Wine Words & Video Tape

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Bordeaux 2014: Sunny September

Written by JW. Posted in Bordeaux

1966273_716959961691806_3746072829133574301_oWith the first reds finishing ferment but still much picking to do [see harvest at Chateau Quintus left] there are promising signs that Bordeaux 2014 will be a potentially good red Bordeaux vintage. Excitement has risen considerably following a near perfect month in September, one of the sunniest and driest on record. Some are comparing the conditions in the past month to 1961, 1929 and even 1921. Hold your breath though. While the weather has largely held in the first week of October, allowing many properties to finish harvesting their Merlot [the harvest is already over for several leading Pomerol properties] more variable weather is on the way. This week is likely to be critical for the Cabernets and perhaps the overall quality of the vintage on the left bank especially.

While the primeurs tastings are a long way off, Bordeaux 2014 would already appear to be a favourable year for Merlot, though the final verdict will have to wait until all the grapes are in. This is good news in a region in which Merlot is the preponderant variety. It will be also be welcomed by the many producers who suffered in 2013, where the variety, much more susceptible to rot, faired especially badly in the vintage humidity, one of the major challenges [of the many] in that very difficult harvest. 2014, it would seem, is a very different beast. It appears to be exactly what Christian Moueix said he was hoping for earlier in the year – a plentiful crop, promising good quality wine. Moueix has already described 2014, on the right bank at least, ‘a good to very good vintage.’

September certainly was a marvellous month in Bordeaux weather wise. At Clarence Dillon’s recently minted [2011] St Emilion property Château Quintus, they have described the September weather as ‘exceptional’ with ‘record’ sunshine levels. It allowed for the harvest of ripe Merlot which began at the very end of September. The Merlot harvest in Pomerol was also in full swing by the last week of September with Château La Conseillante [photo below] reporting the harvest of healthy and promising fruit. For La Conseillante, Château Pétrus and others, the 2014 harvest is already over.


In Pessac-Léognan, Château Smith Haut Lafitte, pleased with the quality of the fruit for their white wine harvest, announced the harvest of ‘caviar-like’ Merlot at the beginning of October. Domaine de Chevalier, which has produced phenomenally consistent sets of whites and reds for the past half dozen vintages, had picked all its Merlot by October 6 and are just beginning the Cabernets. At Château Haut-Bailly they have also finished the Merlot and have Cabernet Sauvignon in their sights.

In the Médoc, Vignobles Dourthe reported the harvest of Merlot at Château Belgrave and Chateau Reysson in the last week of September. Head winemaker Frédéric Bonnaffous explained that the slightly drier conditions in the region had meant that their Merlot parcels there had achieved a greater degree of ripeness earlier than their properties on the right bank. “The Merlot is showing well-balanced sugar/acidity levels and good concentration of colour and tannins,” Bonnaffous reported. “Aromas are looking really good.”

10703635_10152750220149446_3785199186766516525_nMerlot picked at Chateau Palmer

The Merlot harvest was also well underway by the end of September in St Estèphe, Pauillac, St Julien and Margaux. Château Latour began the harvest of Cabernet Sauvignon on October 6. It is this variety that holds the key to the eventual quality here on the Haut-Médoc and also down in Pessac-Léognan. The hope must be that there is not too much rain in the coming days. Many proprietors then will enter this final phase of the harvest with fingers firmly crossed for drying winds and returning sunshine. For a detailed report on the harvest conditions in September do read Gavin Quinney’s excellent report here, published late last month on Liv-Ex blog site.

Photos courtesy and copyright of Château Quintus, Château La Conseillante and Château Palmer.

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