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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.
Afterward, it is always easy to explain qualities of a vintage: At first, the 2012 vintage was to be difficult: whether our oceanic climate would have been forgotten in the last few years, we’ve been definitely reminded of our location, which is indeed rather good to produce great quality wines, but sometimes also quite humid.
The vineyard had seldom needed such an amount of work, and all along the season, we kept going all through the vineyard. On the first 2 weeks of July, to compete the lack of sun, over 140 people came to “écharder” 100% of the vineyard.
End of August, as we wanted to definitely homogenize the maturity, it’s been decided to “clean” clusters from each single still green and pink berry, in order to only keep the best.
Finally, thanks to such a precise work and naturally low yields, maturity was reached only 1 week later than usual.
White wine with AltO de Cantenac Brown
Whites have been picked by hand on September 12th in perfect sound conditions. They are aromatic, round and fresh.
After fermentation, AltO is as good as we had hoped with lots of flavors and a nice acidity. Fermentations and maturation in 1-year-old barrels will bring fullness.
Red wines with Château Cantenac Brown and BriO,
Each single day, vinestock after vinestock and bunch by bunch, vintners made even better from what Mother Nature had given. Even if some rains at the end of September araised some doubts, the knowledge and experience of our technical team made it possible to keep cold blood. We started harvesting Merlots on October 1st, and finished Cabernets Sauvignons on October 17th. Even if botrytis had be seen in the vineyard, it didn’t disturb our decision on what lot to harvest and when. Deleafing and optimized sun exposure of the clusters have been particularly favorable.
All grapes have been sorted carefully: First by hand, cluster by cluster, on tables in front of the vat room. Then sorted again, berry by berry, between destemmer and crusher, also by hand or through optical sorting machine. Only good grapes entered into the fermentation vats.
We got cheered up by the first pumping overs. First juices were deep colored and had soft tannins. And after ageing and tastings, relief changed to enthusiasm.
2012 is a very good vintage, you’ll get surprised!
Percentage of the harvest
Château Cantenac Brown 50%
Château Cantenac Brown : 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot
BriO de Cantenac Brown : 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc
Château Cantenac Brown : 60% new barrels
BriO de Cantenac Brown : 25% new barrels
The 2012 Bordeaux vintage report.
The 2012 Bordeaux vintage is a year for vineyard management and workers. Call it a winemakers vintage, or change your tune and call it vineyard managers vintage. Either descriptor works perfectly. Wineries with the financial capacity to take the necessary measures in the vineyards during the season, coupled with the willingness to severely downgrade unripe grapes, will produce the best wines. Even then, it will be a difficult vintage with small quantities of wine. From start to finish, the 2012 Bordeaux vegetative season and harvest were stressful for the winemakers, the vines and with the grapes being vinified, the winemakers.
The 2012 Bordeaux vintage did not get off to a good start. After a cold winter and a wet spring, the April rains soaked the Bordeaux wine region. After the April rains, there were outbreaks of mildew, which required spraying. The month of May was warmer than April. Things calmed down a bit in June. All this resulted in late and uneven flowering. This resulted in small clusters of berries that ripened at different times, lowering quantities and requiring serious work in the vines and intensive sorting at harvest.
Although a growing season is never over until it is, uneven flowering never bodes well. Late flowering pushed back the entire vintage by 2 to 3 weeks, depending on the château. Generally speaking, late harvests are not generally a harbinger of good things to come.
If everything that happened up to the end of June didn't offer what happened next offered additional challenges with the 2012 Bordeaux vintage. After an average July, Bordeaux experienced a heat wave torrid weather and drought in August and September which stressed the vines, particularly the young vines. At one point, temperatures soared to 42 degrees Celsius, or 107 degrees! Other days crossed 100 degrees. It was extremely hot and dry. The vines stopped and the vintage was on track to be even later than expected. Towards the end of September, things improved with the much-hoped-for combination of warm days, cool nights and desperately needed rain, which helped nourish the vines. The first few days of October offered reasonably warm temperatures during the day, coupled with cooler weather at night for growers with Merlot ready to pick.
In the Médoc, you had to hurry and wait. Tom Petty could have exploded with “Waiting is The Hardest Part” because producers had to wait because Cabernet Sauvignon had difficulty maturing. It was already October. Conventional wisdom says that at one point there was little to gain by waiting and more to lose, so the 2012 Bordeaux harvest began to take place. Some estates began picking young Merlot in late September, but most held back until around October 1, and a few producers waited a week or more. Most growers brought in all their fruit by mid-October.
Pomerol is usually the first appellation to harvest, due to their Merlot dominated vines. It is interesting to note that the picking took place simultaneously on the left bank on October 1st. Many properties in Pessac Léognan started their harvest before Pomerol. Château Haut Brion began work on their young Merlot vines on September 17th and Château Haut Bailly was not far behind, with a start date of September 27th. Most castles were in the thick of things on October 4, although Domaine de Chevalier waited until October 8.
While the pleasant, cooler weather was initially forecast to continue, on October 8 things changed quickly when massive amounts of rain fell across the entire Bordeaux region. With accompanying temperatures in the mid-60s and higher in some areas, winemakers were concerned about the potential for Botrytis, due to the humid tropical conditions. At this point, the fruit had to be picked, regardless of the state of ripeness. Like last year with the 2011 Bordeaux vintage, maturation was uneven. It wasn't just the bunches that weren't ripening, individual grapes in bunches reached varying degrees of ripeness, making sorting more important than ever. Optical sorting was used more than ever with the 2012 Bordeaux harvest.