The excitement here in Bordeaux is growing day by day as the Cabernets being brought in also show tremendous potential, like the Merlots, thereby confirming the quality of the vintage.
Denis Dubourdieu, the owner of Château Doisy-Daëne in Barsac, confirms that the dry white wines are very promising and that the sweet whites started off with very intense noble rot and should promise something very special in Sauternes.
Christian Seely-who runs the AXA properties of Pichon-Longueville-Baron, Petit-Village, Pibran and Suduiraut-also shared his enthusiasm with us. "At Château Suduiraut, the first [passes] show a magical potential," he said.
More and more merchants from England, the United States and other countries are popping by to see for themselves what the 2009 vintage will bring ... .
Pickers bring in Cabernet from young vines during very warm weather.
Château Haut-Bailly begins to harvest the Cabernet Sauvignon
The weather continues to be amazing: Record fall temperatures beat down on Bordeaux! It was 30°C (86°F) on Oct. 6 ... just like in 1929! On Tuesday, we were able to take dinner outside until late in the evening.
At Château Haut-Bailly, we finished our Merlots on Monday, Oct. 5, at noon. We started our young Cabernets Sauvignons on Wednesday, Oct. 7, As the weather forecast looks great, there is no hurry, and we plan to harvest quietly until at least the middle of next week. In between, we'll pick some of the Cabernets Franc.
We tasted the first wines from the Merlots we harvested on Sept. 15 and 17 after fermentation, and we were impressed by the fruitiness and the freshness in such concentrated wines. In a few days, we should be able to tell you much more about the Merlots, as most of them will have finished their fermentation.
In our appellation, Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion are always the first ones to finish because of the influence their location has on the maturity of the grapes. They started the whites on Aug. 31, and Jean-Philippe Delmas told us that they finished picking Tuesday. He seemed particularly happy about the result of both grape varieties: Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. He also said, "It is too early to talk about something mythical, but we have never seen such quantities of sugar and richness of fruit."
Great Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot at Château du Tertre
At Château du Tertre, we finished the Merlot harvest on Thursday, Oct. 1, and by Wednesday, Oct. 7, the first vats were approaching the end of the alcoholic fermentation. The tastings of these first lots show us the richness of the vintage in terms of color, as well as the power and depth of its fruit. The mouth is rich and very long, with ripe, well-integrated tannins. Very promising!
On Monday, Oct. 5, we began the harvest of the Cabernets. The first parcels picked on Monday morning were Cabernet Franc, situated on the sandiest soils of the property; these form the basis of the second wine. The alcoholic potential of these Cabernets is near 13 degrees, and the fruit is both intense and well ripened.
We then moved on to the young Cabernet Sauvignon vines. The grapes from two plots situated on deep gravel soils were isolated in small vats, the objective being to integrate them into the grand vin, such is the quality of their structural balance: dense, deep and with imposing, yet silky tannins.
Monday finished with the harvesting of the Petit Verdot, which we expect this year to have an exceptional level of maturity. The alcoholic potential is 14 degrees. Once it was put into our small concrete vats, the wine's color revealed itself as very intense; the tasting left a very fruity and particularly long finish. We could without doubt integrate this lot in the final blend of the grand vin; it promises to bring fullness with beautifully balanced tannins and a finish full of fruit.
Monday was equally notable for our tasting of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes with Eric Boissenot, our consultant enologist. Our findings were unanimous: We decided that it was time to harvest all of the Cabernets. Extended ripening has allowed rich tannins to develop, with the seeds releasing hazelnut flavors, and the juice being sugary and very fruity.
We brought in our Cabernet Franc for the grand vin last Wednesday, and followed with our best Cabernet Sauvignons at the end of the week. The harvest will finish with the latest ripening parcels at the beginning of this week, Oct. 13.
We benefit from having a team of conscientious harvesters, equally adept at work in the vines or the cellar, where the sorting of individual grapes is perfectly executed. The atmosphere is jovial, in fact nearly familial, thanks to the number of seasonal workers who come back year after year. The days are long and hard (the afternoons, above all), especially with the constantly hot weather that has accompanied every day of the harvest.
Château Giscours harvested Cabernet Sauvignon from older parcels.
Picking the heart of Château Giscours
We finished the parcels of Cabernet Franc on Saturday, Oct. 3, with an average of 13 degrees of alcohol and 3.5 g/l of acidity.
On Tuesday, Oct. 6, we began harvesting the "ancient" parcels of Giscours, made up of the older Cabernet Sauvignons from 1972, notably the parcel of vines named "The Fourteen Thousand." This parcel consists of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot, thus we expect a great aromatic complexity, thanks to the slightly overripe Merlots, the optimal maturity of the Cabernet Sauvignons and the equally excellent, yet more sparsely planted Petit Verdot.
The "ancient" parcels were harvested in exceptional conditions with temperatures over 30°C during the afternoons. The grapes are chilled prior to fermentation to about 4°C (39°F) to preserve their aromatic complexity and excellent balance and freshness (13.4 degrees alcohol and 3.5 g/l of acidity).
These exceptional climatic conditions: alternating between fresh autumnal mornings and mid-summer temperatures in the afternoons, confirm this vintage as one of outstanding quality. To guard this quality we have taken care to harvest each parcel at the point of perfect maturity, constantly bearing in mind the unusual temperatures.
It's important to keep the harvest workers well fed and happy.
Lunch in France is the most important meal of the day. It's a special moment where all the harvesters, winery and office workers come together to enjoy a homemade meal. "Maité," who is in charge of the preparation of the nearly 300 meals a day, is doing a great job. The harvesters play a very important role in the success of a vintage-that's why it's very important that they stay motivated and loyal to your château during the whole picking period!
Sometimes we will not harvest for a few days to wait for the grapes to reach a better maturity level, so the workers could very well leave and go to a property where they are harvesting. We are very lucky to have established a long-term relationship with most of our pickers and they are doing a fantastic job!
Johnny Espinoza Esquivel — Wine World — October 12, 2009 6:07pm ET
Veronique Sanders — Bordeaux, France — October 15, 2009 3:29am ET
Simon O'neill — France — October 15, 2009 4:19am ET
Veronique Sanders — Bordeaux, France — October 15, 2009 3:43pm ET
Jasjit Singh Assi — Mumbai, India — October 17, 2009 2:12pm ET
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