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THE HARVEST 2015, A HIGHLY ANTICIPATED VINTAGE

The magic multiples of 5 vintages !

The harvesting of the Merlot began on the 21st of September under bright sunshine. The next ten days look sunny and windy which should allow the Cabernet Sauvignon to reach a beautiful maturity. The first plots give us hope of a generous harvest, will the magic of the multiples of 5 work again… ?

 A later budding than average

The feeble winter rainfall and cool temperatures in March delayed the budding. It was not until the beginning of April when 50% of the physiological stage was reached.We had dry weather, and the temperature was warming rapidly (28°C from the 13th of April), up until the 1st of May. The vines were growing fast, no water stress and favorable temperatures set the tempo for this month of May.

A very early summer

Summer arrived on the 2nd of June promoting a fast and homogeneous blossoming for all the grape varieties. This made up for the delay! It has been a long time since we had not had such conditions for the flowering, we can finally hope to produce a decent yield! Only one rainy period in the month of June and a summer that seems to settle permanently. Note that we only had 19mm of rainfall between the 13th of June and the 2nd of August! The month of July was one of the hottest in the last 20 years.

Medium to high levels of water stress became apparent on some soils, which manifested quickly and the vine growth appeared to stop at the end of July. The ripening of the grapes finally began!The ripening started from mid-July but the lack of water hindered its progress until the weekend of the 1st of August, when the Merlot and the Cabernet were simultaneously changing color.

The month of August was more unstable and was marked by a period of rainfall every 10 days. The weather remained hot with little temperature difference between night and day

The health status of the vines at this point was perfect; all that was left to do was to wait for the berries to ripen.

The homogeneity between the grape varieties, with a color change starting at the beginning of August, guaranteed an earlier harvest date than usual, which generally is an advantage in the rhythm and means we obtain a quality harvest.

The levels of water stress in the vines and their precocity enabled a quick ripening of the seeds. The richness in polyphenols is situated in average in the best vintages with thick skins.

By this we already know that we can extract more than we could for the latest vintages as the tannins of the skins and the seeds are rich and ripe.

The harvest

The harvesting of the Merlot started on the 21st of September, just like in 2005, is this another sign … ? They are crunchy and tasty with an alcohol potential level between 13.5% and 14.5%. The color is extracted quickly unlike the round and silky tannins which diffuse more slowly. The acidity is lower than last year without reaching the levels obtained in 2009. We had already remarked this on the Sauvignon Blanc which started on the 3rd of September.

The Merlot harvest should finish on the 30th of September. It’s safe to say the harvest of the Cabernets will follow starting in the beginning of October. The harvest of the Petit Verdot, a variety that lies on excellent terroirs, is likely to slip somewhere into the middle of the Cabernet Sauvignon harvest. The first tastings of the grapes and the vats suggest that the wines will be powerful yet rich without any severity. They should be racy and silky.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, the verdict will fall in a few days, the 10th of October may indeed be the final day of harvest as it was in 2005!

Matthieu BORDES – General Director

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History

A place of great agricultural activity even back in Gallo-Roman times : from the Gallo-Roman VILLA RUSTICA to the « GRANGIA » in the Middle Ages which was to give the estate its name.

Lagrange discovers an early winegrowing vocation thanks to the Templars who join together two domains :– The « maison noble de Lagrange de Monteil » to the West joins the « Tenure of Pellecalhus » (meaning « peeled stone ») to the East. In the present-day vineyard, the names of two vine plots bear witness to this era, « l’Hôpital » and « La Chapelle »;– Lagrange becomes the largest wine producing estate in the Médoc. But the history of the different owners cannot be reconstructed until after 1631.

The 18th century brings renown to Lagrange

Baron de Brane, a Bordeaux parliament member, and owner of Mouton, acquires the property and its renown thus becomes more widespread.In 1790, Jean-Valère Cabarrus, an influential merchant known to be very active in the shipping business, invests in the property and establishes his own sales network. In 1820, he commissions Visconti to build the Tuscan-style tower that is to become the emblem of Château Lagrange.

