Warm climatic conditions, at the beginning fo the year, and beneficial weather throughout Spring, gave us a 15-day head start compared to the average of the past 20 years. The vines flowered quickly, too quickly, during the Pentecost weekend with intense, blistering even, heat. For this reason a lot of vines showed symptoms of severe coulure, begin one of the reasons among others, why there was a low-yield harvest this year.
The summer season was atypical. Some days in July were blazing hot, like the 18th with highs of 36.2°C. A dozen hectares oriented South-West suffered a 30% loss (burnt leaves) during this heat wave. Paradoxically, the total precipitation for the month of July and August combined, was twice as much as the norm! To say the least, we impatiently awaited the arrival of September. Saint Vincent the patron saint of wine makers heard our wishes and we began manually harvesting, in ideal conditions, on Wednesday September 17. Our harvesting machine took over from our secateurs on Monday September 22 bringing us to the end of our 2014 harvest on September 30.
The harvest was good, excellent even, but for the third year in a row yields are still low. We’ll have to get used to this decrease in production: climatic conditions are changing (poor weather, hail, dry spells) and the esca fungal epidemic is killing off our vines slowly but surely. Each year, we have to replant an average of 3.5% of the totality of our plots. These vines will take 5 to 6 years before beginning to produce grapes again.
In the end, we began vinifying with the Chardonnay grapes in excellent health: they had both good levels of sugar and a perfect acidity providing us with all the elements needed to make a high-quality vintage. An exceptionally rare phenomenon in 2014 took place: alcoholic and malolactic fermentation carried along at a speedy pace. Everything was over and done by the end of November (normally sugars finish the end of March).
The wines will at last have the time “to rest”. This waiting period will allow the wines to stabilise before being bottled. Bottling for the 2014 vintage is expected to begin at the end of March beginning with our Petit Chablis, then mid-June with the Chablis wines and in mid-July we will bottle the 2013 Grands Crus. Lastly, in September we’ll put the 2014 Premiers Crus, our 2013 “Grains Dorés” and our one and only red wine - the 2014 Epineuil- in bottles.
We have for the first time this year, invested in a sorting table which served us both for the manual and machine harvest. This beneficial addition helped us put only the cream of the crop into our vats, even if this incurred extra costs in labour.
Our family of wines has a new member: we harvested a parcel in the Chablis Premier Cru “Côte de Jouan”. Located in the commune of Courgis, this terroir known by a select few is very promising. It produced a lovely, ripe fruit. A wine to follow and discover at the end of 2015!
The GARNIER family