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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.
After quite a warm and rainy winter, an early budburst, and a fast and homogeneous flowering, cautious vine-growers and winemakers experienced a slow véraison.
Once again the weather was good to us: all seasonal vineyard tasks in the first part of the year that are now part of our usual routine (such as getting rid of base bud shoots, leaf pruning, “échardage” (i.e. getting rid of laterals shoots specifically located in the cluster area), green harvest), could not compensate for the cool temperatures of the beginning of the summer. We began to doubt that we could produce a wine as great as vintage 2014. We desperately needed more sun and warmer temperatures…
From the end of August on, average temperatures came back to normal, and a very hot and sunny September led to mature grapes and soft tannins, thanks to a sound and healthy vineyard. Hence, a harvest of high quality.
Our doubts disappeared thanks to an exceptional late season. We started the 2014 harvest with a large smile.
Hervé Martin, Vineyard Manager at the estate since 1986, organized everything and we started harvesting on September 25th with the young Merlot vines and finished on October 15th with the old plots of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Harvesting over four weeks made it possible to harvest each lot at perfect maturity.
Merlot: September 25th, 26th , 30th & October 1st
Cabernet Franc: October 6th
Cabernet Sauvignon: from October 7th until October 15th (with several breaks)
Bordeaux Vintage 2014 - is not a great vintage like 2005, 2009 or 2010 but it will be able to secure a position as one of the very good vintages of Bordeaux.
Generally scheduled between the end of March and the beginning of April, Primeur Week in Bordeaux is always an exciting time because it allows a first glimpse of the latest vintage. The sheer number of wines available for tasting is impressive and a week almost seems short. This is why the Union de Grands Crus offers a well-organized blind tasting for the press every morning of the week. The previous weekend, the Grand Cercle des vins de Bordeaux organizes blind tastings of more than 200 samples. These impressions are supplemented by tastings in different Châteaux and tastings organized by the Bordeaux trade. Therefore, some wines may be tasted twice or even more often during this week to check quality and style.
An interesting fact is the weather situation. Low weather pressure means wines can close, while high weather pressure presents wines in a more open and flavorful style. This year the wheat was pretty bad during the first few days of the tasting week, but improved a lot in the second half of the week. This had an influence on the tasting notes in general which must be taken into account. Another effect was the late harvest in 2014, which shortened the period between harvest and early tastings by up to a month. A month less time for maturation has effects on the tasting results, which is another aspect to consider, always keeping in mind that each tasting result remains a snapshot and is not an absolute judgment and definitive.
The year 2014 started early with bud burst about 10 days before the average of the last 10 years. At the end of May, flowering began on the first terroirs in heterogeneous conditions, while the later grape varieties such as Cabernet-Sauvignon and Franc as well as the later terroirs benefited from a warm and sunny period at the beginning of June. July and August were quite cool and wet and in the second half of August the winegrowers prepared for an even worse vintage than 2013 but at the end of August everything changed. A splendid Indian summer in September and October saved the quality. The harvest began for the white grapes three days later than in 2012 but two weeks later than in 2011. For the red grapes, the harvest began with the Merlot at the end of September and ended with the Cabernets in the second fortnight of October. The cool climate during summer provides higher acidity, the Indian summer is responsible for good ripening.
The dry white wines are of very good quality showing crisp acidity and ripe flavors. Noble sweet white wines also benefit from the higher acidity balancing the opulent sweetness. Therefore, this vintage looks more elegant. The presentation of red wines depends a lot on the grape varieties and terroirs. Overall, the red wines are at a higher level of quality than the previous three vintages. Saint-Emilion is excellent on the limestone plateau and generally shows very good wines.
In Pomerol, the center of the plateau was advantageous over the surrounding areas. Fronsac was a very positive surprise for 2014. In the Médoc, the southern part turned out to be more heterogeneous than the northern part, where especially Saint-Estèphe was homogeneous and excellent. South of Bordeaux, Pessac-Léognan presented a very homogeneous image of a very good level of quality with exceptional wines from Haut Brion and La Mission Haut Brion.
One final observation: this vintage digests oak wonderfully. Oak is not even evident in wines with 100% new oak barrels for maturation. Now there are about twelve months left for the maturation of the 2014s until bottling in 2016. A lot can happen during this period. Let's see how the wines will present themselves after bottling, it will again be a very interesting tasting. 2014 is not a great vintage like 2005, 2009 or 2010 but it will be able to secure a position as one of the very good vintages of Bordeaux.
by Markus del Monego MW