Provence Vintage Chart
|2015||Drink/Cellar||After a very wet winter for the second year running, spring was warm and dry and bud break took place earlier than usual. Flowering went well, and summer was generally warm but without excessive heat; rain around June 15th was helpful. The conditions of steady, tempered heat continued throughout August, and the rosé harvest began at the end of that month under clear skies, with grapes for white and red wines generally picked in the first half of September. Quantities are slightly lower than in 2015 but quality is exceptional; Bandol reds are outstanding.|
|2014||Drink||Winter was wetter than average, especially in January and February, and there were further episodes of rain in March and May. Summer was cooler than usual with occasional further storms and hail episodes around Mont Sainte-Victoire and in Coteaux Varois. The weather cleared at the end of August, and September was the warmest month of the summer, though from mid-September the Mistral gave way to an easterly wind which saw the return of humid conditions. September 19th brought violent storms and hail in Bandol, though many growers had picked by then. Quality was better than growers had feared, with fresh, lively whites and rosés and poised, mid-weight reds.|
|2013||Drink/Cellar||After a long, cool and slow spring, the entire growing season (bud break, flowering, véraison and harvest) was about two weeks later than usual. There were hail storms in the Var in June, but the disease pressure of early summer gradually abated thanks to the Mistral as September approached. It was a good vintage for those who long for delicacy and freshness in white and rosé wines, but the reds are light to mid-weight and, generally speaking, not for long storage.|
|2012||Drink||Rainy spring, hail in central Provence in late May. Hot, dry summer, drought in Bouches-du-Rhône. Rainstorms from mid-August into September. Fresh, elegant rosés. Concentrated whites with marked acidity, best will keep. Restrained, balanced reds, Coteaux Varois Syrah stands out. Moderate alcohol levels. Overall volume down by 20%.|
|2011||Drink||Mixed growing season. Dry, sunny spring, flowering in good conditions. Uneven summer: cool, wet July; hot, dry mid-August to mid-September. Beneficial moisture in early September followed by drying Mistral wind. Cool nights during harvest. Heterogeneous maturation. Elegant, aromatic rosés, well-defined reds, especially Coteaux Varois & d’Aix. Bandol particularly successful & structured; best will need cellaring.|
|2010||Drink||Widely varying weather by département. More rainfall in some sectors than recent years. June floods in central Var. Harvest pushed back by 1 to 3 weeks depending on locale; some red varieties not picked until end of October. Most reds moderately concentrated, whites & rosés with high acidities, generally lower alcohol: a year of finesse. Alternating sun/rain resulted in late, extended harvest in Bandol: spicy, defined reds, moderate alcohol.|
|2009||Drink||Beneficial winter rains, good weather. Dry summer. Early vintage, balanced sugar & acidity enhanced by diurnal temperature variation. Ripe wines of all colors, very successful reds. In some cases, elevated alcohol, low acidities. Hot, dry summer in Bandol, even Mourvèdre ripened early. Reds reveal fruit, notable acidity, fine tannins.|
|2008||Drink/Past peak||Difficult year. High levels of mildew & colder, wetter end to growing season demanded careful vineyard maintenance. Smaller crop of fresh rosés & whites, fruit-filled & defined reds. Generally lower alcohol, higher acidity. Varied September weather in Bandol yielded reds with tension & definition. With a“cooler,” more classic expression than 2007.|
|2007||Drink/Past peak||Warm August leading up to harvest. Cool nights. Storms in Var, Coteaux d’Aix. Elsewhere, water & wind stress in summer. Early healthy harvest but rather low volume. Atypically ripe, fleshy, sometimes heady whites & rosés. Reds with concentrated fruit. Bandol shines very expressive with generous fruit; best demand further aging. Some compare 2007 to 1998, an exceptional year.|
|2006||Drink/Past peak||Mild spring, some rain April through July. Hot windy August. Elevated amount of sunshine throughout season, lower precipitation. Drought in central Provence salvaged by late rains. Agreeable rosés, elegant whites. Structured reds suitable for mid-term cellaring, most are now ready. Extremely early harvest of healthy, ripe fruit in Bandol: reds are fresh, elegant.|
|2005||Drink/Past peak||In general, a dry season with absence of heat extremes, small harvest. Expressive, typical whites & rosés; firm reds with intense fruit. In Bandol, cool August nights, September punctuated by rain, no mistral; low yields, concentrated, well-defined reds for keeping. In general, less salutary results in Provence than other regions in ’05.|
|2004||Drink/Past peak||Low yielding year (35-40 hl/ha) across all types, particularly small for Mourvèdre. Above average acidity. Balanced reds with moderately concentrated, fine tannins. Hot summer days, cool nights freshened by Mistral produced attractive Bandol with moderate alcohol, spice & fresh acidity.|
|2003||Past peak||Summer heat wave, coastal vineyards enjoyed moderating winds. Notably low yields in driest areas. Grenache suffered, Cinsault & Mourvèdre tolerated extremes better. Many wines with low acidity, high alcohol. Dry tannins in some reds; best are concentrated & required cellaring. Bandol reds have softened & surprised after time in bottle.|
|2002||Past peak||Rosés were good, many other wines often weak, green, unripe. Tiny yields in Bandol: reds are fruity with moderate alcohol.|
|2001||Past peak||Reds were a success, notably Bandol: powerful, aromatic with better phenolic maturity than 2000. Rosés to drink on release, heavy whites now well past their best.|
|2000||Past peak||High temperatures, low yields in Bandol resulted in dense wines with high alcohol. Reds tended to have unripe, dry tannins. Weak, fragile whites.|
Methodology: This report has been compiled utilizing multiple authoritative sources including regional trade associations, experts in each region, wine producers, academic studies, leading journalists, and the editor’s personal notes.
Acknowledgements: E. Gabay MW (Provence); Hugel family (Alsace); D. Markham (Bordeaux); K. McAuliffe (Rhône); M. Stubbs MW (Languedoc-Roussillon).
Editor’s comment: This chart is intended to serve as a reliable guide for professionals, educators and collectors. Judgments as to the quality, longevity and current maturity of a given vintage are by definition simplified assessments describing the average profile of the year. There will always be individual wines which surpass, or fail to reach, the overall standard, or which may have a shorter or longer life than their peers. Last, these evaluations are not fixed and permanent; rather, they will be revised as needed to reflect the wines as they age in bottle.
LEARN MORE ABOUT PROVENCE WINES:
- PROVENCE WHO'S WHO WITH ELIZABETH GABAY MW
- MYTH BUSTING: ENIGMATIC BANDOL WITH ELIZABETH GABAY MW
- PROVENCE: IS THERE LIFE BEYOND ROSÉ? WITH ELIZABETH GABAY, MW