2011 was a roller-coaster for growers. A very cold winter, summer temperatures in April, severe localised frosts in May, a hailstorm of epic proportions in August, rain, and then a magnificent Indian summer: everyone was on the edge of their seats. 2011 turned out to be one of the warmest and driest years on record: the vines profited from the early budbreak and long autumn to give wines that are pure, fine and elegant, with very appealing seductive fruit. It is yet another excellent vintage.
The growing season began with a very cold January and February, and a mild March. Temperatures shot up in April, causing explosive growth in the vineyard, which led to budbreak in mid-April, three weeks earlier than average. Flowering quickly followed, and it looked like a very early harvest was on the cards. But from mid-July until the end of August the weather cooled and sunshine was interspersed with rain showers. This slowed ripening, and provided much-needed moisture for the vineyards.
Localised frosts provided even more drama: the Mosel escaped them, but there was considerable damage elsewhere. The Mosel had its own worries. On 26th August a hailstorm struck the heart of the Middle Mosel. Tennis-ball sized hail stones severely damaged cars and houses, and some vineyards. In a few places the losses were up to 50%.
The most important factor for the vintage was a long Indian summer. Botrytis had begun to spread, but when the weather turned sunny it mostly dried up and stopped: affected grapes shrivelled, as the rot had pierced holes in the skins, but they retained very clean flavours. The warm dry weather meant that growers could pick at their leisure, and wait for perfect ripeness between each pass through their vineyards.
The wines are very forward, with the pure yellow stone fruit of 1997 and 2007, and a beautifully defined minerality. They are delicious across the range, and a particular success in the dry category. What little botrytis there is comes across very seductively. The acidity is lower than in 2010, so they will be approachable when young, but the best wines will, as ever, keep extremely well.
The vintage has had good yields at the lower end of the scale, but is even smaller than 2010 at the top end. As usual, we give priority for the most sought-after wines to customers who have supported us in the past and across the board.
Prices have remained very stable, and with the fall of the euro have in some cases gone down in real terms. We have passed on these benefits where we can.
Some dry wines and some very sweet ones will be released later in the year.