Millirandage will be a key word in understanding the 2019 vintage as it is present in nearly every French wine region this year.
It translates into English as “poor grape set” or “shot berries”.
It is due to the weather conditions during flowering (too hot, too cold, too much wind, rain….). Anything less than perfect…. and the delicate vine flower aborts and falls off leaving an empty space on the future grape bunch in a process referred to coulure.
Unfortunately, the first consequence is lower yields. However with these looser bunches, there is more air circulation within the bunch and less chance of the propagation of rot if there is rain or humidity.
Millirandage makes for berries on a same bunch that differ in size and in maturity levels. This means that some berries will ripen earlier than others even though they are on the same bunch. While this can make it challenging to establish a harvest date, the diversity present in each bunch can bring exceptional complexity to the wines.
Finally, Millirandage alters the ratio of skin to juice (smaller berries = less juice) and should not be underestimated during vinification.
I’m told that the last great vintage in which Millirandage played a key role was 1978.
In some of these photos, you can see that the veraison * has started but is in a different phase depending on the size of the berry.
* (the changing of green to red for the red grape varieties)
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