Wine Chronicles

Lisbon, Friday January 18th – 2019

2019 – The Importance of TIME

2019 just rang at our door and it seems to me a right time for us to look back into something essential.  The first results of vintage 2018 in some vineyards.

But before we go through this, it is very important for us to recall the importance of the effect of the vintage in every cuvée we try. It is something that might not always be recalled or thought of,  here in Portugal. Most of the market sales are driven towards the Latest Vintage sold and the concept of Vintage remains only around Port Wine.

  It is a true capital item to take into account when buying wines and looking for the type of wines we like, the type of profile they show off and the potential of this wines in Time.

Time, is not only a measuring element, it is an essential component in Wine, not only as duration but as weather related.

The wine making process is subject to different elements but I would say they are all specifically interconnected :

  • Human beings are at the center of the winemaking process, as wine did not occur just by chance. There is a very linked dynamic between weather, we might as well call it climatology of the year, the Grape variety used for grape growing and the type of soil and sun exposure that that Vine was planted in.
  • Time as weather is essential for the comprehension and the appreciation of  any specific wine. This becomes extremely evident when we use only Natural indigenous yeast to make the fermentation of the must.

Moreover when we buy wines for us to enjoy, age or to offer, the vintage is a really important part of our choice, because this might determine a big part of the type of wine we might be buying. Taking all this elements in mind can become extremely complex and dissuasive. This is when wine professionnals come in hand to give out guidance and advice when you will be looking for something in particular. Even new generations Apps in mobile phones make this an essential part of the information.

As a matter of fact, we do not have the chance to see this, in many places in the Country. Wine lists show only the name of the Brand, Winemaker or Oenologist and not the vintage. People are not aware – anymore – of the influence of the vintage, the one they want is the most recent. This is a fact, and there are several reason behind, but this is not the matter of this article.


This said and having overlooked a brief but clear image of the importance of the Vintage, we may start having a look into our past vintage 2018.

Due to the particularity of my job I get to move out very often to different vineyards in the world. 2018 was a quite impressive vintage in some sectors and actually not the easiest in Portugal.

In order to begin I will start with some of the vineyards I know the most and was able to be present many times during 2018.

In Burgundy, even if we had the impression it rained all through the first three days of the year, there was lots of rain but in a good way it helped to rise a bit the cold winter temperatures. There were some sunny days that also helped to avoid any frost damages at the beginning of April. What a relief after so many vintages suffering big losses from start due to this issue.

In Champagne, likewise, the conditions were quite similar giving out great conditions for a promising harvest. It was a true certainty that the beginning of the year seemed to be quite clement and warm. The vintage went along without much distress and managed to achieve arriving to June and July in great harmony, with hot chapters but not too crazy temperatures. The result of this vintage for harvest was just Spectacular.

As a great outcome, Harvest 2018 was just outstanding. As for Champagne and Burgundy, the weather conditions were almost flawless, just a few episodes of rain but nothing to worry about any hail or any other incident.

Sites like Vosne-Romanée where I was set the full period, the setting was just not common for a very long time. The Pinots were ripe, no pressure of any diseases almost until the end, yet a quite early crop which started around August 20th in few warm spots like Corton, Aloxe and Savigny-les-Beaune.

Some Domaines endured a very long period of harvest that extended almost a month.

This Harvest happened from North to South in quite unbelievable quantities having at the same time an almost irreproachable quality. Sorting tables were almost not even necessary. From my experience it is nothing like what I have seen before and by far as some of the elders said, it is something merely seen once in a lifetime.

Looking back at Champagne this vintage was an incredible moment of Joy for all the winemakers who were able to rebuild solid stocks for their reserve wines along with great quality. The wines were in fact very ripe and some parts of Champagnes had warmer profiles which would mark up the vintage in a very special way. Furthermore the outcome so far has been very positive, some of the winemakers started to talk about a quite unlikely vintage in the last years. The season was almost flawless and winemakers were able to follow the vineyards in great conditions. Champagnes houses communicate about the first vintage champagne they might be making this decade. The Production was quite surprising and went up 56% regarding 2017.

In order to illustrate this further in detail, soon will come a wide interview with David Léclapart, Champagne Winemaker and Alejandro Muchada, Spanish winemaker set in San Lucar de Barrameda.

They have both a common project in Andalusia. I have had the chance to accompany them since their first vintage in 2017. We have been exchanging widely about this subject.

I will share with you this great exchange in a futur article.

Free until the last Drop…

Alejandro Chávarro

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