THE 2013 BORDEAUX BARRELS DIARY
Domaines Delon (Château Léoville Las Cases) Michael Georges, 40, is the technical director for both Châteaus Léoville Las Cases and Nenin and has worked with the Jean-Hubert Delon properties since 1998. "On the Right Bank we are lucky to have some Cabernet Franc, because the Merlot was so hurt by the flowering," said Georges in regard to the Delon-owned Château Nenin in Pomerol. "The Cab Franc brought some finesse to the tannins and helped the blend. And back on the Left Bank, Cabernet Sauvignon on gravel were the favored spots, but Cab Franc on the clay did well too." "But things were difficult in 2013 because of the amount of work and the timing. We did de-leafing as flowering was ending, which is earlier than usual," said Georges. "There was also more leaf removal than usual, as well as more lateral shoot removal. This was preventative against gray rot, which I had never seen that early before. The key to the vintage was to anticipate, rather than wait. We did green harvesting during veraison, for example, rather than waiting until the end. The goal was to increase the phenolic ripeness as much as possible, seeing that it was going to be a short season."
The Château Nenin Pomerol Fugue de Nenin 2013 blends Merlot with 5 percent Cabernet Franc. It's charming as it shows light cherry and floral notes, gentle finish with a lightly dusty feel. The Château Nenin Pomerol 2013 is two-thirds Merlot, with the rest Cabernet Franc, a noticeable percentage of the latter. It has a good core of cherry and red currant, with a lightly sappy edge, which is unusual for the vintage. The fresh, racy finish picks up a nice floral edge and overall it's focused and pure. "We normally work for low extraction across all the estates, so we didn't change much for 2013 in that regard. Slightly lower temperature and less remontage, but not much. We were most careful at the last part of the alcoholic fermentation, to avoid extracting the dry or green tannins," said Georges. At Delon's Médoc property, the yield came in at a surprising 2.9 tons per acre, though the Château Potensac Médoc Chapelle de Potensac 2013 was slightly chaptalized to boost it's alcohol. It comes off in a nice, bright, tangy style, with good plum pit, Campari and floral notes and lively acidity.
The Château Potensac Médoc 2013 has a nice taut feel, with the flesh to match, as lightly sinewy tannins carry red currant and brisk plum fruit through a bright finish. At the flagship estate, yields were 2.3 tons per acre. The Château Léoville Las Cases St.-Julien Le Petit Lion 2013 is open and juicy, with nice flesh to the plum and blackberry notes. It has light vanilla and graphite hints through the finish, and no green notes at all. It's a nice surprise. From vineyards across the road and on slightly different black sand and gravel soils, the Clos du Marquis St.-Julien 2013 is sourced from 30-year-old vines. It's being aged in 50 percent new oak, actually an increase from 30 percent since the 2010 vintage. It has solid red licorice, damson plum and cherry pit notes, with good focus and a pleasantly taut feel through the finish. Overall it has good length and energy.
The Château Léoville Las Cases St.-Julien 2013 is being aged in 85 percent new oak, up from 75 since the 2010 vintage. The 74/14/12 Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot blend is sourced from the famed l'Enclos vineyard that borders Château Latour, featuring various soil types ranging from clay to gravel, plus older vines that average 50 years old and range up to 80. It's surprisingly sappy, with delicious kirsch, crushed plum and raspberry coulis flavors lined with charcoal, sweet spice and singed apple wood notes. There's lots of stuffing here, on a level with Haut-Brion in terms of depth, but with a sleek, longer feel to boot. It's showing some wood today, but the fruit density is there, and this wine always tends to build slowly in the cellar anyway. This wine keeps quietly checking in at the elite level of the region and 2013 looks to be no exception. "Cabernet Franc is really the marker of Las Cases," said Georges. "It's relatively rare in the Médoc and 14 percent in the blend is a high percentage. It's the bridge between Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It gives some finesse to the Cabernet Sauvignon and adds depth to the Merlot. But it's tricky to grow, and the yield has to be lower than either Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Luckily in '13, that was the case."