We are delighted to publish our official harvest report for vintage 2023
General Overview of Languedoc-Roussillon
A very dry winter led to concern among producers across the whole region. Excessively dry soils affect microbial activity and reduce nutrient absorption, and any persistent lack of winter rainfall has the potential to create problems in the growing season. Drought persisted in the Aude region into the spring, while the Gard experienced some rain. Persistent and heavy rainfall in May however meant that things caught up quickly and growth was rapid over these weeks. Great vigilance and vineyard care was required during May and June, as the rainfall combined with higher summer temperatures and overall increased humidity meant that there was quite significant disease pressure. Overall, the 2023 vintage was a challenging one but the potential is high for all producers who are quality-focused and who manage their vineyards carefully, consistently investing in soil health.
Laurent Miquel - 2023 Harvest Summary
Despite the challenges of a very dry winter and the excessive humidity in summer, at Laurent Miquel we were able to harvest 100% of grapes on our two properties at the best of their maturity - the quality and aromatic characteristics are proving to be excellent. As always, our focus is on expressing freshness, complexity and the aromatic intensity of the grapes in our wines.
Approximately 3800 hl of grapes were harvested this year at Château Auzines, with just over 2800 hl vinified on site, with the rest sent to be vinified at Château Cazal Viel. The quantity harvested at Château Auzines of various grape varieties as follows:
Chardonnay – 1000 hl
Viognier – 300 hl
Albarino – 2300 hl
Syrah (red and rosé) -200 hl
Harvest Detail at Laurent Miquel - 2023
The extended dryness of winter caused us some concern, as our region experienced little to no rain for most of January and February and we worried about the level of water in the ground in the event of any summer heatwaves, as in 2022. Luckily, March brought steady and regular rainfall, without downpours, meaning that a normal budburst followed, with healthy early development of the new vintage.
Unlike in 2022, there were no drought or heatwave conditions in 2023 right through July and August. If anything, there was more overcast weather than usual, leading to high levels of humidity, increasing the risk of diseases like oidium and mildew. This meant careful, almost daily, monitoring of the vines in this critical growing period, to watch for signs of disease and some green harvesting where appropriate to allow for optimum ventilation among the bunches.
Harvesting started with Chardonnay in the third week of August, but just as we planned to start picking our Viognier in the final days of August, we were struck by 5 days of very high temperatures of over 40C. The grapes were at risk of losing acidity rapidly, as sugar levels started to rise. It was all hands on deck to harvest the Viognier as quickly as possible, as even by night the heat persisted. By early September, the temperatures dropped to more normal levels and we began harvesting the Albarino at Château Auzines, followed by the Grenache. Once these were in tank, we harvested our Syrah vineyards, finishing with Bardou, then Larmes des Fées, which always take several more weeks to ripen, thanks to the very old vines. We are also happy to report that despite Laurent’s fears about the impact of the short heatwave on the quality of the Viognier, he tells us that he is delighted with the resulting wine’s freshness. A testament perhaps to our north-south planting, as well as the older vines in most of our Viognier plots, as they have good water reserves thanks to their deep roots.
At the Auzines estate in Corbières, again we had less than average rainfall during the first three months of the year, so bud burst was a little bit later than in 2022. Drip irrigation (thanks to our lake) during the early growing season meant we could avoid the worst of any vine stress from a very dry soil. Rain in May brought relief and vegetation quickly caught up, although the extra humidity in June and July brought with it disease pressure of mildew and oidium. Daily, careful monitoring by the vineyard team meant that we were able to offset the risk. In the end, ripening was steady and the high altitude assured optimum natural acidity, despite the high temperatures at the end of August. We produced very fresh wines with high concentration, and a good level of malic acid.
In Cazal Viel in St Chinian, the ripening of grape sugars progressed in tandem with phenolic maturity thanks to a summer of even temperatures, albeit with more humidity than usual. The older vines managed to cope with the risk of oidium and mildew although the high temperatures at the end of August presented a challenge for the Viognier, resulting in a speedy harvesting of these plots. With both our Syrah and our Viognier vines the phenolic and alcoholic maturity curves remained close and overall concentration was very high, creating a juice of excellent freshness and purity.
Château Cazal Viel
Harvest began on 16/08/23 and completed on 30/09/23
Whites and rosés
We started the harvest with the Chardonnay and then the grapes for our rosé wines. Thanks to upgrades made in 2020 at our grape reception area of the winery, the grapes arrive much faster than in previous years. This speed allows us to choose the date of the harvest when grapes are at optimum maturity and to harvest the grapes at the coolest period of the night (approx. 3:00 am). Viognier was harvested quickly at the end of August, as a few days of intense temperatures threatened to lower the freshness and acidity in the grapes. The aromatic profile and tension of the Chardonnay and Viognier show elegance and potential for great finesse, while the Syrah and Cinsault show classic varietal typicity with naturally high acidity and promise to produce very elegant rosés this year.
Since 2020, we have been harvesting our reds a few days earlier than in previous years, when the grapes have just reached their optimum phenolic ripeness, but still retain a natural acidity, further helped by night harvesting. This promotes elegant and complex wines, with lifted, fresh, red fruit aromas. This year, we carried out a gentle maceration with only a couple of light pump-overs, in order to optimise the fresh, fruit flavours and extract silky tannins.
Harvest began on 24/08/23 and completed on 15/09/23
Whites and rosés
Thanks to the altitude at Auzines and the rocky, limestone soil, we found the white grapes offered great freshness and tension, especially Chardonnay and our flagship grape variety Albarino. We vinify 2/3 of the crop on site and transport the balance of the grapes quickly to our winery at Cazal Viel during the night, eliminating the risk of spoilage from heat, sunlight and oxidation.
The aim is to have focused wines, with sensations of fresher red fruits and we are gentle with light pump-overs and maceration to ensure silky tannic structure in the finished wines. We already see that the musts are of a high quality, showing layers of flavour and deep concentration. There is beautiful potential for this vintage for Syrah, thanks to the even ripening season.
We would like to thank the vineyard and winery teams for their participation and involvement. We are very optimistic for a high quality, terroir expression of vintage 2023!
At work in the winery
Some members of our viticultural team