fear of diseases. The flowering and budding of the vines occurred at the usual period. The summer was quite rainy and cooler than average, meaning a slower maturation. Rain in September caused green rot and a part of the harvest has been lost. But the weather in October improved substantially, allowing the grapes to mature well and preparing them for a second onset of botrytis.

Ripeness
Sugar and acid contents are high and in good balance. At Disznók ő, there is less concentration of sugars than last year. István Turóczi of Royal Tokaji Wine Company praises the Muscat musts for their 'lovely flavour and balance'.

Predictions
A very good to excellent vintage can be expected for those estates that were discriminative enough during picking time. László Mészáros of Disznókő likens 2000 to 1998, a very good vintage overshadowed by 1997 and especially 1999. István Szepsy, one of the region's best winemakers, who also runs the Királyudvar joint-venture, says 2001 could turn out to be 'an interesting harvest of excellent quality'. If picking can continue in good weather conditions, this could the third consecutive outstanding vintage for the region.

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