Veraison - What does it mean?
Veraison is derived from the French word "Véraison" which describes the event in the lifecycle of a vine when the grapes turn from a vibrant green to a translucent yellow for the white grape varieties and to a ruby red for the red grape varieties. Each individual grape will turn colour at its own pace which creates often a rainbow of colours on the vine as the full spectrum of colours is visible on each bunch. This phase is vital in the ripening of the grapes and the timeline in which it occurs. According to winemakers a grape fully ripens 40 days after the first signs of the veraison.
This year in the south of France, the veraison is unusually early, most notably due the exceptionally hot spring we had where the sun and temperatures where that of a hot july summer. The budding process happened a lot earlier than anticipated and consequently we will probably have a harvest that starts for the earliest of grape varieties around the 10th August, which is about 15 days earlier than last year when the first harvests were for the Chardonnay starting around the 28th August.
This speedy ripening isn't the best news for the winemakers in the southern regions as a fast ripening normally means that the grapes will have less time to reach the preferred ripeness and then run the risk of creating wines which are less complex and of inferior quality.
Grenache grapes turning to a blueish purple
So what now?
Well to be honest only time will tell what quality is produced from the grapes of this year's vintage.
In the meantime the usual summer rain showers that often take place in the transition period between July and August are greatly sought after and winemakers hope that they will be able to quench the thirst of the vines that now have become more and more accustomed to a lack of rain in recent years.
What about those of you who live in other wine regions around the world?
What's the forecast for this upcoming harvest?