Across France much of the landscape and many small villages have stirred into frenetic activity with the start of the annual grape harvest – some areas have been busy for weeks already, whilst others may not start until later in September or even later if they are very high or concentrating on late-harvest (vendanges tardives) or botrytised wines.
Over in Alsace, the Hugel family are producing a daily video diary of the 2009 harvest, so that you can see the process and get some insight into the 2009 vintage potential. Hugel is one of the top names in Alsace and produce some really excellent wines. So far everything is looking very promising with ideal conditions for autumn weather and the condition of the vines – see http://blog.hugel.com/en/harvest/
Some of Hugel’s range can be found in the UK at Adnams and other independent wine merchants.
Alsace on the eastern border with Germany is a surprising region – sheltered from oceanic influence by the Vosges mountains, the Alsace wine region enjoys some of the lowest rainfall in France (just 400-500mm or 16-20 inches per year) and is blessed with a semi-continental climate—sunny, warm and dry. The key varietals – Gewurztraminer and Riesling produced here can be extraordinarily intense and elegant, and despite the Germanic shape of the bottle (and often the labels too) the wines are dry (unless they are late harvest versions) – for more info on Alsace wines see www.vinsalsace.com/