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Old World Harvest Report: Greatness Expected for Many Key Regions

The tightly-knit wine community just breathed a collective sigh of relief, as they finally take a well-earned rest having completed this year's harvest. A survey of harvest in Europe shows that top Napa and Sonoma producers won't be the only ones singing the praises of 2009. As previous reports have indicated, many of the Old World's top wine regions have much to celebrate, with a number of them quick to announce legends in the making.

Here's a brief update from some of our favorite regions:

Critics and producers alike can't seem to think up enough superlatives for the 2009 Bordeaux harvest. Just four short years after the historic '05 campaign, Bordeaux has another "vintage of the century" on its hands. Don't expect these predictions of greatness to stop until these wines are priced en primeur and sold off for what will likely be another round of record pricing. This is a can't miss vintage for both the Left and Right Banks; now it's up to the winemakers to fashion the style of wine they see fit.

Excitement continues unabated for the Cote d'Or as the Burgundy harvest has been in for some time. Always a vital barometer of the vintage's prospects, the Hospice de Beaune's fruit appears to be spectacular. "The world has a remarkable 2009 Burgundy crop to invest in that matches those of 1989, 1990, 1999, and 2005," declares Anthony Hanson, senior wine consultant for Christie's, the auction house that now facilitates the sale of these wines. Given the numerous prestigious holdings of the Hospices sprinkled throughout the region, this is great early news for Burgundy.

With their eyes trained on the long-awaited retail release of their 2007 southern appellation wines, Rhone producers have given less focus to promoting the 2009 harvest. With that said all signs point to another stellar vintage for both the northern and southern AOCs. While this vintage may not capture the brute strength of 2005 or 2007, its elegance and complexity will be well received – not unlike the acclaim showered on the more delicate 2004 and 2006 vintages.

Germany also appears to be keeping its beautiful string of vintages intact with a harvest that looks as promising as the recent breathtaking 2007er. As many Riesling lovers gleefully recall, '07 had extremely early flowering and a perfect, long harvest that resulted in an unheard of 150-day growing season. 2009 has seen strikingly similar conditions, sparking expectations for another brilliant year for Riesling at every QmP level.

In similar fashion to the Rhone, Tuscany is basking in the glory of its recent 2006 releases, so this most recent harvest has flown somewhat under the radar. The growing season was marked by early, wet weather which has a tendency to swell the native Sangiovese and reduce concentration. Recent months, particularly August and September, witnessed a return of hot weather and with it better prospects for the vintage. Those producers who worked diligently throughout the summer will be rewarded for their efforts.