2021 – A difficult wine year in Provence – 2

According to a brand-new information, the 2021 wine crop in Provence seems to be pretty good, at least in terms of volume! In my last newsletter a month ago, I feared that the volume could decrease by up to 30% compared to an ideal year. Now the CIVP, “Provence wine growers’ trade association”, reports that this year the volume may even be larger than for 2020! The volume for the Côtes de Provence alone is now estimated at around 900,000 hectolitres, which is 30,000 more than for the year 2020 and only 30,000 less than the average harvest (930,000) in the last 10 years!

Mechanically harvested grapes arrive at the winery

That the crop will be so large makes me a little thoughtful because the first estimates after the frost in early April were -30% and then the fire in August where 5% of the appellation’s vineyards were affected by smoke, soot, and fire extinguishing agents.

Admittedly, the CIVP’s Éric Pastorino, who is also the chairman of the Les Vignerons de Gonfaron wine cooperative, says, “We were lucky enough to take advantage of the rainy days just before harvest, which was favourable for the growth of the grapes.” and continues “In addition, the first juices are very aromatic and have a beautiful acidity that gives freshness to our wines this year. “This is probably the first time that I see that the vinegrowers are happy about rain before the harvest. In addition to muddy, difficult-to-work vineyards, the rain dilutes the grape juice by the ‘thirsty’ grapes absorbing the water and also the water on the grapes follows into the winemaking. It was dry this summer, so can it be positive that the concentrated grapes are diluted? Maybe not for the quality but for the volume?

The fact that the volume is so good is probably because the second generation ‘unripe and “green grapes” have been used in winemaking. As I discussed in the previous post (2021-10-26), this has less of an impact on white wines and rosé wines. Another factor that allows the Côtes de Provence to keep the volume high is that permission has been granted to use activated carbon to remove any odours from the fire-affected vineyards.

“Ordinary” grape clusters on the left and second-generation grape clusters on the right

My conclusion regarding the quality of the wines for vintage 2021 is that the red wines from quality producers will be high because the grapes are so concentrated, however, the volume is likely to be significantly lower.

For the white wines and rosé wines, I expect a greater difference in quality than usual between those who have invested in volume versus those who have invested in quality. Great competence and resources were required for the harvest, given the uneven ripening within and between vineyards, to have taken place at the optimal time.

There is already a great deal of demand pressure from négociants who already in mid-November had the rosé wines presented to them, wines which will then be released on the market on the first of December. Speaking of quality, the 2020 vintage of my absolute rosé wine favourite, Clarendon from Domaine Gavoty, was first blended in January this year to be bottled in the spring, i.e., several months after the volume rosé wines.

Sources: Vitisphere Newsletter 2021-11-19, CIVP

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Göran Boman, Author of the books “Provence – Vita, röda och även roséviner” and “The Wines of Provence – Tricolour”

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