La Vallée du Rhône
In 2003, The grapes for the whites (Viognier, Marsanne and Grenache Blanc) for ready at the same time than the Syrah: around 28th August. We then had to wait for 10 days for the phenols of the other grapes for the reds (Grenache, Cinsault and Carignan). Luckily, the nights were colder and the grapes were ripe with small berries and a lovely sugar concentration. The Mourvedre, grape variety which is matured at a later stage, was picked around 18th September and offered a nice vintage. My father who felt that the summer would be really hot, left an important canopy around the grapes, which permitted to obtain reasonable alcohol degrees( no more than 13.5) and to prevent the aromas to turn toasted, jammy or preserve. The traditional fermentations lasted between 6 and 10 days (no crushing and whole berries for the Grenache). Comments from Philippe Guigal at Ampuis: In 2003, the lack of water entailed small berries and small bunches of grapes. The wines are concentrated for the colour, the tannins, the acidity and the fruit. The following data comes from "Bilan du Millésimes" Service technique d'Inter Rhone. 2003 is characterized by high temperatures and very low rainfalls. Winter 2003 was hot and humid with frosts in February , the rain level registered a drop. Spring was exceptionally warm and dry. The vegetal growth was such that at the end of May "an early year" was already mentioned. Summer 2003 was hot with a water deficit between 40 and 50% depending on the districts. On 26th and 27th July , the hail damaged a few districts. The harvest was early (from 20th August onwards) and fast because of the low yield. The efficiency of the thermoregulated cellars is important in 2003. Impact on the grapes: In 2003, the impact of the drought and the high temperatures on the grapes was more or less obvious depending on the age of the vine and its position in the vineyards. The young vines suffered the most and asked to be closely monitored. Consequences on the wines: In 2003, the high alcoholic degrees entailed slow fermentations and sometimes they even stopped. The tannins were a bit rough at the beginning of the fermentation. The whites are rich and full bodied. They develop flowery aromas. The roses are balanced, rich and more structured then usually. The strawberries aromas are dominant.
In 2004 the harvest started from 9th September to 1st October. The grapes were healthy like in 2003. The alcoholic and malo lactic fermentations were carried out naturally and rapidly and they offered a perfect acidity and sugar balance. For the first time We managed to vinify in 23 days a parcel of Syrah as suggested by Jean-Louis Grippat. The vintage "Chaveyron 1422" was born. The white wine "Per El" was made after 3 severe sortings of the grapes (in July before the harvest and by the harvest) because the Grenache Blanc and the Marsanne were more sensitive to the weather conditions. The end result is unique : 22 hl per hectare. Comments from Philppe Guigal at Ampuis: At the north of the Rhône Valley, it started raining heavily at the end of August. The wine is full-bodied, rounder with softer tannins. This wine can be kept even less than 2003 wines. In the South, the quality is superior than 2003. Data given by "Bilan du Millésime" Service technique d'Inter Rhône. 2004 Vintage is characterized by wind and patches of rainfalls. Winter 2004 was really dry. February and March represent the coldest months of this vintage.As a consequence, the buds came out later slightly later (4 to 5 days later) in comparison with 2003. At spring, The lack of water became worse and the strong Mistral wind made some damages on in the vines. So the yield was quite low except for Carignan. Summer was typically Mediterranean: dry and hot. The mid-August rain ended the drought and permitted the grapes to mature in good conditions. The harvest was carried out from beginning of September to mid-October. Impact on the grapes: The weather conditions in 2004 were good and had a positive effect on the grapes and the vinifications. Consequences on the wines: In 2004, the acidity and sugar levels were well balanced and and the grapes were healthy. The huge malic acid contents permitted to get round wines. The white wines have citrus aromas, they are fresh. The roses are soft and sensuous. The red wines aromas are intense, they smell of blackcurrant, raspberry and grenade. The colours are dark, franc and the tannins are fin and velvety.