At the end of September, it was 28° Celsius (82.4° F) every day in Bordeaux. The vintage looks BIG, and the excitement is growing every day!
Start at Du Tertre
We started the harvest on Monday, Sept. 28, at Château du Tertre without a cloud in the sky and with perfect conditions. In effect, we delayed the start of picking in order to profit from ideal weather and gain even more phenolic maturity (concentration of total polyphenols) and technological maturity (measured by the balance of sugars and acids).
Our team of 70 harvesters (of which 50 are pickers) arrived in good spirits knowing they were to harvest grapes of superlative quality in glorious sunshine. At 9:30 a.m., the first bunches arrived at the cellar, and a second team of 20 people performed a detailed sorting to remove any leaves and-above all-the small bits of stems left over after the destemming. Watch our video to see what's been going on in the winery:
The end of the day at Château du Tertre.
juice is already very colored, and the level of sugars are very impressive. Our
first analysis from the harvest gives us the following figures:
Potential alcohol of 14.1%
Total acidity of 3.8 g/l H2SO4
pH of 3.7
By Monday evening, we had already harvested around one-third of our Merlots, and the juice tastes great: high in sugar, with rich and long persistent fruit in the mouth. We were finishing the Merlots (30 percent) today, and we should benefit from exceptional weather conditions until at least the middle of next week.
The first Cabernets Francs (20 percent) will be harvested on Friday, followed by the Petit Verdot (3 percent) on Tuesday and the Cabernet Sauvignons (47 percent) in the middle of next week.
The Merlot harvest has finished at Château Giscours.
This morning was the coldest morning since we started the harvest: 7° C (45° F) at 7:30 a.m. We brought in some Merlots with a temperature of 12° C (54° F) and brought them down to 4° C (40° F) with solid carbon dioxide at -50° C. We will macerate them for around 6 days before we will start the fermentation. This will maximize the fresh aromatic fragrance of the fruit.
We tasted our first dry, young Merlots, and they are splendid, sexy, full and with a very deep color. The architectural structure will reveal itself over the coming weeks of maceration. We will follow this very closely until we believe the optimal balance has been found between fruit and tannins. Good wine is first of all a well-balanced wine, especially in Margaux where elegance, femininity and detail mean everything!
Today we finished our last Merlots (32 percent), and on Friday we will attack our Cabernet Francs (5 percent).
The Merlot on Haut-Bailly's gravelly soils looks excellent to us.
This week, we have been picking our best Merlots under sensational weather. We keep working only in the morning to avoid the heat of the afternoon: 28° C everyday! Colors, aromas, degrees are great. Nobody is in a hurry, and we plan to finish the Merlot quietly at the beginning of next week. The Cabernet Francs are enjoying these lovely sunny days, and the Cabernet Sauvignons will be sunbathing for another few weeks. The weather forecast looks very good until mid-October.
Golden Baby in Pomerol?
Last Friday, we had dinner in Pomerol with Jacques and Fiona Thienpont MW (owners of Le Pin) and Alexandre Thienpont (Vieux Château Certan).
Jacques told us that they picked their grapes from Tuesday, Sept. 22 to Thursday, Sept 24. Pomerol had a lot of rain the weekend before, but they harvested very healthy grapes that had not absorbed too much water, thanks to their well-drained terroir. We tasted the young juices with him, and we were surprised by the density and the length of this legendary wine! Fiona was saying, "It's a baby that is almost too perfect ... we are waiting to discover its character!" She also noted that the rain they had was "an intelligent rain."
Alexandre from VCC confirmed it: The rains came when he needed them. In this other great property of Pomerol, they started picking the young Merlots last week and planned to finish everything today. He said it is too early to predict the final quality of the vintage, but it looks very promising indeed!
The ripening slowed down in early September at Caiarossa.
As you may know, we also have a property in Tuscany called Caiarossa. I was there last week for a few days. The region also had a very dry summer, along with very hot days at the end of August. The harvest started with our very first Merlot on Aug. 28. This was a few days earlier than expected as the ripening happened faster after veraison.
We thought that might happen with all of our 8 different red varieties, but at the beginning of September, the climate cooled down a lot, and we have seen big differences between the temperatures during the daytime and at night. This has the effect of slowing down the maturity and promoting the synthesis of aromas into the berries.
This week it's time for picking the Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. The skins are now perfectly ripe, and they should provide excellent structure for our blend!
Karl Mark — Geneva, IL. — October 2, 2009 7:36pm ET
Alexander Van Beek — France — October 3, 2009 12:19pm ET
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