While rising temperatures favored an early, homogeneous budbreak, nature finally gave in to the dreaded capriciousness of late spring frosts in the region. Once again, the nearby estuary was our best ally against the recurrence of these episodes. The tone was set for our teams, who were going to have to deal with “a challenging vintage, under permanent pressure”, according to Bruno Clenet, the vineyard manager.
Keeping our spirits lifted! After holding their breath against the risk of frost, our teams were able to protect the vines from steady rainfall. The cover crops, planted last autumn between the rows, acted as a perfect buffer, guaranteeing the soil the stability it needed to enter the vineyard.
In this context of a wet vintage, the early pruning and leaf removal, carried out from mid-June, was decisive. We adapted the techniques to each grape variety, to optimize the aeration of the bunches.
Tension rose up a notch as the harvest approached. Which saint should we praise in the face of unpredictable weather conditions, when too few planes were flying overhead? As the maturity gap started to widen between the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, we decided not to panic, but rather to follow our intuition.
A collaborative approach led us to take the very risky decision to wait to harvest. The very last tastings of the grapes confirmed their beautiful ripeness and launched the harvest on September 28th, just as a radiant sun appeared over Saint-Julien.
This year was also the opportunity to go further in our constant quest for quality. At picking, bio-protection was employed early by spraying full crates of grapes in the vineyard before storing them in cold rooms in order to optimize the sorting that would follow.
A vintage full of paradoxes enters the vat room: small volumes, but with big berries on our plots of Merlot. “Despite the low yields, we sacrificed juice for quality,” recalls Isabelle Davin. For our Enologist, as for Cellar Master Didier Thomann, each vintage is a pursuit of excellence, all the more so when it invites the teams to transcend their ‘savoir-faire’.
Because of the small quantities, we chose to go even further in the intra parcel vinifications. The promising aromas of the musts gave reason to our optimism. They showed a remarkable freshness of fruit that we were able to preserve thanks to very gentle extractions.
The Chateau’s teams savor their reward with pride as they welcome this victorious 5 vintage. Less exuberant and with greater tension on the palate than the 2018-2019-2020 trilogy, it echoes the 2012 vintage in its classic style and easy drinking approach.
What a brilliant aromatic and flavorful freshness that recaptures the vibrancy and style of classic Bordeaux vintages!