Vintage 2023

The shocks and the horrors were well worth the bother.

The fourth year of the cool and the damp has an undeniably admirable stamp. How could this be? Something precious has risen above its origins and holds an increasingly exciting and somewhat head scratching promise.

It’s a tough one to figure for the filigree found us rather than us finding it, strive as we did. The spring and early summer were diabolically damned with damp as those months overflowed the dams and underwhelmed our expectations. Bastard months, one after the other. Vignerons were stuck in the La Niña rut. Bogged even, rutted to near ruin by rain. Crops were downed by the downey, savior sought in systemic resorts while the weeds grew as fast as did our weariness from the worry. Oh buoy, hope almost drowned by the deluge, a vintage nearly washed away. But not quite!

In one day it turned.

Christmas Eve presented sunshine and the broken records of rain ceased. The spin cycled to dry, it was a mid summer season saving run of warmth and calm and respite. Without it surely we’d have been doomed? But then the overly arid threatened and we questioned this opposite stress; too dry? Not quite. La Niña wasn’t done. The teary damp was resurrected over Easter, a viticultural insurrection no less, and the humidity pushed hard again through April. The game had turned to dodge fast and avoid the fetid fungus. Act on a clear understanding of what was on offer and, critically, what the present threats were. Deciphering what was realistic (as opposed to hoped for) was the key. Then, after the sharp work of grape gathering was done, the fruit and ferment management lessons kicked in. The good old days, learnings from the cool 1990s, were revisited in mind and print and conversation.

Lo and behold, quite ridiculously so, the vineyards and the wines have pushed through and somehow worked out. There’s still a way to go, with malic acids to reduce, pHs to shift, young life on lees to live. In the cold months the wines keep shifting but they do so peacefully and we like to mimic them.

Comparing 2023 to recent challenging years (with the 2021 aberration standing among the greats) is a surprisingly happy reflection. In the furious moments of weather mayhem and emotional adjustments it seemed impossible to arrive at something wonderful. Yet here in mid July the 2023 wines in barrel rise above the testing season, above the difficulties in 2020 and 2022. Again the volumes are well down but in the face of what may have been in October, or December, or March, or April it’s a big win for meaningful wines.