Climatical conditions of the vintage
Winter was at first very mild, virtually without any frost. Our camellias showed their first flowers as soon as mid-January! Some of the young vines, those in protected areas, kept their leaves almost all winter. Up until February 13th, it was cold with temperatures as low as –9°C and with a dry NE wind that increased the chill factor. The snow that fell on February 2nd blanketed the ground for a good 10 days. But temperatures were back to normal by the end of the month and bud-break occurred between March 23rd – 25th for the Merlot, approximately ten days sooner than in 2010.
Winter, like March, was dry, but then a consistent rain fell from April 4th onward. During 20 days of rain, April received more than twice its normal rainfall. It was also cold, with an average temperature 2°C below the 30-year average.
May had irregular weather, alternating between showers and sunny periods. Temperatures were also uneven. It was 26°C on May 9th and more than 30°C on the 10th. Bloom occurred from May 25th onward, and mid-bloom of the Merlots, noted on June 6th, led us to think the harvest would start at the very beginning of October.
June saw uneven evolution of the clusters, with about a 15-day difference between early and late developing clusters. True summer weather finally arrived around mid-July, coinciding with the appearance of the first pink grapes. Hot days appeared at the end of the month and continued throughout the first fortnight of August.
Mid-véraison came around August 10th.
Starting August 30th, the weather was ideal, dry and sunny with daytime temperatures under 30°C and nighttime temperatures between 13--18°C, cooled by a north wind.
September 9th brought the first foggy morning, calling to mind our typical harvest weather.
Since mid-July, summer had been very dry, and so was the first half of September, with normal temperatures. After a short rainy period where around 50 mm of rain fell at the end of September (24th – 26th), favorable weather returned.
Picking, originally planned to begin October 1st, was delayed until the 8th because, even though technically the Merlots were ripe (more than 13° expected alcohol with total acidity between 2,9 – 3,3 g/L), neither the aromas nor the tannins were deemed fully ripe, and the pips were still bitter and astringent.
The weather remained fine up to October 6th, after which it turned variable, mild and rainy. The ripening process was accelerated in such a way that we had to stop picking the Merlot in order to bring in the Petit Verdot. We then harvested nonstop, ending in the morning on October 22nd.
During the middle two weeks of October, 111 mm of rain fell, bringing the total to 184 mm since the véraison. Great terroirs, those that drain well but which also do not let the plants suffer too much during deep summer drought, once again allowed the development of healthy, ripe grapes, which is the sine qua non for producing great wines.
The sunny weather returned on Tuesday October 23rd, as if to make us regret having finished our harvest so early !
Right from the start, the Merlots are very supple, with round fatty beginnings, and very good balance. The Cabernets, while quite aromatic and with very good acidity, show a more austere beginning but immense body and a long finish. The Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot are particularly well made, ample, aromatic, intense and well-balanced.
The resulting wines are richer than in previous years, and the very ripe tannins are especially silky.