Your tannins are burning! Armageddon Wine Harvest 2015

by Greg Gottsacker

The results are in on the 2015 wine harvest...and it was a scorcher of a season!  

Virtually every wine circulation is absolutely gushing about the 2015 vintage.

And you were “wining” about the heat in mid July!

Yes it’s that time of year when we start hearing about “tannin management”, “hydric stress levels” and a wine drinker’s most feared incubus-the term “low yield”.  

Science told me so

I am not a global warming scientist, so I’ll have to give you some sources and statistics for you to believe me….but 2015 will be the hottest year ever, ever.

It’s only October and the year isn’t over yet but the first 9 months were off the charts and this extreme heat directly impacts our grape growing friends.  

It was me

While golfing with a vintner in July’s 38 C scorcher in Burgundy, he personified his Gamay grapes from Beaujolais.

“You can’t imagine what these plants go through in this heat.  We can’t imagine as humans what it’s like.  On a hot day like this we might suffer for 2-3 hours and then we just go in the shade and get a cold drink.  These vines are struggling every day and at any moment could just collapse and die.”

That’s why it is so important for these vintners to keep an eye on their grapes in late July and August.  

Not picking at the right time would be the equivalent of walking away from your steak on a hot grill and forgetting about it.  Burnt and nobody will want to eat that piece of crap. Toss it.  

Such are the daily fears of a wine grower’s reputation and livelihood.  Except you can’t control the grill’s heat or use your water spray bottle.   These guys check on their steak all the time.

Early Harvest

There are a lot of misconceptions about an early harvest and the heat wave.  A lot people think that harvest must come early because of such intense heat...well that’s not exactly how it works.

Wine growers usually know well in advance as to how the season will unfold.  Spring can start a little early, and with early bud break on the vines, we can already foresee an early harvest date.  

Low Yield. Don't worry-less is good. 

Although yields might be low in some appellations, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. 

Despite record high temperatures and wine makers on vigilant “wilt” duty during August, the pH and sugar levels look good.  

A lower volume production yield this year means that the grapes are smaller, but the fruit is intense and concentrated, and boozy too.

In Germany, some growers are calling it a “bulldozer of a vintage”.  What an appropriate metaphor for a German grape harvest.

Can you imagine a French winegrower allowing his vintage to be compared to a heavy piece of machinery? The bulldozer metaphor seems appropriately Teutonic in its application.  

Of course what they are referring to is the high alcohol content in the Riesling grapes due to the summer heat, with some weighing in over 16%!  

Stock up on 2015

Whether it is Barossa Valley, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Napa, Rioja, or the Swartland...2015 is unfolding as a high quality harvest year, and the European vintages are being compared to the 2003 and 2005 vintages.  

So while you were kvetching in July about your lower back sweat and busted AC, think about that Gamay in Beaujolais that stuck it through all the way to August...for you...for your pleasure.  

Here are some really great articles that summarize this year's harvest in specific regions.

 Enter “Harvest” for 15% off on all Helicium® Glass through the end of October!  Go on.  

Just go to and enter “Harvest” at check-out to get your 15% discount through October 31st!  

Go on.  Do it for the Gamay.


Greg Gottsacker

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Gregory Gottsacker
Gregory Gottsacker