Bordeaux 2013: a Cabernet vintage14th October, 2013 by Patrick Schmitt
Vintage conditions in Bordeaux this year have favoured white wines and the Cabernet grape according to Alain Crohem, development director at CA Grands Crus, a group of wine estates owned by Crédit Agricole.
During a discussion on Thursday evening with the drinks business about this year’s harvest in Bordeaux, Crohem described the whites as “beautiful” and stated that they “are better than the reds in 2013”, although he later expressed his high hopes for Cabernet Sauvignon.
This year’s harvest in Bordeaux started unusually late due to a cool, wet and windy spring, which delayed the onset of flowering for almost three weeks.
Vignerons then had to contend with uneven flowering (particularly for the Merlot) and poor fruit set, as well as hailstorms in August, which together have reduced yields significantly.
Furthermore, a bout of wet and warm conditions during late September saw the rapid spread of rot in Bordeaux’s early ripening and thin-skinned Merlot, requiring estates to bring in the grapes quickly, before sorting carefully.
However, the later ripening and tougher Cabernet Sauvignon has faired better.
Speaking of last week’s conditions in left bank Bordeaux, Croheme said “We thought we should harvest the Cabernet at the beginning of the week, but there was a lot of sun during the day, even though it was cold during the night, so we waited, and it has been very interesting for the Cabernet… the last five days have been very important for the Cabernet.”
Summing up he added, “2013 will be a Cabernet vintage, whereas 2011 and 2012 were more a Merlot vintage.”
He also recorded that “the Cabernet is fantastic” at CA Grands Crus’ Château Meyney in the Médoc, although he noted that the Merlot yields at this property are down 20% due to rot and coulure.
Similarly, at Clos Saint Vincent, Crédit Agricole’s only right bank property (which it bought in 2011) yields have fallen to 30hl/ha from an average of around 40hl/ha.
Along with Clos Saint Vincent, CA Grands Crus owns Château Rayne Vigneau in Sauternes, as well as Châteaux Grand-Puy Ducasse, Meyney and Blaignan in the Médoc and Château de Santenay in Burgundy.
The company has just launched a new blend called Quintessence from its Cru Bourgeois Medoc property Château Blaignan.
Made from 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet, the wine sees 30% new French oak, and comes from the 2011 vintage.
The new label, which will be priced at around £15 in the UK, has been made because CA Grands Crus “want to show that this terroir has good potential,” said Crohem.
He also explained that Credit Agricole installed a new cellar at Blaignan in 2009, which was of such a high standard that Crohem said they could use it to make the wines of Fifth Growth Grand-Puy-Ducasse.
CA Grands Crus intend to announce news later this week of a new UK distributor for its entire collection of wines.