After a cold and snowy winter, the sun started to appear at the beginning of March and never left !
The months of February and March were very dry with no rain at all (40 to 50% less than normal).
There was some spring frost at the beginning of April, but the Côte de Nuits did not suffer from it compared to the vineyards situated in the south of Burgundy.
Then, weeks followed weeks in a climate that had never been seen in Burgundy, with sun shining every day, no rain, very few showers, and with very high temperatures, in spring as well as in summer. One had to go back to the end of 19th. Century to find similar weather !! Even the 1947 and 1976 records were beaten !!
Therefore, the growth of the vine was extremely fast from April onward, and at the flowering, around 25th. May, we planned to start the harvest very early, at the beginning of September, with a production slightly smaller than average.
The months of June, July and August were very hot, with temperatures around 40°C, with no refreshing air at night, and most of all with no rain whatsoever. At the beginning of July, we started to note some grapes burnt by the sun while the "véraison" had already started.
From 15th August, everything went very fast. The grapes had reached maturity and the "ban des vendanges" was decided for Tuesday 19th. August !!!
We started the harvest on 23rd August, with our regular team of pickers. Temperatures were still very high, so we only picked in the morning, from 6.30 am to around 1.00 pm not to bring into the winery grapes which were too warm. The air conditioning system worked at its maximum capacity and each vat was also refrigerated individually.
The first analyses of the grapes revealed a low acidity and a maturity irregular in the different vineyards. Actually, the extremely high temperatures tend to stop the maturity of some grapes, but the potential alcoholic strength was promising.
An important selection was made in the vineyards to eliminate both burnt and dried berries. Therefore, the 2003 production was 30 to 40% less that a normal year, with yielding in juice even smaller, 40 to 50% less.
Once the grapes were in the winery, we had to watch very carefully the development of bacteria favoured by the low acidity and pay even more attention to the temperatures in the vats, while limiting the 'triturage' to prevent oxidation.
The vinification was short, about 10 days, and now that the wines are in barrels, we are surprisingly pleased by the quality of this vintage, so particular. Quantities are tiny, the smallest ever recorded, but quality is there.
We could notice a good colour extraction and a good concentration due to the thick skins and the extremely low yields in juice.
A most particular vintage which will remain in memories of future generations of Burgundians !
In Autumn 2004. after a racking at the beginning of September, the vintage was presenting itself quite favourably, and especially very different from what we had thought it would be year before. Though low in acidity, all the wines showed an unbelievable freshness and a great finesse ! We could also note a very beautiful concentration of small red fruit, with 'griotte' cherry dominating, no over ripeness, and, quite surprising, the terroir specifications are very present in each appellation with beautiful minerality.
A surprising vintage…to follow closely !