THE 2013 VINTAGE IN ALSACE:
EARLY PICKING ENSURES A GOOD YEAR!
Winemakers will not forget the 2013 vintage in a hurry. Indeed, the climatic conditions meant they needed to draw on all their expertise.
Alsace had a fresh, but very humid, winter and spring. The combination of these conditions, which persisted until June, and very low temperatures in May, meant flowering was severely delayed, staggered and irregular - leading to problems with flower shatter and millerandage. From the start of summer, a decrease in volume and a delay in harvest seemed inevitable. The months of July and August were marked by strong heat waves, leading to water stress problems in some areas. The low rainfall during August allowed the vines to catch up a little on their slow development. Periods of hail seen around Colmar luckily had little impact.
Overall, in September, the vines displayed satisfactory health conditions. The initial high levels of acidity dropped, whilst still remaining favourable to the freshness of the wines. It’s worth pointing out that at the start of the harvest the region benefitted, for once, from ideal climatic conditions: sun, mild temperatures and night-time freshness.
Determined by maturity controls in the vineyards, as they are every year, the the 2013 harvest dates were the following:
- AOC Crémant d’Alsace - 19th September
- AOC Alsace - Wednesday 30th September for all grapes, but 7th October for Riesling and Gewurztraminer
- AOC Alsace Grands Crus - 30th September for all lieux dits and all grapes (bar exceptions requested by certain local Appellation management, but 7th October for Riesling and Gewurztraminer
- Vendanges Tardives and Sélections de Grains Nobles - 14th October
Despite everything, the harvest was not simple! It had to be organised according to the meteorological conditions (there was a rainy period at the start of October for example), according to the level of ripeness and healthiness of the grapes, and almost by varietal for each plot.
Crémants d’Alsace were the great success of this vintage, with Pinot Blanc being the main grape for these sparkling wines. Some excellent and well-balanced still wines with generous fruit flavours were also produced. Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer were particularly fresh, with balanced alcohol making them very food-friendly. The Pinot Noirs have good colour, and an attractive balance of tannins and acidity. Sylvaner is light and crisp.
Muscat shows good typicity, but volumes suffered because of the flower shatter. Harvest conditions proved more challenging for Riesling which was picked later and therefore suffered from the wet weather. Luckily, the management of the vines’ vigour once again proved key in maintaining quality. In the end, the wines show ripe fruits and white flowers on the nose, with a good texture on the palate associated with well-defined acidity.
Taking into account the more delicate climatic conditions recorded during the final two weeks of October, and the poor yields recorded in general, the production of Vendanges Tardives and Sélections de Grains Nobles was extremely limited with a total recorded volume of 3,817 hl (a decrease of more than 60% in comparison to 2012).
In summary, the 2013 posts a volume of 976,115hl for all AOCs collectively, some 12.9% lower than in 2012 and 11% lower than the average for the last five vintages. This can be split into 679,839 hl for Alsace AOC (32,026 hl of this figure represents the Communes and Lieux-dits), 38,026 hl for Alsace Grands Crus and 240,250hl for AOC Crémant d’Alsace.
Commercially, the total figure for all Alsace wines sold in 2013 is 1,066,457hl (142.2 million bottles). This volume represents an increase of 1.4% compared with the previous year, which was driven by exports which have increased by 4.6%; the French market, for its part, has remained stable.
Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins d’Alsace
Colmar – May 2014