2020 Harvest at the Hospices de Beaune by Jasper Morris, Master of Wine

2020 Harvest at the Hospices de Beaune by Jasper Morris, Master of Wine

15 November 2020, Beaune, Burgundy

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Picking began on Tuesday 18 August and finished on Friday 28th, the first year in which everything was picked before the end of August!

Though there was a minor risk of frost at the beginning of April, the major worry was whether or not the vineyard teams would be able to carry out their work during the months of ‘le confinement’, or lockdown. Fortunately, this proved to be possible and there were no incidences of the pandemic out in the vines. The season was mostly uncomplicated too, with a long dry sunny spell in early spring, followed by a rapid flowering in mid to late May. While there had been a substantial crop set at the outset, the flowering was not universally successful and estimates were revised downwards.

While June was relatively cool and with just enough rainfall, July and August proved to be considerably warmer, and in particular, very dry. Estimates had to be revised further down, as berries remained small and in isolated cases, suffered from being grilled by the sun. Drought, more than extreme heat, was the issue, but in all other respects the vines and the grapes were exceptionally healthy.

The Burgundians have a saying that in an early vintage, you need to pick early! Just as in 2018 and 2019, Ludivine Griveau found it necessary to advance the timing of the harvest. Though the first grapes through the door were white – a cuvée of Meursault, and the Pouilly-Fuissé, which is always ready early – the general trend was to pick the reds first, beginning with Volnay. In fact, throughout the harvest, the pinot noir and chardonnay could be alternated, making the best use of the facilities at the Hospices de Beaune cuverie.

The whites were magnificent from the start with near-perfect analyses of sugar levels and acidity. The reds also were picked before sugar levels could escalate or acidity diminish, and there will be a sound tannic structure. Ludivine Griveau bided her time until the wines were in the fermenting vats before passing judgement on the reds, where happily, the third sunshine vintage in a row has not produced any cooked flavours in the grapes, but left a fresh, vivid essence of pinot noir. Sensitive vinification at cooler temperatures will complete the picture.

2020 is Ludivine Griveau’s 6th vintage at the Hospices de Beaune. She and her team were serene throughout the harvest, which promises extremely well, and will be a fitting offering for the 160th Hospices de Beaune auction on 15 November.

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