The mild and dry 2018-2019 winter period led to a rather precocious budbreak, on March 1st.
Then, in spring, with the cool temperatures, the vine grew slowly. The flowering was beautiful, with neither shatter nor millerandage. The vine growth was supported by consistent, steady rainfall in June, with the vine developing a very beautiful, uniform surface. From the end of June, the year 2019 was marked by several heatwaves. The month of July, which was particularly hot, ranks as the third-hottest July on record, after July 2006 and 2013, registering a record- breaking 42°C (107.6°F) on July 23rd.
A HOT AND DRY SUMMER
In August, the temperature variation between cool nights and hot days favored the development of anthocyanins (which color the grapes and tannins). These periods of intense heat resulted in relatively slow ripening, on the cabernet francs and sauvignons in particular, but did not stunt the vine.
Ripening progressed smoothly across all of the white varieties - which were ready in time for harvesting season - as well as on the earliest merlots.
In between these two rainy episodes, the dry, hot continental air accelerated the final ripening stage for all the red grape varieties.
Harvesting of the whites began on August 29th. The grapes were in perfect health. The hot weather during the final stage of maturation had us concerned about lessened acidity, particularly on the semillon grapes. For that reason, we decided to switch the usual order of harvesting.
After picking the first batches of ultra-ripe sauvignon, we immediately picked the golden bunches of semillon in order to retain as much freshness as possible for this grape variety. We then finished picking the sauvignon. A customized approach to harvesting in order to let the grapes express their best!
The first, blind tasting of the white wines confirmed that reversing the harvesting order was the right choice this year: the sauvignon wines have a ripe character without excess and a very good acidic balance. The semillons, meanwhile, have a very interesting acid matrix. The white harvest is generous and of very high quality.
QUALITY RESULTS FOR THE THREE RED GRAPE VARIETIES.
The harvesting of the reds began a little later, on September 10th.
For their part, the cabernet francs were picked after a period of rainfall that did them good. This grape variety is surprising for its level of aromatic and gustatory maturity, as well as for the silken quality of its tannic matter.
September rains also proved particularly beneficial to the cabernet sauvignon grape variety, allowing it to attain perfect maturity.
The 2015 vintage: Following in the footsteps of the greatest vintages
Spring 2015 (April, May, and June) was very dry. This was conducive to excellent flowering conditions, both quick and even. July was also a dry month. The effects of water stress were obvious in plots with the youngest vines. Fortunately, it finally rained on July 26th (14 mm), which gave a new impetus to the young Merlot vines and enabled véraison, or colour change, to take place unhindered.
The level of precipitation from March to June was much lower than the average of the last sixty-years. These drought conditions slowed down vegetative growth starting in July. This allowed the vine's vigour to be channelled into ripening the fruit. Another consequence of the cumulative dry, hot summer weather was very thick skins.
This led us to look after the vines with the greatest of care, giving tailor-made attention to each one. Leaf and bunch thinning were thus carried out to varying degrees and at different times. These two operations occurred early in the season and were intense for Merlot and Cabernet Franc, but took place later and were less intense for Cabernet Sauvignon and the white wine varieties. Going through the vines repeatedly to pluck leaves and thin bunches improved ventilation and enhanced ripening.
August was hot as well as rainy – which everyone in Bordeaux had been hoping for. This rain enabled the vines to maintain the necessary water reserves and to provide requisite nourishment for perfect ripeness. The harvest began in September under a clear blue sky. Thanks to this ideal weather, we were able to wait for optimum ripeness for each grape variety.
All the conditions are there to allow 2015 to join the greatest vintages of Haut-Brion and Mission Haut-Brion.
Le Clarence de Haut-Brion
50% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, 42% Cabernet Sauvignon – The harvest lasted from the 8th of September to the 5th of October.
La Clarté de Haut-Brion
27% Sauvignon Blanc, 73% Sémillon – The harvest lasted from the 28th of August to the 8th of September.
69% Sauvignon Blanc, 31% Sémillon – The harvest lasted from the 28th of August to the 7th of September.