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After fermentation, the wine is aged for 12 to 15 months in French oak barrels (made of split oak staves form the forests of Central France) 50% to 70% of the barrels are new and 50% to 30% are one-year old.
Air slowly penetrates through the pores in the wood and gently oxidizes the wine. The oak contributes to the elegance of its tannins. At the same time, the restricted volume of the barrel facilitates the precipitation of the lees over the months.During this ageing process the wine is finely racked, thus separating the clear wine from the lees.
Each racking process is carried out from barrel to barrel and clarity is checked by holding a glass of the wine before a candle. Two cellar workers are responsible for this job throughout the year. When one racking cycle has been completed, it is time to start the next one.
Once aged, the wine is returned to the vats to prepare for bottling. At this point, and to ensure that all bottles are perfectly identical, another assembling operation is carried out: The wine from the new barrels and the wine from the one-year old barrels have aged differently.
The following fining process uses egg whites to clarify and stabilize the wine and any particles precipitate to form a deposit, preventing the sediment being transferred to the bottle.
Bordeaux: After four miserable vintages came the hot vintage of 1975 which briefly put Bordeaux wines in the spotlight once again. The unstable temperature of September turned into good weather for the harvest. The grapes were high in sugar, but many reds, especially those made from Cabernet Sauvignon, lacked phenolic ripeness. This resulted in masculine and even aggressive reds with austere and even harsh tannins.
Wines from Graves and Pomerol turned out to be the most delicious this year. La Mission Haut-Brion and Lafleur-Pétrus stand out as the best, with Trotanoy right after them. Pétrus turned out to be very exceptional with a more aggressive and full-bodied style than usual. The Lafite-Rothschild at the reasonable price of 300 euros is the first Lafite seventies which gives a promise of improvement. On the other hand, Haut-Brion, considered very good, turned out to be a slight disappointment.
For dry whites, it was exceptional and Sauternes was an excellent vintage. The best Sauternes experiences were Yquem, Coutet, Gilette and Suduiraut.