Beaujolais Aujourd’hui reports that vintage 2012 marks the beginning of a new era for the region.
The challenging weather conditions, they say, bring attention to efforts by growers to produce quality wine. The 2012 harvest of 508,860 hectoliters represents a reduction of 40% as compared to 2011. Overall yields were barely 30 hectoliters per hectare. Among the Crus, the greatest shortfall was in Régnié (-52%) and the smallest in Saint-Amour (-24%). The problematic season began with a cold wave in early February which did considerable damage, particularly affecting old Gamay vines. Flowering also saw difficulties, and there were attacks of oidium and mildew as well as hail storms throughout the area. The grapes eventually picked were generally healthy and ripe with the occasional dry berries to be removed at sorting. The vintage is, the magazine suggests, difficult to characterize, and the wines are of very different levels from one estate to another.
The article points out that vinification techniques have evolved in Beaujolais. Methods such as full or semi-carbonic maceration are giving way to conventional fermentation followed by aging in small oak barrels. Growers now may practice “destemming, pumping over, délestage and pigeage,” prolonging vatting up to two weeks as opposed to eight to ten days in the recent past.