Bordeaux 2013 – the harvest at Bauduc

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6am on a Sunday morning. Harvesting Sauvignon at Bauduc.

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Another year, another harvest. Only this one – our 15th would you believe – was our toughest yet. I suspect many Bordeaux growers will be thinking along the same lines, and 90% of them didn’t get hit by the Summer hail.

There are some bright spots at Bauduc. We have got some good tanks of white and rosé fermenting away.

Doubling up

After losing much the crop in the hail on 2 August, and spurred on by scores of supportive comments on our blog, we managed to lease some vineyards from another chateau.

By taking out a lease ahead of the harvest, and not just buying grapes, we are able to mix the grapes with those from our own vineyard and label the wine ’Chateau Bauduc’. (As a grower, buying grapes from other growers is not permitted, except when there’s a special ruling after a disaster. Only the French…)

La Bertrande - 001

Our ‘new’ vineyard at Omet, near Cadillac.

Not wanting to tempt fate, we’ve kept this under our hats until the harvest was in. Time (and our accountant) will tell whether we made the right call, but we felt the chances of making enough good wine from our own vines alone were fairly slim.

I’ll be writing the indispensable guide on ’How to borrow another chateau’s vineyard’ soon.

Glass half full, literally

As for what we have now produced, we said just after the hail that we’d lost about half the crop – in a storm lasting just ten minutes. Now that the harvest is in, we have indeed lost about 50% and of the crop, and of the 50% that’s left, only half will make the Bauduc grade: some rows were hit too hard for the remaining grapes to ripen properly. The rejected stuff will be sold off in bulk.

To put some numbers on that, we would have made over 6000 litres per hectare of white, with each hectare having 4000 vines on average. We have picked a little over 3000 l/ph from our 15 hectares. It’s a similar story with red but the numbers are lower – 4000 litres per hectare down to 2000 litres.

Bauduc Sauvignon Sunday - 249

Sauvignon Blanc in a parcel at Bauduc that was protected by the woods.

The good news is that our 2013 white should be a fine blend of Sauvignon Blanc and a little Sémillon coming from the other vineyard, and the two blocks at Bauduc that had good storm protection from the woods.

With the ’back-up’ vineyard producing some lovely Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon as well, there should be enough rosé. We sold out very quickly of our 2012 Provençal-style pink which had great reviews from customers.

Bordeaux 2013

Bauduc and hail apart, it has been an extraordinary season of ups and downs in Bordeaux, so much so that I put together a detailed ’pre-harvest report’ for JancisRobinson.com and Livex (the fine wine trading exchange). It’s on our blog too, along with the next installments ’the harvest so far’ and ’the end of the harvest’.

In short, 2013 has been the most difficult vintage in Bordeaux I’ve seen. Une année compliquée is a polite way of putting it.

On the up side, it’s a good vintage for whites, both dry and sweet. The reds will be extremely variable at all price points, and a small crop.

Summary of other 2013 harvest blog posts:

Bordeaux 2013 – pre-harvest report

Bordeaux 2013 – the harvest so far

Bordeaux 2013 – the end of the harvest

Bordeaux 2013 – Bauduc harvest, sparrow’s fart

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