2013, bad pupil – brilliant personality !
2013 was not a particularly fluid vintage out in the vineyard, and it raises an interesting question : what if yesterday’s bad pupils had become today’s greatest vintages ?
Indeed the sky in 2013 was rather antipodal to the calm serenity of the perfect years, with a complicated weather which compromised the flowering and turned 2013 into the smallest crop of my whole career.
Moreover 2013 didn’t have a glorious autumn which was until now a constant in the great years. On the opposite, the end of the vine’s cycle was marked by a totally unusual amount of rain for our region.
The climatic chaos has become an undeniable reality, and after 2010 then 2012 and before 2014, 2013 is one more confirmation.
But the moment of truth for a vintage is the bottling, since it is only then that the quality of a wine can finally and irreversibly be assessed.
And very obviously, in spite of all the difficulties and the stress generated by 2013, the wines impress me today by their qualities.
First, the aromatic profile is exquisitely refined and pure ; of course it is a usual hallmark of cool vintages.
Provided that one got round the main obstacle of 2013 though, namely the quick degradation of the skins as a consequence of the late rainfalls ; but none of this to report in the wines, the noses have a great definition and are full of nuances and rich in details.
But most importantly the mouths – where the wines truly reveal themselves – are tonic and their acidity is fresh, smooth, salivating… everything but gnashing, which as a consequence of a potentially unachieved ripeness, was the other pitfall of the vintage.
Although they are slightly less fleshy than 2012, the 2013s are juicy and unctuous, and are indisputably in line with the 2010s and 2012s which have both been remarkable vintages at the Domaine.
By the way it is very unsettling to observe that the great vintages of the beginning of the 21st century have all been complicated years, climatically speaking. On the contrary, in the end of the 20th century the remarkable 1983, 1989 or 1990 to name but a few, were all easy vintages without any specific climatic difficulty.
However the so-called easy vintages of the beginning of our century, warmer years like 2011, 2009 or 2003 have definitely not produced the best wines, while their counterparts of the end of last century are opposite : complicated and cold years where the ripeness was hard to achieve, such as 1991, 1984 or 1980 !
So, what if yesterday’s climatically complicated years had become today’s greatest vintages ?
Does ease inhibit the making of great wines ?
Does Great Wine need to endure the worst in order to transcend ?
Or is all this just a vigneron’s digression, a mere consequence of his inner sky’s mood ?
To tell the truth I’m not sure at all what the answers to all these questions are, but what I’m certain of is that 2013, just like 2012, engendered wines as great as the difficulties it went through – and considering that, 2014 is already looking very promising !
But wait and see, we will have more answers in the next issue which is currently being written and will be printed, or rather bottled, in about a year… the show must go on !!
André Ostertag, Vigneron
Epfig, le 10 septembre 2014