After 18 harvests at Domaine du Poujol, you’d think we’d be getting pretty good at predicting the quality of a harvest. But no, the schizophrenic weather over the previous year - floods in Nov 2011, extreme cold in February 2012, wet spring, dry almost drought-like summer with extreme heat almost the whole month of August - meant that it was impossible to know what the harvest may bring.
Despite the hot weather in August, we started picking on 6th September, a little later than the last few years. The early ripening parcels produced exceptionally low yields of intensely flavoured grapes, but with less potential alcohol than you’d expect under the circumstances. By contrast, later ripening varieties had higher yields which delayed ripening to the extent that 2012 was the longest harvest we’ve ever experienced at Domaine du Poujol. We finished harvest 10th October, the latest end to harvest since the ‘90’s. Despite the very low yields from some parcels, and in contrast to most of the rest of European vineyards, overall our yields were up in 2012. As a consequence, the wines have delightful aromas and finesse. In addition, sugar levels were the lowest we’ve seen for a decade, resulting in modest alcohol levels. For example, in 2012, the Mourvedre was harvested 5 days later in the month than in 2011, but produced a wine with 2% less alcohol than the previous vintage’s.
Sangliers (wild boar) inflicted a lot of damage this year. We are claiming from the local hunters, whose activities are supposed to protect commercial crops, but we’re only likely to get a fraction of the loss. The hunters did loan us some electric fences around the Mourvedre and Syrah parcels, and saw a big difference, qualitatively as well as quantitatively, as the sangliers tend to sniff out the best fruit. Clearly, we’ll have to fence off many more parcels next year which will be a great hassle to take down during harvesting.
We have been helped this year by volunteer woofers - workers on organic farms - coming from Germany, Sweden and Vermont. They were all very interested in what we were doing and it has been a pleasure to host them. We hope that they’ve left with a better idea of what happens on a small scale family farm at harvest time.
After a Decanter silver medal for 2009 Podio Alto, the 2010 received a star from Guide Hachette and a note of 14.5/20 from Gerballe & Maurange guide to best value French wines.
Watch out for a review of Pico in the forthcoming December 2012 Decanter magazine.