Log In / Join Now

The New Vintage to Come in Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Julien Barrot has finished his 2008 harvest in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.

Posted: Oct 7, 2008 12:30pm ET

By Julien Barrot

Posted by Julien Barrot

Here we go: Harvest is finished; every grape is now in the cellar! We finished picking the Mourvèdre this past Wednesday. Like the classic line from Droopy the dog, "I'm Happy" (and really ecstatic). The weather has been quite nice, even if the temperatures remained cool (rarely higher than 68° F in the afternoon). The grapes are beautiful, but we have 20 percent less production this year than average. It's the lowest production I've seen since in my six vintages. (Indeed, six vintages is not a very long time—there will surely be others of this kind to come!)

We have harvested nine days of a 17-day period. The advantage: taking our time. Time allowed us to make the best possible choices (picking at the perfect time, etc.). But ironically, it also gave me more time to second guess myself. I had more doubts than usual on the plan we were following. The first week was dedicated to Syrah and Cinsault; the second week to the young Grenache (40 years old or younger). The rest of the second week as well as the third week was dedicated to the old-vine Grenache, and we finished on Wednesday with the Mourvèdre (a capricious variety if ever there was one …).

This vintage forced us to be very attentive from the beginning to the end ... and especially on the grape sorting, as the young Grenache started to develop botrytis. Concerning the old vines (which represent 45 percent of the domaine's vines), however, the fruit was stunning! Of course we kept the same close attention to them, as we didn't want to mess anything up.

From my point of view, quality this year is meeting our expectations: We have great color intensity, a good balance between acidity and sugar ... but (why is there always a "but" ... ?), this vintage is different, and it's a bit difficult to describe. My feeling is that, from the beginning, we had a succession of elements here at the domaine that lead the vintage to a real quality with a different personality. For example, the Syrah for the Fiancée leaves me speechless every time I taste it, but I don't really recognize it's true identity. Same for Pure—this year we are not sure if we should provide the same aging, we are not sure of meeting it's real personality. Maybe there won't be any Pure or Fiancée this year … BUT, it's way too early to say. Anyway, this is so exciting in 2008.

Julien Barrot pumps over one of his cement vats.  

As I said previously, this year was cooler than previous ones (some mornings were below 50° F), and we were really glad to have our old cellar built with underground cement vats. It's really helped us out to maintain constant and very well-spread temperatures. All the grapes have been kept around 59° F for between two to four days before gradually starting their fermentations.

2008 ain't over, and I think we have some more big surprises to come, but I am eager to see them, aren't you?

Would you like to comment? Want to join or start a discussion?

Become a WineSpectator.com member and you can!
To protect the quality of our conversations, only members may submit comments. Member benefits include access to more than 315,000 reviews in our Wine Ratings Search; a first look at ratings in our Insider, Advance and Tasting Highlights; Value Wines; the Personal Wine List/My Cellar tool, hundreds of wine-friendly recipes and more.

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 340,000+ ratings.