The magnificent month of September played its Indian summer saving role to the full, as with so many good and very good vintages. All the red grape varieties reached an excellent maturity level, characterised by great concentration, very high sugar content – the highest since 2010 – and strong acidity. In fact, such balance is typical of Bordeaux’s great wines, whose tannic strength is always accompanied by a pleasant freshness. Under such conditions, our new vinification tool has been able to deliver the complete scope of its possibilities, not by replacing our other traditional vat rooms, still also necessary, but by enabling us to go even further in the intra-plot selection, and the precision of all those technical procedures. How far we have come in thirty years! We use four times as many vats to produce half the amount of wine… It’s probably the Pavillon Rouge and Margaux de Château Margaux, our third wine, which benefit the most from this recent progress, because it’s at their level that the plot selection has to be particularly rigorous. As for the very great terroirs, they belong to a different world… In any case, only 24% of the harvest has gone into Pavillon Rouge, whereas 36% has gone into the first wine; the largest share - 40% - has gone in the third and fourth wines.
This effort in the selection brings the Pavillon Rouge closer to the first wine, as much in quality as in personality, even if it still lacks the magic that belongs only to the great plots.
The proportions of the grape varieties in the Pavillon Rouge blend are classic: 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot and 1% Petit Verdot
The production of a second wine probably goes back to the beginning of the XVII century because it is inseparable from the search for excellence which started at that time. Sold under the name of “Château Margaux 2nd wine”, it took its permanent name of Pavillon Rouge du Château Margaux in 1908. After an eclipse between the thirties and the mid-seventies, its production restarted on the arrival of André Mentzelopoulos in 1977 and at first greatly increased in order to improve the quality of the first wine. From the mid - 1990s, the creation of a third wine in its turn, allowed for a more and more rigorous selection for Pavillon Rouge. For a few years now, a third of the harvest has gone into the first wine, barely 30% into the Pavillon Rouge, and the remainder is divided between the third and fourth wines.
The quality of Pavillon Rouge has become very close to that of the first wine because all the plots involved contributed to the blending of Château Margaux not so long ago.
A Snap-shot of the 2014 Vintage by Markus Del Monego MW
2014 had an early start with budbreak around 10 days ahead of the 10 years average. End of May flowering started on the early terroirs in heterogeneous conditions, whereas the later varieties such as Cabernet-Sauvignon and Franc as well as later terroirs took advantage of a warm and sunny period beginning of June. July and August where quite cool and humid and in the second half of August the vintners prepared themselves for a vintage even worse than 2013 but at the end of August everything changed. A spledid indian summer througout September and October saved the quality. Harvest started for the white grapes started three days later than in 2012 but two weeks later than 2011. For the red grapes the harvest startet with Merlot at the end of September and ended with the Cabernets in the second half of October. The cool climate during summer provides a higher acidity, the indian summer is responsible for the right ripening.
The dry white wines are on a very good quality level showing crisp acidity and ripe flavours. The noble sweet white wines also take advantage of the higher acidity balancing the opulent sweetness. Therefore this vintage seems more on the elegant side. The presentation of red wines depends very much on the grape varietes and terroirs. Overall the red wines are on a higher quality level than the three previous vintages. Saint-Emilion is excellent on the plateau calcaire and shows in general very good wines.
In Pomerol the centre of the plateau was in advantage over the surrounding areas. Fronsac was a very positive surprise for 2014. In the Médoc the southern part proved to be more heterogenous than the northern part, where especially Saint-Estèphe was homogenous and excellent. South of Bordeaux Pessac-Léognan presented a very homogenous picture of a very good quality level with outstanding wines from Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion.
One last observation: This vintage digests oak in a great way. The oak is even not obvious in wines with a 100% new oak barrels for maturation. Now there are roughtly twelve month to follow for the maturation of the 2014s untill the bottling in 2016. A lot can happen in this period. Let us see how the wines will present themselves after bottling, it will be a very interesting tasting again. 2014 is not a great vintage like 2005, 2009 or 2010 but it will be able to secure a position as one of the very good vintages of Bordeaux.