Château Marquis de Terme is owned by Famille Sénéclauze, this 35 ha property produces on average 13,000 cases per year. Located in the centre of the Margaux appellation, the property shares a similar climate to that enjoyed by the Médoc: maritime, with the Gironde estuary & the Bay of Biscay combining to act as a climate regulator & the coastal pine forests sheltering the vines from the westerly & north-westerly winds.
The vineyards (Cabernet Sauvignon 55%; Merlot 35%; Cabernet Franc 3%; Petit Verdot 7%) lie on gravelly-clay soils. Vinification includes approximately 18 months' wood ageing, 40% new oak. It is classified as a '4ème Cru Classé'.
2013 Extraordinary complexity ... from the start"
In our profession, we are in the habit of saying that every vintage has a certain personality, each one has its own story, and thus each wine is different.
The defining characteristic of 2013 was its extraordinary complexity! In 25 years of winemaking in France, in Bordeaux, Pomerol, Saint Emilion and Margaux, and in South Africa and California, I have never experienced a vintage that had so many questions and uncertainties surrounding the harvest. The challenge was to square the circle, to find a solution to an equation that had numerous variables, but one immovable objective: to produce a Grand Vin.
If we consider the various difficulties that were encountered over the course of 2013 the list is long, bordering on woeful: a cold, wet spring, flower abortion, uneven grape size, downy mildew and powdery mildew, delayed ripening, a growing presence of grey rot, a very low yield per hectare raising economic issues... One would have to go back decades, to another century, to find a comparable "perfect storm".
After a period of trying to obtain a solid weather forecast, the harvests began with a significant threat of disease and delayed ripening. We followed the changes in Europe's frontals and depressions, but the weather never stabilized. Every morning we hesitated between accelerating the pace of the harvests and stopping them altogether. The Merlot was picked from 2 to 4 October, the Petit Verdot on 8 and 11 October and finally the Cabernet Sauvignon from 8 to 15 October.
I like to remind our team that "we celebrated the end of the harvests on the day that we had intended to start them". Our task as winegrowers is to adapt to the vagaries of the weather, and all the other factors in the vines' development, to produce the best wine possible.
This was a year of challenges, of big decisions, and of meticulous care at the technical level. Rarely have the words "selection" and "rigor" been given as much meaning as in the work carried out by our team.
But what can we expect in terms of quality?
...let us not forget that the terroir is at the heart of the Margaux appellation. Furthermore, the careful tending of the vineyard with the removal of excess foliage, the controlled use of fertilizer, the reduced use of phytosanitary products, the environmentally friendly management of the plots, and the selection and sorting carried out during the harvest, all had their effect on the grapes. The alchemy of the deep gravel soil and the meticulous techniques applied to the vines constitute the deciding factors in the quality of our wines. In addition,our recent investments, particularly the improvement of our system for receiving and sorting the harvest in the winery, have given us rigorous control over the grapes going into the vats. There can be no doubt that improvements in vinification methods, with gentler, more natural techniques, have enabled us to reduce mechanical processes and to optimize the texture and silkiness of the tannins. This includes work carried out over the last 20 years to improve vineyard management and progress in our oenological approach, allowing us to enhance the expression of Château Marquis de Terme's magnificent terroir. Once again nature has reminded us that, far from becoming an industrial product, wine remains rooted in agriculture. It takes its character from the soil and the climate during each vintage, and it is this that gives it the historical, cultural dimension that we love so dearly and strive to protect. Nature may well have served us a harsh reminder this year, but we rose to the challenge of maintaining quality at all costs. Now in the vats, this is a pleasant, supple vintage, in the process of integrating freshness and balance, for laying down for the medium term. This of course provides an excellent opportunity to taste the property's recent great vintages of 2009, 2010 and 2011, while we leave 2013 to develop in peace.
Margaux, 10 November 2013
Director of Château Marquis de Terme
Grand Cru Classé in 1855