The 2021 Vintage in Alsace
Photo credit Tom D Morgan
A Renaissance of Wonder
January 2021: is dressed in white. Tenderly the snow soothes the sadness of the world. It adorns the bare shoulders of trees with a coat of ermine. It covers nature with a thick immaculate down where one wants to curl up. How sweet is this air filled with the laughter of children!
End of March: the vine weeps softly and sprays its tears along the shoots. The weather is cold until the 25th of March and then suddenly warms up. An air of birth hovers over the vineyard with the expected release of the first buds.
7 - 12 April: over the past few days, countless fires have lit up the vineyards of France, plunged into the night. The breath of men tried to warm the frail buds and the young leaves from the ravages of frost and a cloudless dawn. My thoughts and heart are with all my winegrower friends who were victims of this month of April with no qualms.
13 and 14 April: On the edge..... A small zero degree. Tiny but full of life and hope.
May 2021: The vine tiptoes its way through the cool mornings, the drops of water and the gales of wind. Its restraint responds to the gloomy mood of this spring.
Mid-June: The vine is in full bloom. It grows frantically. Like a teenager. Within a few days, it reaches its adult size. It explodes! It overflows! We try to keep up with its frenetic pace. The first spots of mildew appear.
June 21, 2021: Trying to guess the right time to treat and protect the plant through ever-changing weather. To invoke your luck and go for it, only to accept defeat a few hours later in the face of a 26ml... Sometimes it's better to do nothing.
So much rain! One should be able to stock up on water for the dry days.
28 June: a wave of mildew in the land that turns us upside down and keeps our heads underwater. Leaves and bunches are contaminated. Asphyxiated! So much anger and helplessness in the face of this rain that never stops!!
Tuesday 13 July: 50 ml. The sky keeps crying as if it were carrying too much sorrow!
August: Despite a slight lull, mildew continues its massive destruction. Nothing seems to be able to stop it. My hope is shrinking, just like the berries that wither before disappearing. In some areas, the vines have definitely given up. There will be no harvest.
September: Uncertainty of the days. The harvest is being prepared with a heavy heart and a stomach ache.. They start on Monday 20th September with the Pinot. The sun finally comes out. Its rays warm the bodies and give the grapes a golden colour. Cool nights preserve acidity.
Hope hangs on, but its last glimmers quickly fade. If the grapes are beautiful, the quantities are so derisory. I walk through the tumult of the days with a worn smile and tears on the verge of collapsing.
4 October: Rainy day. It falls, light and thin, throughout the day. Our Riesling grapes take on some roundness. A beautiful botrytis settles on the grapes. A few more days of idleness in the sun, sculpting their flesh and chiselling their acidity, and they will join their rare companions in the cellar.
The harvest ends on October 18th with the Riesling of the Grand Cru Hengst. The light shines with a calm glow on the still green leaves. At the end of these months, a complex mixture of helplessness, joy, deep sadness and hope despite everything, I make mine these verses of the American poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who died in February this year:
"And I am awaiting perpetually and forever a renaissance of wonder."
Céline Meyer of Domaine Josmeyer