Not a single red grape harvested in September at Bauduc. Not one – that must be the first time ever. Then again, there are merlot grapes on the vine up the road at Pétrus in Pomerol, so it’s not that unusual in the circumstances. Our merlot usually ripens a week or so after the plateau of Pomerol. This gives me a quick insight – pop up to Pomerol and whatever the top guys are doing, mark next week’s diary accordingly.
This year, we’ve decided to make a cracking rosé. Not that we have deliberately set out to make un vin rosé ordinaire in the past, it’s just that we haven’t focused enough on the style and that’s been reflected in the results.
You’ll often find that a Bordeaux rosé is a by-product of making red wine. Once you’ve put your red grapes in the tank, you run off some juice the following day to concentrate what’s left (i.e. less juice to macerate and ferment with the skins). You then cool ferment the ‘left over’ pale juice just as you would a white wine – without the skins. Bingo: rosé.
The problem with this method – called saignée, or blooded – is that you are using juice from grapes that you’re making into red wine. The grapes need to be fully ripe for red but for rosé, we need a bit less alcohol and a bit more acidity – we want juice from grapes that aren’t too ripe.
So this year, we’re making a rosé from specially selected blocks – merlot, cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignons. The first to ripen is the merlot so it was a 4am start again yesterday to bring it in as fresh and cold as possible. Just like the white we want to avoid oxidation. And then we pressed the grapes straight away to avoid tannins (pressurage direct), which we hope will bring great results. We’ll have to wait and see.