Winter, spring and summer were relatively dry with a significant water deficit (approx. - 40%) compared to a normal year. June and July were excessively hot, which allowed the vines to catch up on a delay in growth in the early part of the season. The weather led to the grapes being of a particularly interesting quality: small size, thick skins and early phenolic maturity (tannins and colours). The harvest therefore looked highly promising but, just to add a little bit of spice, we were treated to a superb week of storms and heavy rain during the first week of September, which reminded us that there are certain disadvantages to vineyards on slopes, not least of which is gullying. Fortunately, there is also a positive side: the grapes don’t suffer the consequences of excess water and this, combined with bunch and leaf thinning, meant that the remaining leaves and grapes received plenty of air and we were able to start the harvest with some peace of mind. In addition, the thick skins made the bunches more resistant, allowing them to cope with this rainy patch. The weather was kind to us over the rest of the month, making the task of harvesting the 2005 crop much easier. For the reds, picking started on the 19 September and ended on the 30th, a speed record for us, brought about by the early ripening of the normally late-harvesting varieties this year. In fact, the cold weather in February delayed the early varieties, and this led to all the varieties ripening at roughly the same time.
Early tastings have confirmed our observations and grape tasting. The wines are highly coloured and concentrated, with rounded tannins combined with a delightful freshness. We obviously need to confirm this with further tastings.
Saint-Chinian, 22 October2005