How would you describe the 2020 harvests?
Véronique Torcolacci: Action-packed!
« We broke records in all areas.»
The harvests began earlier than ever before. At our partners, they were a week early, starting on the 13th of August, with the Sauvignons in Pézénas (Hérault), Languedoc. They also lasted longer than ever, with the last grapes picked on the 3rd of October in Châteauneuf-du-Pape (Vaucluse). The harvest lasted ten days longer than in a normal year. Even in 2003 and 2017, two very early years, we did not finish that late.
Why did these harvests last so long?
V. T.: There were significant differences in maturity between the various grape varieties. We also had to take breaks between the harvests of the whites and reds. The mid-September rains allowed us to begin a new maturity cycle and obtain sufficiently juicy grapes.
How did you manage the early start at Château Grand Escalion, your estate in Costières de Nîmes?
V.T.: The secateurs came out early there too; we began on the 21st of August with the Syrahs. We harvested them between 3 and 9 a.m., in order to preserve the freshness and, therefore, the aromatic qualities of the grapes. Doing so also allowed us to save electricity for refrigeration. Lastly, we also kept a close eye on the weather, in order to act fast when conditions seemed ideal. The grapes that went into our rosé cuvée 'Amoureuses', taken from a limited selection of plots, were harvested on the 2nd of September.
What approach did you adopt at Domaine de Longue Toque, your estate in the southern Rhône Valley?
V.T.: We decided to plan ahead! On the Plan de Dieu, we began harvesting on the 2nd of September, in order to harvest as much as possible, as the grapes on the bunches were small. We then continued with Vacqueyras on the 8th of September and took a break before harvesting in Cairanne and Gigondas. In short, there was much travelling back and forth between our various plots, once again due to the differences in maturity.
« It was a year where we had to take our time and ensure precision.»
As a little aside, on the 21st of September, we had a feeling that we should speed things up, in order to finish harvesting all of our plots in the Dentelles de Montmirail mountain range. Maybe it was intuition, or experience... In any case, it was a good thing we did, because that very evening a hail storm came down, causing significant damage!
What did this very different year offer?
We had the benefit of a perfect state of health in the vines. As a result, we were once again able to vinify our sulphite-free cuvées in ideal conditions. 'Première Nature' 100% Merlot from Château Grand Escalion and 'Roques ‘N’Toque', our Grenache-Syrah cuvée from Domaine de Longue Toque. Fruity, moreish and pure expressions of their varieties, these are two excellent cuvées.
What are the main characteristics of the 2020 vintage?
We harvested less than last year, but the wines are particularly aromatic and, what's more, they reveal complexity. The Grenaches from the Dentelles de Montmirail offer spicy notes of pepper and clover. In Vacqueyras, on the other hand, there were aromas of raspberry and fresh fruits. At our 'lieux-dits' (specific vineyards) in Gigondas, there is also an aromatic exuberance, with notes of chocolatey raspberry, blackcurrant and crème de cassis.
« The common thread that runs through this vintage is elegance.»
The tannins are supple and silky on the whole, which perfectly matches consumers' current expectations.
Véronique Torcolacci has been working in the Maison Gabriel Meffre for 27 years, discover her portrait!