Bordeaux on course to make legendary vintage
Should dry, sunny conditions remain in Bordeaux, this year’s vintage could be an exceptional harvest – as good as the legendary 1982, according to Baron Philippe de Rothschild MD Philippe Dhalluin.
Speaking to the drinks business yesterday in London, where Dhalluin lead a tasting of Mouton Rothschild, he said that weather during 2015 had already ensured that this year will be a “good vintage”, and, as long as a forecast for continued dry and sunny conditions is correct, then it could be an “exceptional” year.
“So far, so good… but we need nice weather now until the end of the harvest [2-3 weeks], but we don’t need high temperatures because we have a good level of ripeness now,” he began, adding that the weather forecast for the next two weeks in Bordeaux is “very good”.
Continuing, he said, “What I really believe, and I could be wrong, is that we have a good vintage – that is done. I was tasting berries at Mouton on Friday, and in certain places, they are mature, and one thinks, ‘why wait, it is perfect.’”
“But,” he added, “Will it be a very good or an exceptional vintage? – that I don’t know.”
When asked to compare the conditions to past vintages, Dhalluin said that despite extreme heat in Bordeaux during May, June and July, this year’s vintage bore little resemblance to 2003 – a year characterised by very high summertime temperatures.
However, he said that the harvest was reminiscent of great vintages, ones where dry, sunny conditions produced concentrated and balanced wines, mentioning in particular the legendary 1982, as well as 2005.
“This year is not a 2003; It is too early to say, but it could be an ’82, or a 2005… but maybe it will be an ’89,” he speculated.
Then, barely concealing his optimism about the quality of this year’s harvest, he commented, “The berries have a good level of acidity but they are so sweet – it is rare for the grapes to taste so good so early in the season: generally in early September they are very acidic, with rough tannins, but that is not the case, so I’m hoping for wines with very mature tannins, wines that are dense and silky.”
Meanwhile, in an email sent to db yesterday, Olivier Bernard, president of the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux, also suggested there was potential greatness in 2015.
He wrote, “It has been several years since Bordeaux has seen such a magnificent vintage,” although he added, “There are still a few weeks of suspense before this promise is fulfilled.”
His full report on the vintage so far can be read below:
The months of May, June and July 2015 were among the hottest and driest on record. Water stress, so important for slowing vegetative growth and ripening, took place early July and brought with it magnificent véraison early August. I haven’t seen such an early, even véraison since 2009. All our grapes had colour by 15 August and many of them were already deeply-coloured. Fortunately the month of August was cooler and wetter returning a certain vigour to the vines.
Dry white wines
The month of August enabled the grapes, especially the white wine grapes, to “breathe” and retain their freshness. The first grapes were picked at the end August. The juice is superb and the weather forecast for the next two weeks is looking perfect. We are quietly confident this will be a great year!!!
The Merlots will be harvested during the last ten days of September and the Cabernets during the first two weeks of October. The grapes are showing magnificent potential, but we still need six weeks without major disruption.
Sweet white wines
The Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes are slowly reaching perfect ripeness. As with every vintage, botrytis will call the shots but conditions are favourable for its development.