2012 Sauternes Harvest Update

The tension is mounting in Sauternes for the 2012 harvest.

At the end of last week there was a bit more botrytis since my last clip but it all had to dry out and concentrate up so not much picking was going on.  It looked like we still could have a winner if the weather went round to the East and got drier and/or colder.   It was a big risk not picking, and good on the Sauternais for generally sticking out while the reds finished, but meantime quite a lot of estates had harvested generic Sauternes or second wine at 15-16° potential, with a few Grand Vin pickings here and there going up to 19° especially in Barsac.  Many estates had hedged by harvesting for dry white.  There was a meeting on Thursday where yields were the main subject with most growers reporting record small yields even less than the frosted 91 and 08.

Fast forward to today and it has been raining depressingly hard in Sauternes this weekend, especially Friday evening, and, with only very small amounts so far picked, there are a lot of well-botrytised bunches still out there.  Any unpicked grapes that were at “rôti” stage last Thursday will certainly not have survived the weekend, but the majority at “pourri plein” stage have resisted the water better and just need to dry out.  Everything is rather damp today and morale is pretty low, but there are now two small windows of opportunity left to make some very good Sauternes: 1) from tomorrow Tuesday through Thursday when the forecast is for sunshine and drying southeasterly winds, then 2) from next Sunday 28th when the forecast is for brisk northerlies – too cold to allow any new botrytis from forming but perfect for faster concentration of the existing botrytis + the added advantage of keeping bad rot and wine-flies out of the vineyard.

Fingers crossed!  I will try and film on Thursday and report on how things have gone during the first window.  Bill Blatch

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