From Jefferson to Duchâtel, the story of a classification

During a trip to Bordeaux In 1785, Thomas Jefferson, then President of the United States, judges Lagrange second among the Third Classified Growths. In 1855, Lagrange ranks among Third Classified Growths. This is thanks to the work of Count Duchâtel, owner from 1842 to 1874. In 1842, Count Charles Tenneguy Duchâtel and the Countess bring change to Lagrange :
– Innovation with a pottery drainage pipe factory.
– Château Lagrange now stretches over 300 hectares of which 120 are under vine.
– The Count is a politician, Home Secretary to King Louis-Philippe.
– Passion for the arts, Member of the Académie des Beaux Arts.

 

Lagrange today

The Japanese group, Suntory, acquired the domain when the purchase was signed by the company president, Mr Keizo Saji, in1983.

Marcel Ducasse was then recruited along with Kenji Suzuta to undertake the complete restructuring of the vineyard and a spectacular renovation of the whole estate. This first step was to mark the rebirth of CHÂTEAU LAGRANGE.

After twenty years of dedicated work, as well as human and technical investments, Lagrange had once again found recognition amidst its peers and had achieved a certain sense of fulfilment.

Today a new tandem, Matthieu Bordes and Keiichi Shiina, have taken over this quest for excellence. A second phase of investments began with the 2008 vintage, offering Lagrange the technical means to follow its ambitions: The production of refined, elegant and expressive wines, in the best Saint-Julien style. There has also been an evolution of production methods towards a greater awareness of the environment and a reduction of ecological impact on the property.

This philosophy is reflected not only in the respect shown for the domain’s History, and the nurturing of its truly exceptional Terroir, but also in the unique experiences shared all over the world around a glass of one of Lagrange’s wines.

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Vineyards

Located entirely within the appellation of Saint-Julien, our vineyard stretches in a single block over two North-South rises of Gunzian gravelly soil. In parts large and coarse and in others finer, this gravel is combined with sand or iron-rich clay depending on the plot. With an altitude of 24 metres, the centre of the domain marks the highest point of Saint-Julien. The estate covers 182 hectares (450 acres), of which 118 hectares (292 acres) are under vine. Most of the plots benefit from a drainage system.

The Médoc is undoubtedly where the Cabernet Sauvignon best expresses its character. When this grape variety is planted in our deep gravelly soils, it constitutes the very backbone of our wines and ensures their ageing potential. The greatest of our vineyard’s terroirs are reserved for this elite grape, which covers 67% of the estate. As for the Merlot, this earlier variety does exceedingly well on our cooler soils, making up 28% of the vineyard. Then for the final touch, the complexity of our wines is heightened by the 5% of Petit Verdot planted on our most prestigious soils.

Our white wine vineyard covers 7.5 hectares (19 acres) and is planted with Sauvignon Blanc (60%), Sauvignon Gris (20%) and Sémillon (20%).

The viticultural methods are chosen to respect Tradition whilst aiming for Perfection. From the choice of the varietals and rootstocks best suited to Lagrange’s soils, to the myriad minutious vine-care tasks carried out through the year, everything concurs to maintain the most regular and eco-friendly production possible. High density of plantation, rigorous pruning, de-leafing, thinning out in July and traditional ploughing all contribute to ensure the grapes produced are rich and concentrated. The traditional hand picking allows us to sort the bunches and ensure that only the best of them arrive whole and healthy at the vat cellar.

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Winemaking

A subtle blend of tradition and modernity : these notions come together at harvest-time. The harvest is firstly handpicked into individual crates and then sorted both manually and by an optical sorting machine. Here we see Technology at the service of Excellence. Traditional Bordeaux vinification is carried out in 92 temperature-controlled stainless steel vats of varying capacities, thus allowing a separate vinification to respect the character of each plot and soil-type, each terroir. Placing all or part of a given plot into its own vat means we are able to harvest it at optimum ripeness. This level of precision ensures the perfect quality of fruit necessary for the production of exceptional wines.

The total vatting time, established by tasting, varies from 16 to 28 days, depending on the tannic development in the fermenting wines.
The temperature of fermentation never exceeds 28°C to guarantee preservation of the finesse and fruitiness.
The selection of press wine is performed “barrel by barrel“ allowing a wider choice range during the blend tastings.

 

Following consultation with our oenologist, Eric BOISSENOT, the wines are blended only a few months after harvest, to achieve a better harmonisation of the tannins and plot origins.

The wines are aged in French oak barrels, of which 60% are renewed each year. They are racked in the age-old way every 3 months. During this essential 20-month maturation period, the cellar is maintained at 15°C and the ambient humidity is carefully controlled so that the qualities of each vintage may be exalted.

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