Nicolas Jaboulet : “The 2018 vintage, a year of extremes !”

Alexandrins Rue de hermitage

(From left to right on the picture: Alexandre Caso; Guillaume Sorrel; Nicolas Jaboulet)

Led by three people – Nicolas Jaboulet, 6th generation of a winegrowing family in Tain l’Hermitage since 1834, Guillaume Sorrel, son of Marc Sorrel of Domaine Sorrel in Hermitage, and Alexandre Caso, a specialist in the terroirs of the Northern Rhone – Maison & Domaines Les Alexandrins sets a new course with new ambitions encompassing the whole of the Northern Rhone Valley. Here are some comments from Nicolas Jaboulet on the 2018 vintage in Northern Rhone.

The spring season started with relatively mild weather before experiencing long and numerous storms with a strong cumulative rainfall in late May and early June. With a substantial water supply, the vine grew very quickly leading to a different approach to the work in the vineyard because it was necessary to de-bud and tie-up at the same time. The “green” work went on and on and it was important to be very thorough to create as much ventilation as possible at the base of the vines to avoid heaping and stagnant humidity. On a sanitary level, the opportunities to treat were reduced because of numerous episodes of wind and rain. We had to put in place night teams to treat the vineyard. This tuned out to be a good decision because this strategy allowed us to work in good conditions and to be able to reduce the copper and sulphur doses in favour of natural products despite a mildew pressure rarely seen in the Rhone Valley.

Then the heatwave arrived during the thinning period. Once again, the heatwave situation forced us to change our habits in the vineyard and we thinned the vine much less than usual in order to avoid exposing the bunches to the sun too much and roasting the grapes. No treatments were carried out during this period because there was no more risk of Mildew. The rainfalls on 9th and 10th August avoided some of the vines to suffer from drought and other older vines to get a second breath because at that time there were real water deficiencies. A “saving” rain that allowed to unlock Veraison.

The 2018 vintage is looking promising. It was technically very complicated and very labour intensive with many hours worked in the vineyards and constant scrutiny. Despite all the winemakers technicality and the time spent working in the vineyards, for the most part, we owe the quality of our grapes to the change of weather between spring and summer. Without a helping hand from Mother Nature this year, the “extremes” could have got the better of us. A beautiful vintage, perfect alliance of the know-how of the winemaker and the grace of Nature!