"These are really the earliest harvests we have had. In 2003, it was August 18, in 2020 on the 17th and again, we could have started them yesterday, Monday, or last week", reports the AFP Jacques Lurton, president of the Pessac-Léognan Bordeaux appellation syndicate.
"This is due to an exceptional climatology, the cycle of the vine has accelerated beyond what we knew", added Mr. Lurton, specifying that "it is at this moment that the aromatic peak of the sauvignon is the highest, the perfect time to pick up".
In Bordeaux, as in many French wine-growing areas, the high temperatures of June, July and August accelerated the ripening of the grapes, forcing winegrowers to bring the harvest forward by several days, even several weeks.
Thus, some Languedoc-Roussillon winegrowers were already giving their first pruning strokes at the end of July.
To these scorching heat was added an "unprecedented drought in Gironde", underlines Jacques Lurton. Fortunately, "the vine held up. It suffered, but not to the point of withering."
In the region, three appellations - Pessac-Léognan, Pomerol and Saint-Emilion - had this summer obtained the authorization to irrigate their young vines, in bad shape due to the extreme climatic conditions.
As for Bordeaux crémants, which traditionally kick off the harvest, nearly 400 pickers are hard at work to start Wednesday at the producer Bordeaux Families for three weeks of harvest.
- "A good vintage" -
"Despite the strong heat recorded in recent weeks, the 2022 vintage will seduce its consumers, with a cuvée of great maturity, while maintaining good acidity", declared the group made up of Bordeaux cellars Louis Vallon and Sauveterre-Blasimon- Espiet.
"Our harvest starts early because we always need a certain acidity, a certain freshness in the wines. The danger of crémant is to start too late", explains its technical director Pascal Mondin.
"We had a hot period, even very hot, but paradoxically the plants resisted quite well. It got hot very early, the vines got used to this climate much earlier than usual. With the exception of of some young vines, they did not show too many signs of water stress", he underlines.
On Saturday, the rain finally showed the tip of its nose, and winegrowers are expecting a lot from the next rainfall to preserve the expected "nice vintage", according to the Bordeaux Wine Interprofessional Council (CIVB).
"Great vintages are early vintages. So that's good news. However, the berries are still small. It would take one or two storms without hail to help swell the grapes," explains its communications director Christophe. Castle.
Still in white, the vineyards of Graves and Entre-deux-Mers should in turn harvest "at the end of the week and the beginning of next week".
For the reds, the harvest generally begins "around September 12", specifies the CIVB.
"We are having a good vintage, and with a little rainy episode, we are preparing for a rather nice vintage. Maturity happened very quickly, in a homogeneous and optimal way", continues Pascal Mondin, who is counting on the first week of September for the first reds.
Just like in Pessac-Léognan. "For the reds, I see the start of the harvest on September 1. But we have to see how things will evolve after the rains of the weekend", still abounds Jacques Lurton.