‘Bordeaux 2013- Harvest Outlook’

Posted by Helen Tate on 30 September 2013

‘Bordeaux 2013- Harvest Outlook’

Chateau d'Yquem and Cos d'Estournel are reporting the prospect of a good quality 2013 harvest for Bordeaux's dry white wines and Sauternes, providing that the sun continues to shine.
Chateau Guiraud began picking its first Sauvignon Blanc for dry white on 19 September, while grapes for Y d’Yquem started coming in this week.

The situation down in Pessac Léognan seems similar, from Domaine de Chevalier to La Tour Martillac. In the Médoc, the first Sauvignons for Cos d’Estournel Blanc also came in this week. Potential alcohol levels are currently around 12.5-13%.

‘On the whole, the dry white harvest is looking good, with high aromatics and clean ripe fruit,’ said Pascal Chattonet, owner of Chateau La Sergue in Lalande-de-Pomerol and consultant at many properties across the region, including Cos d’Estournel and Chateau d’Issan.

‘Most Sauvignon Blanc will be finished by next week, but Sémillon is still not ripe, with a potential alcohol of between 10.5 and 11%, and needs an extended period of dry sunny weather,’ he told decanter.com.

‘With the recent sunshine, our Sémillons have added 1% of potential alcohol in the past 36 hours alone,’ said Aymeric de Gironde, who is overseeing his first harvest as director of Cos d’Estournel. ‘We’re feeling confident about the quality, and will begin picking them by the end of the weekend.’

In Sauternes, the outlook for the onset of noble rot looks promising,  also increasing expectations of a good quality harvest, but again the Sémillon needs to ripen more fully before noble rot sets in. ‘The ideal time for concentration to begin is when there is at least 12% potential alcohol,’ said Xavier Planty, of Chateau Guiraud.
Winemakers have stated this week that chaptalisation may be used for some of the white grapes, particularly Sémillon.

Gavin Quinney, owner of Château Bauduc and Olivier Bernard, president of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux, spoke to The Drinks Business, explaining that although the harvest for whites has begun, “the reds are some way off. Personally I think we might just make rosé – depending on the weather.”This, he stressed, was just the view from his own property but he added that if the tannins weren’t right and the weather turned then many estates would, “have to pick earlier than they’d like” but also that if the weather holds then there was more hope.
“It’s still all to play for,” he said adding that the harvest was now, “a gamble between time, ripeness and rot.”

Hail in the Entre Deux Mers has been severe, and a cold spring affected the Merlot (Bernard said it was like 1984 for the variety), Quinney stated that whilst yield is down quality is up.
“It’s definitely small but it is variable,” he reported. “The Semillon and Cabernet Franc around Bordeaux look great.”

For Bernard, the essential change will be next week’s new Moon which will, he hoped, herald a cold but dry October – if the forecasts were correct.

Echoing Quinney he told db: “If the weather changes next week we’ll win. We’ll make it.”

He added that he expected Cabernet to be the “grape variety of the vintage” but said that harvesting was unlikely to begin until 20 October – another reason for the weather needing to hold.
He also stated that the whites are looking promising: “Sauternes could make a great vintage,” as the weather at the moment was good for botrytis – today it was 18° centigrade and it will rise to 32°C this afternoon but the nights are warm too.

In constant to this is the adverse effect on the Merlot, where some producers were being forced to pick to prevent the rot spreading. Three times in the last 10 years, including 2008 and 2010 the harvest has had to wait for 20 October.

“We have harvested this late before, we know how to do it,” said Bernard.

Source: www.decanter.com & www.thedrinksbusiness.com

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