Sauternes 2017: frost damage hits Barsac hardest

As with the rest of Bordeaux in 2017 the frosts that struck in late April hit Sauternes and Barsac hard – but it’s clear some were hit harder than others.

It is now widely known that Château Climens will not be producing a wine from the 2017 vintage having suffered losses of around 98%.

Speaking to the drinks business, Berenice Lurton explained that the frost damage had been “really terrible” and destroyed “all the buds”.

Although a second budding did take place it largely resulted in foliage rather than fruit.

What little there was would be made into Climen’s second wine, ‘Cypres de Climens’ and frustratingly Lurton added that after the frost conditions had proved extremely favourable for the region, with a good amount of Botrytis setting in later on.

“I’m sure we would have had a very nice vintage,” she said. “In a way it’s nature, we know it can happen my fear is that it will be more frequent than before.”

The situation in Barsac certainly appears to be worse than in Sauternes – although among more prominent producers it does not appear to have been quite as disastrous as it was at Climens and the likes of Coutet, Rieussec, Sigala-Rabaud and Suduiraut will all be producing a wine from the 2017 crop.

A statement from Suduiraut explained: “The April frost did not affect all the villages in the same way. Some of them suffered heavy losses – in some cases up to 90% of production – similar to the 1991 vintage. In this case, the diversity of maturity and the very small number of available clusters did not allow for a suitable trie and a stringent selection process as is normally the case for a grand vin.”

Aline Baly at Château Coutet said that losses at the estate amounted to some 50%, however, fortunately, she continued: “The heart of Coutet, which constitute some our best blocks, did not suffer any severe damages. As a result, there will be a 2017 vintage for the Grand Cru even if the quantities will be smaller than the average annual production.”

Suduiraut said only its “secondary plots” were affected while Laure de Lambert Campeyrot at Sigalas Rabaud said thatdespite being so nervous she was unable to sleep during the night of 27/28 April, in the end, ”we were completely spared!”

She continued: “Around Sauternes and the area around Bommes everything is fine. The bigger properties, like our neighbour Le Rayne Vigneau, had a few parcels hit lower down the slope but those higher up were spared.

‘From what I’ve heard the parcels generally used for second wines had a lot of frost damage but not the great terroirs.”

As Lurton mentioned, what is particularly cruel is that the conditions later in the year were good for sweet wines with noble rot, concentration and acidity.

Pierre Montegut, technical director at Suduiraut, said: “After few months of ageing, the nose has already developed intense aromas of orange and ripe apricot, due to the great concentration of noble rot. The palate reveals unctiousness and a profound depth. Long length and freshness characterise this wonderful vintage.”

Eric Kohler, technical director of Domaine Barons de Rothschild, added: “The 2017 vintage at Château Rieussec is an enjoyment for our teams. We have been lucky enough with the weather and botrytis developed perfectly, at the right time.

“We will be proud to present it during en primeur week in April, conscious however that other local producers were not as lucky as we have been.”

Leave a Reply

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

Subscribe to our newsletters

Partner Manager - Manged On-Trade

Maverick Drinks
London, UK

Brand Manager

Hatch Mansfield
Ascot, Berkshire

Head of Sales

IWSC
London, UK

Logistic and Fullfilment - Whisky (and wine) administrator

Stilnovisti Ltd
London, United Kingdom // Dufftown, Keith, United Kingdom

Account Manager

Harviestoun Brewery
Field Based, UK

Buyer - Spain & South America

Enotria&Coe
London, UK

Events Sales Manager

Enotria&Coe
Field based - London or surrounding area

Sales Director Europe

Mirabeau Wine
Europe

Digital Co-ordinator

Alliance Wine
London, UK

Argentina Breaking New Ground Masterclass Series

Manchester,United Kingdom
16th Oct 2018

Argentina Breaking New Ground Masterclass Series

Leeds,United Kingdom
17th Oct 2018

Argentina Breaking New Ground Masterclass Series

Edinburgh,United Kingdom
18th Oct 2018
Click to view more

The Global Sauvignon Blanc Masters 2018

Deadline : 15th October 2018

Global Chardonnay Masters 2018

Deadline : 17th October 2018

Click to view more

The Global Sparkling Masters 2018

As with all of the drinks business awards, our judging panel is comprised of Masters of Wine, Master Sommeliers and senior buyers making the competition globally renowned.

Champagne Masters 2018

Enter your wines into the Champagne Masters 2018, the only blind competition dedicated to Champagne in the UK.

Click to view more