Each vintage is the result of a subtle and complex interplay of various factors. This year, the harvests began particularly early due to a fairly hot spring and summer. The harvests in the northern and southern parts of the Rhône valley began at the same time, which is unusual.
The stars were aligned this year, with hot temperatures, plenty of sunshine, not much mistral wind and low humidity levels providing ideal conditions for a “perfect state of health,” says Véronique.
An early vintage
“The situation was similar to 2017. We had to work fast with the harvests of the white grapes, because, from an aromatic point of view, the hotter it is the more aromas are altered. So, to preserve the varieties’ typicity, we had to begin early, as there was no time to lose! It is just as well we did, because the aromatic profiles are very expressive, in particular the Viognier, a delicate variety, which is bursting with notes of apricot and white flowers in the vat,” explains Véronique.
With the effects of global warming, we have seen harvests begin earlier and earlier in recent years. In order to avoid the effects of oxidation on the grapes and a rise in the temperature of the juices, with hot days continuing into late August and September, we are increasingly working in the cooler hours of the night. It is essential to carry out analyses in order to know when to harvest each grape variety. For Véronique:
“We need to be ever more adaptable and attentive to the needs of the vines each year. It is up to us to change the way we do things in order to find the best harvest dates, and blend varieties early or late, in order to obtain quality juices. Nothing is set in stone: what is true one year may not be the next.”
"It's a fascinating challenge, which puts us through our paces !"
The promise of the 2020 vintage
It is too early to describe the 2020 vintage. However, Véronique has already detected
“very silky reds, with smoothness and sweetness in the tannins.”
The 2020 vintage promises reds with fruity and spicy notes, and fresh wines, which are ready to drink and will easily accompany your meals.
As for the whites, Maison Gabriel Meffre has maintained an excellent balance of aromas, as well as between ampleness and freshness, for airy wines. For lovers of rosés, the Rhône valley offers some superb alternatives to wines from Provence, in terms of both taste and price. Our Côtes du Rhône are set to be very aromatic, with beautiful pale shades.
The creative phase
Now that the vats are all filled, the teams will begin the maturation and blending of the wines. For Véronique,
“I particularly enjoy this creative phase. It is the crowning moment of the whole year, when we complete the work that began in the vines.”
It requires many hours of tasting and experimenting with blends. All of the members of the team are involved. The creation of a vintage involves ideas, tests, thoughts and feelings.
Beyond technical aspects, a vintage is a human adventure. 2020 brought its own particular difficulties, but also some magnificent harvests with quality grapes and some special moments spent together with the teams. For Véronique, the 2020 vintage will be a reflection of this – “sweet and smooth” – as if to remind us that the sun always shines after the rain!
Did you know?
2020 is also the year of Domaine de Longue Toque’s first certified organic vintage, which you can read about in this article!