Vintage 2020

LC_20_050697  photo par Leif Carlsson

Description of the vintage

2020 followed a beautiful 2019 vintage. The months following the end of the early 2019 harvest allowed the vines to build up fertile buds and make good reserves in the trunks and roots. Winter 2019/2020 was dry and mild. We feared an early budbreak, but colder temperatures in March delayed the budbreak to early April and there was no spring frosts after.

With Easter, the climate became much warmer and the vines grew rapidly during the second half of April, so end at the end of that month, most shoots already had at least five open leaves, boasting a good two weeks advance and a larger than usual crop size.

 Dry and sunny conditions kept the risk of diseases very low and precipitated the start of the flowering at the end of May. The flowering was fast, finishing for most vineyards very early June. Due to the perfect weather condition, coulure and millerandage were insignificant. Only the very last vineyards to flower showed some heterogeneity mostly because they were caught by cooler and wetter condition mid/end June.

 The crop size looked promising in every vineyard after the flowering. July became again very hot and dry, keeping low the risk of cryptogamic diseases (mildew). The grapes ripened very quickly and it was possible to spot the first berries changing colour (véraison) around the 14th July. By the end of July, the accumulation of intense heat periods and no rainfalls started to stress some vines. As usual, older vines do resist better to hydric stress, but it also strongly depends on the crop size. Vines carrying an excessive number of clusters started to show problems early August.

 August 2nd is a memorable day for the village of Turckheim and Wintzenheim because it rained a massive 60mm of water (over 2 inches) and without hail! Unfortunately, these summer storms can be very localized, so, some villages in Alsace benefited from good rainfalls that day, but sadly not all… This rain was so beneficial for the vines, especially the lighter gravelly soils, preventing serious stress and making the véraison finish quickly and evenly. The whole month of August was very warm, so a second rainfall mid-August was again very beneficial and accelerating the ripening process, so the harvest started August 25th with our valley floor Pinot-Gris. The speed at which the grapes ripened in 2020 is comparable to 2015. Early September, it was possible to measure up to 2.5% potential alcohol increase in a week! The 2021 harvest was epic, with the Covid restrictions and the need to really go fast, harvesting different vineyards every day, it was an organisational challenge. Checking vineyards regularly was crucial in determining the exact date of harvest. In some vintages, harvesting two days late has no consequences, but in 2020, it could mean that some wines would end up with residual sugar or excessive alcohol. There was some rainfalls early September but with no consequence. We finished the harvest the 15th September with our Grand Cru Gewurztraminer vineyards. No late harvest wines were made in 2021 (too dry, very healthy grapes and no botrytis!).

 The 2020 wines show good ripeness level and our efforts to be as much as possible on time to pick our vineyards (up to 90 people at one point) shows in the potential balance of the wines, with all wines being dry (really very dry for some) at the exception of single vineyard gewurztraminer. 2020 also has interesting acidity levels, mostly tartaric. Intense sunshine and luminosity helped the skins of the grapes to reach a good phenolic ripeness and therefore all the wines show great tannins, again, a characteristic very similar to 2015. A perfect foliage, a fast flowering and véraison, no stress… are all conditions that help the grapes to ripen physiologically quickly and can therefore be picked early, preserving valuable acidity. Overall, fermentations were very fast for the Gewurztraminer grape variety and slow for all other wines. The average yield of the domaine is 47hl/ha for the AOC Alsace wines and 32hl/ha for the Grand Cru wines, all producing roughly 220.000 bottles of wines. It is possible to say, with confidence, that 2020 is going to be a very good vintage!