Bordeaux 2013: hardest of past 30 years

2013 marks a trio of difficult vintages in Bordeaux, but this year was the hardest of not just the past three, but the past 30 years believes one château owner.

Jean Christophe Mau

Jean Christophe Mau at Château Brown

In a missive on the vintage sent to db early today, Chateau Brown’s Jean-Christophe Mau compared 2011, 2012 and 2013 – a triplet of tricky harvests – to previous sets of three tough years, such as 1971, 72 and 73, as well as the frosts of 1991, 1992 and 1993.

But, remarking on the notably challenging nature of this year, he noted, “What a difficult vintage this one was, coming after a decade or so when we had got used to things being on the easier side.”

Continuing, he wrote, “One thing is certain today: 2013 has been one of the hardest vintages, or perhaps even the most complicated, in the last 30 years.”

The “disastrous” spring was a primary cause for the problems, creating significant reductions in yield as well as delaying the vine’s vegetative cycle, with veraison occurring as late as 20 August for the Merlot.

Then, high levels of humidity in September “forced” Château Brown, which is based in Pessac-Léognan, to begin harvesting on 1 October, “earlier than we had hoped”.

While Mau said the Merlot grapes were in “very good condition”, patches of botrytis required “strict sorting in the vineyard and winery” and as a result, yields for Château Brown’s red grapes were down to 33hl/ha, around 25% down on the ten-year average.

“We should consider ourselves lucky, however, compared to those in Bordeaux who were hit by a deluge in June or those who suffered from the many hailstorms that ruined all or part of their harvests,” he added.

In terms of the resulting wines, Mau said the “main disappointment” will be “tannin quality” – which, he noted, “would have benefitted from at least another fortnight to finish off ripening.”

Concluding on the reds, he said, “The winemaking process is set to be a very technical, precise and delicate one. The key will be to extract the tannins gently and go for the roundness and fruity expression that can make this vintage a success.”

Similarly, Dourthe’s head winemaker Frédéric Bonnaffous recorded a yield reduction for red wines of 30-40% at the company’s Château Pey la Tour in Entre-Deux-Mers due to poor weather during flowering and fruit set.

As a result of the weather conditions during the growing season, he added, “We have never invested so much time on canopy managements as we have done this year.”

Meanwhile, like Mau, Dourthe’s president Patrick Jestin said that this year’s Merlot was lower than usual in tannins, noting that the wines from this grape were “a little less tannic than 2012” and “less dense in colour than last year”.

Speaking of the harvest, he recalled, “Harvesting began at most of our properties on 30 September. We had to be vigilant and react quickly. Often the best laid plans had to be adapted.

Continuing, he noted, “New sorting equipment at Belgrave, La Garde, Le Boscq, Pey la Tour and Rahoul and an increased workforce were extremely effective in eliminating Merlot affected by millerandage [uneven berry size].”

Finally, as reported by db in late September, the director of one of the First Growths was heard to say to colleagues that 2013 would be “the worst vintage of our career”.

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note that comments are subject to our posting guidelines in accordance with the Defamation Act 2013. Posts containing swear words, discrimination, offensive language and libellous or defamatory comments will not be approved.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Fine Wine Sales Administrator

Davy's Wine Merchants
London, UK

Content Manager (Maverick Drinks)

ATOM Supplies
London, UK

Graphic Designer (NPD)

ATOM Supplies
Tunbridge Wells, UK

Press Officer

Speciality Drinks
London, UK

UK Private Clients Manager

Ditton Wine Traders
London, UK

London Business Development Manager

Maisons Marques et Domaines UK Ltd

Head of Buying - Spirits

Enotria&Coe
West London, UK

Liquid Production Supervisor

ATOM Supplies
Tonbridge, Kent, UK

Sales Account Manager – Cotswolds

Haynes Hanson & Clark
Gloucestershire, UK

Communications & PR Manager

Bruichladdich
Islay, UK

International Bulk Wine and Spirits Show

London,United Kingdom
26th Feb 2018

Spirited London

London,United Kingdom
15th Mar 2018

Prowein 2018

Dusseldorf,Germany
18th Mar 2018
Click to view more

The Global Malbec Masters 2017

the drinks business is proud to announce the inaugural Global Malbec Masters 2017

The Global Sparkling Masters 2017

the drinks business is thrilled to announce the launch of The Global Sparkling Masters.

Click to view more