Click Here For Original Article by Harvey Steiman for Wine Spectator, November, 2014
For the men and women who make wine, perhaps no word is more packed with nervous anticipation than "harvest." After months of spending time, sweat and money in their vineyards, it's the moment to see what nature delivered. For California, 2014 brought another year of record-breaking drought. For America's East Coast, winter brought a deep freeze. For much of Western Europe, 2014 was unpredictable, with sun, clouds and plenty of hail in some unfortunate spots.
In the second of five 2014 vintage reports, American vintners report good harvests on both the East Coast and the Pacific Northwest. In Washington and Oregon, sunshine was abundant and harvest came early. In Virginia and New York state, winter was brutal, but most vines survived and produced good fruit.
The good news: A warm spring and summer with no heat spikes produced an early vintage with no significant rain at harvest. No disease pressure.
The bad news: Finding enough fermenting vats wasn't easy.
Picking started: Early September
Promising grapes: Pinot Noir in Willamette Valley
Challenging grapes: Maybe a bit warm for ideal Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
Analysis: One of the earliest vintages on record for Oregon Pinot Noir was almost entirely picked by Oct. 1, avoiding any significant rain events after a warm summer that ripened nearly everything. Alcohol levels remained moderate from most vineyards, with intense flavors.
“2014 is so clean,” said Jacques Lardière, the former winemaker for Louis Jadot in Burgundy, making his second vintage in Oregon for the French négociant's new project there. “There was very little left on the sorting table.”
The problem in some wineries was finding space to ferment the grapes. “We left fruit out on the vines,” said Stewart Boedecker of Boedecker wines. “The huge yield was more than we could handle.”
The big yields did not produce weak wines, however. “If you’re looking for power in your Pinot, 2014 is it,” said Rollin Soles of Roco, and still a consultant with Argyle. “It’s more powerful than 2012 but not as overpowering as 2009 could be."
The good news: Warm temperatures and an abundant, early crop produced picture-perfect grapes with soft tannins in the reds.
Picking started: Aug. 18
Promising grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot have vintners most excited.
Analysis: With no rain, no early freezes and a harvest that was mostly done by Halloween (about two weeks ahead of usual), Washington vintners are smiling. With no heat spikes and cool nighttime temperatures, the acidity balances in the young wines look to be ideal.
“With the lovely Indian summer, it was very pleasant to be working outside, crushing and pressing through the end of harvest,” said Kerry Shiels, winemaker at Côte Bonneville. “We were finished before the days got too short and cold.”
“We are still energized,” said Doug Gore, chief winemaker at Ste. Michelle Wine Estates. “All the winemakers are reporting rich, ripe flavors. Even though it was a warm harvest, generally the whites are super quality and the red tannins are elegant. One would expect bigger tannins in such a warm year. Not the case in 2014. This is key.”
There was even a frost in the second week of November to make ice wine from any Riesling left on the vine.