Head of the newly-expanded wine division of French bank Credit Agricole is forecasting a better vintage this year than 2011 as it gears up for the harvest in Bordeaux.
Despite a very wet June and July in the famous wine region, the grapes are in better condition than last year according to Thierry Budin, managing director of the bank’s châteaux collection called CA Grands Crus.
“We are looking at harvesting a good vintage,” he said when speaking to the drinks business last week, before admitting that the company also had a right bank property to manage for the first time this year.
While he commented that he was concerned about the potential quality of the berries at the end of July after an extremely wet early summer period, he also said, “It seems the condition of grapes may be better than 2011.”
Although he warned, “We can lose everything in a week,” he added, “We expect to have a good harvest and we are surprised at the quality of the whites.”
Achieving healthy grapes this year so far has required attentive care in the vineyard, with Budin recording the need for daily treatments against botrytis due to the damp conditions.
MD Thierry Budin
In Sauternes specifically, where CA Grands Crus manage Château Rayne Vigneau, he forecast a relatively simple harvest with just two passes through the vineyard to select the shrivelled berries.
“This year could be just two tries because we know the botrytis is there.”
In terms of timings, he said the red grape harvest would start at the company’s Medoc properties – Châteaux Grand-Puy Ducasse, Meyney and Blaignan – on 25 September for its young vines of Merlot, and the beginning of October for the rest of its grapes.
Meanwhile, Budin said that the harvest at Credit Agricole’s Burgundy estate, Château de Santenay, Philippe-le-Hardi would be beginning this Monday with white grapes from Mercury and Côte de Beaune.
He added that the Mercury whites would be better than last year following a conversation with his viticulturist in the region.
As previously reported by the drinks business, vineyards in Meursault, Pommard and Volnay suffered from hail damage in late July and early August.
Speaking more generally about the business, Budin told db that Credit Agricole has bought its first right bank Bordeaux estate having purchased Clos Saint Vincent.
Situated near the village of St Émilion, the estate abuts Monbousquet, Plaisance and Valandraud, and Budin described its as “a small estate with good potential”.
Elsewhere, Budin said that he had just taken delivery of a concrete egg-shaped fermenter for CA Grands Crus’ flagship property Grand-Puy Ducasse, having also invested €150,000 in an optical grape sorter in time for this year’s harvest, following trials with the equipment last year.
Finally, according to Bordeaux Undiscovered, in March this year CA Grands Crus bought an 18% stake in Vignobles André Lurton – one of Bordeaux’s biggest wine companies.