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Rhône Harvest 2012: Michel Chapoutier’s notes

Tain l’Hermitage, August 31, 2012 — Michel Chapoutier made today a first announcement about 2012 in the Rhône Valley and said the beginning of harvest would be around September 17. Here are the main comments Michel Chapoutier made during this presentation.

From North to South of Rhone Valley, the grapes we tasted today seem to indicate that harvest should start on the second half of September

The very hot conditions during this summer have naturally affected the growth of the vines (closure of stomata to keep water in the cells) in the driest parcels. Consequently, a slow-down of the maturity has been observed or sometimes a phenomenon of concentration was noticed. Rainfall and temperature drops in recent days have boosted the activity, while temperature differences between day and night are favorable for aromatic finesse and for balance.

The vineyard is globally beautiful. Following a very dry winter and early spring, rainfalls alternating with beautiful sunshine favored the growth of the vines. Shoots have a good size and lignification seems to develop properly.

As a technical choice, we currently have willingly kept some grass on the lowest parts of hills that are sometimes wet. We can see the presence of weeds, platules which — in case of rain — absorb the excess water in competition with the vines, thus avoiding dilution and other inconveniences. Such areas are also slightly water-stressed as previously mentioned.

The threat of parasites was omnipresent this season, but we managed to contain mildew, powdery mildew (oidium) and others. Infusions, decoctions and others have contributed to curb the growth of fungi.

This was a tough year for the vigneron but overall the yields should be good. Counts are underway but on many plots we should have yields almost equal to last year. However the cold winter has, depending on the area, led to a mortality of some buds or vines, but the specific job of pruning has broadly off-set this phenomenon.

The weather conditions during flowering caused, depending on the areas, coulure (failure of the fruit to set) and millerandage (flower abortion) to quite different degrees. It turns out that it was much more in favor of clusters’ ventilation and did not result in a significant loss of grapes.

Finally, depending on the soil, the conditions in 2012 have contributed occasionally to a decline in yields — for white and red grapes as well — but overall it should be comparable to 2011.

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