We are living a strange moment where the growing pandemic concerns cause cancellation of major events from sport competitions to conferences and concerts. The wine business is affected too.
First Vinitaly, the major wine-related event in Italy, has been rescheduled to June. The last one to fall, the news came in today, is the En Primeur week in Bordeaux. For those who haven’t heard about it, imagine this: all the major wine critics gather in Bordeaux to taste a preview of the last vintage, causing a lot of buzz in the media, and driving price changes as a consequence.
Due to the unfortunate circumstances, the event has been postponed and it is currently not yet clear when and how wines will be tasted. But don't despair. You’ll be able to get hints on the 2019 vintage even without the event. Saturnalia is here to help.
The Saturnalia concept started in 2016 with the aim to push a shift in the wine industry, taking advantage of the data to assess the quality of grapes and consequently of wine. It monitors vineyards and, consequently, wine production and its features by combining measures from space and from ground. It provides quality insights that were once only available to vineyard owners. We automatically collect, aggregate and process data to make grape status and performance indicators accessible when and where it matters, with the aim of providing accurate early wine quality predictions, months before any wine is tasted by the wine critics.
Based on our analysis of the previous vintages, we generated a wine score in hundreds for the principal appellations and for several producers in the Bordeaux area.
In general, 2019 looks like a very-good-to-excellent vintage. Data recorded from satellite and from ground show, in general, very similar patterns to the 2015 and 2016 vintages. 2019 has warmth and dry weather, without the extremes of 2015 and 2018, in some instances more similarities with 2016 in terms of vineyards response. Best performers in this vintage seem to be Saint-Julien, Pauillac and Pomerol. Let's dig a little deeper.
Total year rainfall for 2019 growing season (from Nov 2018 to Oct 2019) was well within the average, close to 2017. What is more interesting is the rainfall distribution throughout the year. Data show that 2019 was one of the driest summer seasons, even drier than 2018, whereas spring rain was similar to 2016 and 2018, suggesting a lighter year in terms of pathogens pressure in the vineyard. The total of Growing Degree Days describes the amount of heat available for the plant growth, showing that 2019 wasn't extreme in this sense, more similar to 2017 than warmer 2018 and above all 2015, and cooler 2016. The distribution of GDD shows that initial growth in 2019 was similar to 2017, followed by a slow-down in spring. Diurnal variation (bottom-right) is important to describe the difference in temperature between night and day, which is often considered important for the development of aromas and phenolic maturity. In this respect, 2019 shows a lower difference (i.e. smaller difference between night and day temperature), particularly after veraison and through the harvest.
Thanks to our technology, our focus can move from the entire area to single appellations and even single producers. As an example, you'll see the map of Pauillac with overlaid the classified distribution of the Saturnalia Vigour Index (correlated to a higher vigour). The SVI distribution shows how every vintage behaved in terms of our index. When we look at the distribution of SVI we notice that whilst 2016 and 2019 look similar in the amount to medium to high vigour areas, 2019 looks much more heterogeneous, with a curve that has lower median value and wider spread. This suggests that high quality is to be found in Pauillac in 2019, but buyers can also expect higher variations among growers.
Moving to the single Chateau, below an example of what we can extrapolate. The overall score is derived by comparing the recent vintage with previous vintages. Moreover, the behaviour of weather data is also taken into account.
The score for a selection of 25 producers across the main appellations will be published in the following weeks on our website. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest news.
Pauillac: Ch. Armailhac, Ch. Grand Puy Ducasse, Ch. Grand Puy Lacoste, Ch. Lafite Rothschild, Ch. Latour, Ch. Lynch Bages, Ch. Mouton Rothschild, Ch. Pichon Baron, Ch. Pichon Lalande
Pessac Leognan: Ch. Haut Brion
Pomerol: Ch. Clinet, Ch. Eglise Clinet, Ch. Evangile, Ch. Fleur Petrus, Ch. Lafleur, Ch. Petrus, Ch. Pin
Saint Emilion: Ch. Cheval Blanc
Saint Estephe: Ch. Montrose
St Julien: Ch Talbot
Margaux: Ch. Margaux, Ch. Palmer