The wine trade and press descend on Bordeaux next week for the official En Primeur tastings of the latest vintage. There’s little doubt, to my mind, that they’ll find a great many exciting wines, both in the Royal Circle and in the more affordable stalls. At the top end, the wines will not be cheap when prices emerge later on but there’ll be scores of others that offer terrific bang for your buck – or even for your pound. Here, as a precursor to these tastings of young wines from barrel, is a graphical look at how the weather made the vintage.
Here’s how the vintage panned out. I’ll start with a few graphs and tables, and then show a few photos to give you an idea of what was happening in the vineyard. Keep reading
2016 was the biggest Bordeaux harvest in over a decade, according to official figures. The production of 577.2 million litres – the equivalent of a staggering 770 million bottles – was the largest since 2006, when there was 10% more vineyard area. Strong harvest figures for Bordeaux are, of course, in stark contrast to many less fortunate regions across France in 2016.
(If this piece looks familiar, it was also published on JancisRobinson.com and Liv-ex.)
At an average of 52 hectolitres per hectare (hl/ha), 2016 saw the highest yield per hectare since the largest crop of the century to date in 2004, which came in at 54 hl/ha. “The yield on the Merlot,” I wrote in Bordeaux 2016 – quality and quantity last October, “is the biggest I’ve seen since 2004 and the quality is far superior to that attractive but uneven vintage. As Bordeaux is 89% red and Merlot accounts for two thirds of that 89%, it’ll be a big crop out in the sticks.” Keep reading
An extraordinary growing season and a terrific harvest. Fortune has smiled on us this year and we’re all the more grateful considering the difficulties facing many growers elsewhere in France. The tanks above shows the lottery of growing grapes. Normally, we make roughly the equivalent of three of our 20,000 litre blending tanks of white wine. In 2013, after a 10-minute August hailstorm, we made just one. This year, touch wood, we’ll fill almost five. As our biggest selling white – our straight Sauvignon Blanc – sold out within a few months, that’s welcome news. Keep reading
This post was also published on jancisRobinson.com and Liv-ex, the fine wine exchange.
Nature has been kind to Bordeaux this year. A bumper crop for many, and a fine harvest – so far. It may be over for some growers in this vast region but there are plenty of bunches still out there, as numerous chateaux hold on for the later-ripening Cabernets and the last Merlots from cooler soils.
There has been no rush, no panic, to bring in the grapes. After the bone-dry summer, the vines enjoyed some overdue refreshment thanks to heavy rain on the night of 13 September. It cleared up soon afterwards and, since then, we’ve had dry and sunny weather for the build-up to the harvest – and for the picking itself – with just one more night of rain on Friday 30 September during a crucial four week period. Keep reading
This week has been dry and sunny, so we’ve decided to hold off harvesting the reds at Bauduc for the moment. We had a heavy dollop of rain last Friday night – straight after we’d sent out an upbeat monthly review – so an excellent September came to an abrupt end. Thankfully though, the rain was just a one-off and since then we’ve had fresh mornings and glorious days. We therefore thought we’d leave that downpour to freshen things up in the vineyard, and hang on for what they call optimum ripeness.
We also have a useful early warning system nearby, thanks to the earlier maturing vineyards of Pomerol some 25 minutes up the road near Libourne, where Tom goes to school. Our Merlot usually ripens 8-10 days later than at the top chateaux on the plateau of Pomerol so, after dropping Tom at school, it makes good sense – in the name of research, of course – to study the harvest taking place on one of the finest patches of dirt in the world. Keep reading