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Burgundy 2011: ‘Good but not great’, say vignerons as harvest begins

A few properties in Burgundy began harvesting on Monday, but most will begin tomorrow, as vignerons predict a 'good but not great' year.

Burgundy: ‘20% less’

With three times as much rain as normal – 130mm – falling in July and August, there have been problems with rot and some vignerons are predicting a 20% drop in yield.

There may also be a need to chaptalize – add sugar – to raise alcohol levels.

‘It is time to harvest,’ said Thierry Brouhin, director of Clos des Lambrays in Morey St Denis.

‘What could have been a great year will probably be a good year,’ he said, adding that because of rot they would have ‘about 20% less grapes’ and rigorous selection would be very important.

At Domaine Mugneret-Gibourg in Vosne Romanee, Marie-Andrée Mugneret described the summer as ‘capricious’ following a dry spring and very early flowering.

Green harvesting and leaf clearing – something that not all vintners did – helped counter the effects of the rain, she said.

Tasting grapes in her vineyard, she noted that most were ‘healthy and with fine ripeness’.

Both Mugneret and Jacques Lardiere, winemaking director at Louis Jadot in Beaune, compare 2011 to 2007, but reckon it will be a better vintage.

As in 2007, a dry spring promised an early vintage, but then the rains fell, although not as much or as intensely as in 2007, Lardiere said.

The rot has not affected white grapes, Jean-Charles Le Bault de la Moriniere of Domaine Bonneau du Martray – one of the top producers of Corton Charlemagne – said. He is confident that 2011 will be a fine vintage for whites.

Another vigneron, Aubert Lefas at Domaine Lejeune in Pommard, said that some chaptalization may be necessary this year, to raise potential alcohol levels.

Written by Panos Kakaviatos

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