The Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon for the dry whites are mostly in – we finished our Sémillon yesterday – and some estates on the Right Bank, in Pomerol and St-Emilion, have picked Merlot from young vines in the last week (such as Château Canon in St-Emilion, below right). The Merlot harvest started in earnest this week in the Médoc. Hardly a grape had been picked there until now, and they’ll start attacking the Cabernet Sauvignon from next week onwards. If you have the chance to see the harvest in action, on both Banks, sometime over the next fortnight or so is the time to come, although there’s much less to see on the outside at weekends.
The weather leading up to the key picking dates could make the difference between, well, seriously good and great. In case you weren’t aware, we had half as much rain in Bordeaux in the six months to the end of August compared to 2009, which was, of course, a dry year.
The weather in September has been fine, with a dash of refreshing rain in the second week and last week on Friday, 24th. As luck would have it, a drying northwesterly breeze blew off any humidity in the vines on Saturday, averting the risk of rot. The forecast is fine, just for the moment. We don’t really want to pick for the reds until next week, although we have harvested some Merlot plots early to make some rosé. This year, just as last, it’s best to bring in Merlot earlier – more so with these chilly mornings – and press quickly to make rosé, as we need acidity and not fully or over-ripe grapes.
How the near drought conditions affects the quality of the reds will be interesting to see, and taste. Philippe Blanc of Château Beychevelle told me last week that he thought it had been “too dry to be perfect” but others don’t agree. The general feeling is ‘très optimiste‘ and that’s a bit understated. Meanwhile, the number of owners and managers who are whipping up the hype for the vintage pale in comparison to the number of outside observers who are looking for news.
Here are some relevant tweets I’ve posted in the last few days:
A masterclass in the Médoc yesterday, tasting with Borie at GPL, Barton, Casteja at Batailley, Tesseron at Pontet Canet and Seely at Pichon.
Most wise heads in Bordeaux know that the last thing people want to hear is “2010 is another fabulous vintage….”
“Would you like to taste the 2010? I can tell you it’s jolly good & we’ll do our best to keep increases to a minimum.” A dry #AnthonyBarton
Lillian Barton, Chateau owner & negociant: “However well the 2010s turn out, they are going to be cheaper than the 2009s.”
After 2 weeks of fine weather, rain this morning might help the late-ripening Cabernet in the Medoc. Merlot starts in earnest there Monday.
After rain yesterday, a dry northerly breeze reduces humidity in the vines & the risk of rot. An important little detail. Forecast is good.
Chilly mornings & fine weather for the next 3 days. The Merlot harvest begins for many top Bordeaux estates. #vintage2010
It’s 8 am and 8˚C in the vineyard. Spare a thought for all the chilly pickers out there. Not really a romantic getaway. (27 Sept)
On the subject of Twitter, the people to follow for up-to-date Bordeaux news from resident winos, are @newbordeaux (Jane Anson of Decanter), @bordeauxuncorkd (Charlie Matthews) and yours truly @GavinQuinney.
Oh, and finally, if you’re concerned that your 2009s might have been too expensive, I can only say that buyers of Palmer, Pontet Canet, Léoville Barton and Pichon Longueville Baron have bought wines of breathtaking quality.