Yannick Champ: about 2017 vintage

2017 has been a vintage with a few surprises. At the start we were very worried. There was a serious threat of spring frost like we had in 2016, which was quite catastrophic because we lost 70% of the harvest. With the frost alerts in spring 2017, we thought: “here we go again!”. But there was a real solidarity among the winemakers, of the Côte d'Or who were potentially subject to frost. for three consecutive mornings there they were at 4am, lighting straw fires, to make a smokescreen... so the morning sun wouldn't burn the young buds. It worked out very well... it didn't freeze in the Côte d'Or and was one of the few wine regions... this year in France to have been spared serious frost or hail. It's also important to mention or to clarify, it only worked because we had relatively light frosts, if we had had morning frosts of minus six or minus seven... obviously we would have... been effected just as much as the others. Anyhow it was a first in Côte d'Or to see this solidarity among winemakers. This was quite remarkable. Following that, it was a historically uneventful season, in terms of maladies. Personally, since 2002 when I started here at the domaine, I have never known a vintage this healthy. From what I've heard, from people around here, it is probably one of the healthiest vintages ever, going back decades. This suggested we had a really good harvest ahead of us, We picked the first plot of Ladoix on September 1st. We harvested the white Ladoix, which gave us a nice surprise... We reckoned if it was that good for the rest of the harvest, we'd have a lovely vintage. That was confirmed once we started the reds from September 5th, where with plot after plot we went from nice surprise to nice surprise. As we speak we haven't finished devatting yet, but the first results from the press are pretty encouraging. of course while the quantity of grapes going in is quite satisfying, we don't yet know the ratio of weight to juice. This year we had 5 heat waves, what this means for the vinyard is vines defend themselves from the heat, by growing thicker skins on the grapes, very thick skins. So we don't know until we press, if we will get a lot of juice, or very little. Today, as I speak, the first results of pressing are good, much better than I hoped, which is good news. This will make for our 2017 vintage, some generous quantities, and going by the fine quality of the first juice I'm tasting, with very soft tannins, a lovely fruit, beautiful colours. It's very encouraging. At the press, the juice I taste makes me think of 2007, which is quite paradoxical because 2007 was a completely different vintage. We started then with a very big heat wave in April, we had a rather cool summer, so very different, the alcohol in 2007 was around thirteen percent, thirteen and a half, and here it's more like twelve percent, between 11.5 and 12.5... for the most part around twelve, so a very different profile in terms of analysis, and yet the juice reminds me of 2007, which is hard to explain. I don't know how to explain it, it's a feeling... a feeling which makes me enthusiastic because 2007 is a lovely vintage. and if we can come close, to that kind of juice, I'd be delighted. And the team, it's been a big team, a small team, this year? This year we had great difficulty, I don't know why, it wasn't just Domaine Prieuré Roch, there was a scarcity of pickers, and a bidding war between estates offering higher pay or perks... to try and steal pickers from the others, it was quite complicated. We ended up with a small but exceptionally efficient team, we have their names, these are people we'll call back with great pleasure, since they managed the job of picking and sorting, such that I've never seen, ... an enormous yield! Team size isn't everything, It's true that top quality which we look for at the domaine, it was there for us. This vintage, it's also the inauguration of the new domaine winery? Yes, we have the opportunity and the pleasure to use our new winery, located in the new building at Prémeaux. It's where we'll put some of the barrels of the 2017 harvest for the first time, it's exciting... because for one thing the winery is absolutely gorgeous, it's dug out from the rock, with an ambient humidity and temperature which I think are perfect, so we'll try it and find out. We've split our harvest between the old winery and the new one, to see how each wine evolves in one and the other... so we can make adjustments, or perhaps decide to age a particular wine in one winery as opposed to another one. It's pretty exciting, to try out our new winery, our new toy!