1997 at Domaine de Marcoux
From 6 January to mid-April: not a single drop of rain. Then on 17 April, after a thin drizzle, a cold snap came. The freeze caused serious damage to all types of crop, and throughout the Côtes du Rhône region. In Châteauneuf-du-Pape we were luckier than most: that morning, a gentle Mistral blew down the Rhône and saved us – as it often does!
The Mistral is a feature of our terroir and climate which, when it blows long and hard, annoys and unsettles us. In winter, it can make pruning a tiresome task; in springtime, it can snap many shoots; and in any season, it makes you toil in the vineyard. But… when the Mistral blows we have no frost, no rain, no fog – indeed, some dub it “Docteur Mistral”. It is part of our life, and an important factor in the quality of our wines.
The first buds appeared around 9 March – very early indeed. With the nascent buds and the dry windy weather, we struggled to finish burning the winter’s clippings. The first flowers came very early too, around 12 May. Flowering stretched over time, and so did grapes’ change of colour.
Summer was rainy. We found a few berries attacked by rot, but fortunately it stayed benign. September saved the crop. Harvesting went ahead in dazzling sunshine, followed by a light Mistral.
We finished picking on 6 October at 11am – and at noon, rain began to fall.
At such times, we are very egotistical. We don’t think of those who were unable to finish harvesting in time – we think only of our own crop, out of harm’s way in the cellar!