We don't blame you if you still haven't heard of Tartaras. We are still learning about it more and more with each visit to Anne and Pierre-Andre Deplaude. This time, we were fortunate to have a quick lunch with them as they had just finished harvest the day prior to our arrival.
The press was on when we walked into the cellar, and their assistants, Remi and Guillaume, were busy with a décuvage of gamay. They reported that harvest had started early this year, on August 23rd, and ended on September 21st. Quality and quantities were up, and the smile on everyone's face was a sure sign of a promising vintage. Particularly exciting was the first fruit in one of their new parcels of chouchillon, a local grape, and a couple other recently acquired parcels of pinot noir and gamay that yielded excellent grapes beyond their expectations.
The whites in barrel were already coming along nicely and the 2017s in bottle were absolutely fantastic. If these are any indication, we are in for a couple of excellent years of wines from Les Deplaude de Tartaras.
We arrived to Martin's house in the morning after harvest had finished. Outside of losing 80% of his grenache harvest due to an attack of mildew that developed too fast to be handled, and a bit to a local wild boar population (he actually just obtained his hunting license), he is overall happy with the 2018 vintage. Martin averaged 32 hectoliters/hectare across the entire domaine raising his production by 2000L for the year.
Harvest started in mid-August in St.-Julien-en-St.-Alban with the grapes that will go into his pét-nat, Petite Nature, and lasted almost exactly a month. Even though it was a hot, dry year - one of the most extreme on record in most of France - the grapes that came out of it were perfect and balanced even if a bit higher in potential alcohol than in years passed, mostly in the 13-13.5% range.
Martin had just moved to a new cellar this summer so he was a bit worried that the fermentations wouldn't start as fast as usual, but he was happily surprised once everything was going smoothly. Because of the heat this vintage, he opted for a shortened maceration time to achieve the fresh, translucent style of wine he is becoming known for, and with great results thus far. In his words, "Good aromatics, good grip, very little volatile acidity - works for me."
We are very excited that the 2017s are on their way to the US. We were also able to taste a few barrels of Brézème that will be held back for prolonged elévage, and all we can say so far is that it is exceptional. Stay tuned.
By the time we had arrived at the estate, harvest had just finished. Some of the reds were still macerating in tank; the whites had already been pressed and were fermenting nicely.
This year the focus was on his Patrimonio wines as these were the parcels that produced the best yields and quality of fruit. Mildew was a big problem in his parcel that is used for Tranoï blanc, and birds all but decimated the fruit that survived. This was also a problem in his parcel of grenache which saw a 50% decrease in yields. He admitted to missing some opportunities to combat the mildew as he is still slowly taking over all viticulture at the estate from his father, but that what he was able to save is great fruit. All in all, Thomas was happy with the vintage and is very confident that the wines will be fantastic.
We had a long night with Nicolas Mariotti Bindi last week tasting and catching up on the 2018 vintage. 5am may not be the ideal time to be tasting in the cellar, but we'll say it was worth it.
Much like many other growers in the Patrimonio AOC, pressure was high due to mildew in the early part of the season being uncharacteristically wet. However, just like the Marfisi family, Nicolas jumped into action and was able to get into the vines and stay on top of treatments to minimize his loss. It worked, and he is looking forward to a plentiful vintage. In fact, it is one of the biggest harvests on record for this young domaine.
Though almost all of the wines are in different stages of macerating and fermenting, harvest is still underway at the estate as he waited a week to begin harvest of the old vines in the Porcellese parcel. This will begin on Monday 9/24. All of the juice in tank is coming along nicely, with everything showing clean, fresh, and balanced. Nicolas was confident that 2018 will be a stellar vintage, and from what we have seen this far, we have to agree.
As Mathieu explains it Clos Marfisi could have had a near perfect year. At the end of the year, the quality of the fruit was near perfect, something unexpected early in the season when the pressure from mildew was extreme. Something Mathieu, Toussaint and Julie are very unaccustomed to in Patrimonio. At the end of the day, they managed their treatments early enough to not suffer as much as some others and after veraison the year was hot and dry, and harvest started on the 13th of August.
The problem came in the days before harvest, when Mathieu was in the vineyards checking fruit that he noticed wild boars had been going hard in his Ravagnola vineyard right beside the "maquis" (the dense brush called garrigue in France) which cost them about 160 hectoliters in total (about 40% of his crop), a blow in a year where they were expecting above average yields with high-quality fruit.
In the cellar Mathieu is happy with the wines so far, though it's early of course. It's going to be a fresh year at the clos, with wines in the 12% ABV range.