Guillaume d’Angerville's 2015 Vintage Report
Drought is Better Than Hail
Autumn 2014 and Winter 2014-15 were comparable with Autumn 2013 and Winter 2013-14. We had more rainfall than normal, but not enough to compensate for the drought that was to come later. December was the only month when frost hit in any meaningful way (-8°C towards the end of the month). February also saw (marginally) negative temperatures, and the fresh weather at the beginning of March held back the plant for a while. Rain shortage started at the beginning of spring and continued into April, when temperatures were higher than average. All in all, the start of the season for 2015 vintage was in line with average, not particularly precocious.
Heavy rainfalls at the very beginning of May were immediately followed by warm and dry weather. The plant reacted well. The season gathered momentum and became precocious, comparable with 2007 and 2011. May temperatures were in line with average, and rainfall deficit continue to grow. The first flowers appeared towards the end of May. We estimate June 3rd was the mid-point of flowering, which was very quick, during a week of glorious weather. June was near perfect, with some rain in the first half and high average temperatures (2°C above average). Warm weather and scarce rainfalls accounted for the absence of mildew: the plant progressed very rapidly and was in perfect condition. The vineyard had apparently not suffered from the previous three successive years of hail.
The turning point of the season was around the end of June and early July. Temperatures remained solidly above 30°C for most of the month of July and there was virtually no rainfall between June 15th and August 3rd. We feared sunburn for the grapes but this was very limited. The grapes seemed to have got progressively used to the high temperatures and lack of rain. Drought is better than hail. Nonetheless, we welcomed the rainfall (around 50mm) that occurred between August 3rd and August 8th. Better late than never.
The plant’s development, which had been blocked by the combination of the high temperatures with the absence of rainfall, regained momentum after the rainfall. Véraison (when the grapes start changing color) was very brutal and quick, at the beginning of August.
August looked in sharp contrast with July. Temperatures were 1° C below average and sun hours a good 25% below average. Yet, the wetter weather did not restart mildew or botrytis. All in all, the vineyard ended the season in perfect sanitary conditions: mildew was subdued through the entire season, and odium was also under control. One final biodynamic preparation was sprayed on August 25th.
We started the harvest on September 4th, almost a week earlier than the flowering date would have led us to forecast, and in perfect weather conditions. Grapes were ripe, with high natural alcohol content, and in immaculate condition, bringing wonderful aromas in the winery during harvest and vinification. As usual, we destemmed 100% of the crop and practiced very gentle extraction (no punch down). Most cuvées completed their fermentation process after a usual 2 to 2.5 weeks.
We were prepared for a small crop, due to the June-July drought. Average yields per hectare were low, in the mid-twenties (in line with 2014), with some significant differences between parcels (average yield is normally expected circa 35-38hl/ha).
At first taste, the Volnay wines of 2015 express their predominant ripe fruit character that made them immediately very approachable and seductive, even during the early élevage in the barrel: it’s as if the sunny days of the season reappeared in the glass. Yet, the wines are very fresh and elegant. The initial sweetness brought by the fruit gives way to a clean, energetic and fluid finish, held straight by ripe tannins. There is a lot more depth and breed in these wines than the solar season would have entailed.
The above was written by Guillaume d'Angerville in October of 2015.