I would like to answer Daniel, Tom and others who have questioned me about the challenges encountered by Cos-d’Estournel with the 2006 vintage.
The growing season was marked by unusual weather conditions in which the hand of man in the vineyards was more than ever fundamental. Indeed, the weather conditions were very challenging through the spring and summer.
Once the very last leaves fell from the vines, our team could start their job of pruning. This took place from mid-November 2005 to March 3, 2006. The purpose of pruning is to allow the regeneration of the sap and the branches. It is also meant to extend the life of the vine by preventing it from developing too many branches and bunches. In order to do so, our team cuts all branches except two per vine. This specific type of pruning is called the Médoc style, similar to the Guyot double. Only three eyes, or buds, were kept on each branch.
After a little rest of four weeks, the vines started waking up in mid-April with the arrival of the first leaves. Though March was cold and rainy, the more clement weather in April, May and June enabled the vines to make up for their delay. I noticed complete flowering on June 10. By the end of June, and once pollinated, these flowers had given birth to small berries.
One of the notable features of this vintage was the early arrival of intensely hot weather during the first fortnight in June. Between June 8 and June 15, maximum temperatures reached or even exceeded 86 degrees F. This possibly explains the overall uniformity of flowering and, perhaps, an unusual amount of coulure, a problem where flowers fail to turn into berries, thus reducing the yield.
Nevertheless, a severe green harvest was necessary in order to control the vines' vigor and the concentration of sugar in the fruit. We thinned the fruit twice, in July and August, in order to allow the bunches to benefit from the sunbeams, so essential to their maturity.
A preharvesting selection of parcels was made possible thanks to the use of GPS in our vineyards. This enabled us to determine with a remarkable precision the less productive of our blocks, and also to discover areas of very good quality among the parcels of vines we had been considering less satisfactory. These areas were then harvested and vinified separately.
Harvest began on Sept. 21 and finished on Oct. 6. We did have rain at the end. Nothing to worry about, since harvest rain used to be very common in Bordeaux before global warming started to show up. Nevertheless we had to maneuver and adapt our extraction and maceration before the alcoholic fermentation.
I anticipate that we will keep this wine in barrel for a longer period than the 2005, as the tannins need to be polished. We have made a very severe selection: only 55 percent of the production will go into the grand vin of Cos. Because of low yield in the vineyards, in the end we will produce the same volume of Cos as in the 2003 vintage, which was as well not lacking concentration and quality.
At this point, the 2006 vintage reminds me of the 1986 or possibly the 1996. It is very Cabernet-like, with muscular tannins and very good acidity. The wine has an extraordinary length and structure. It will need at least 10 years in the bottle. This vintage could be seen as going back to the future; it reminds me of the old style of Bordeaux from the '80s, but with modernity and big structure.
Please keep in mind that a Bordelais will tell you that he produces the vintage of the century every year (2005 being the vintage of the millennium). But I am sure that 2006 is a vintage for the very long run.
Brad Kanipe — Atlanta — March 29, 2007 6:25pm ET
Karl Mark — Geneva, IL. — March 29, 2007 8:44pm ET
Domaines Reybier Sa — france — March 30, 2007 6:21am ET
Guus Hateboer — Netherlands — March 30, 2007 7:14am ET
Domaines Reybier Sa — france — March 30, 2007 4:21pm ET
Andre Loy — Singapore — April 2, 2007 1:41am ET
David R Aldano — Phoenix, Arizona, USA — April 3, 2007 4:51pm ET
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