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Harvesting is by hand, with skilled pickers passing through the vineyards on up to 6 separate occasions looking for individual berries that have succumbed to noble rot. On arrival at the cellars, they are further examined on a sorting table to eliminate all but the very best. Following a very gentle pressing, the super-rich must is slowly fermented in tank at cool temperatures under the action of indigenous yeasts. Fermentation comes to an end naturally once alcohol levels become to high for these yeasts, leaving considerable residual sugar. The young wine is racked into barrel for 18 months ageing before fining and bottling. 50% of the Haut-Bergeron barrels are new oak. Fontebride is a second wine, made with the same care and dedication, but blended from lots which are judged not quite up to Haut-Bergeron's high standards.
Since 1996, the estate has vinified a small parcel of 100 year old vines separately. Fermentation is in 100% new oak barrels and can last up to 60 days. Ageing continues in new oak for 30 months before bottling.
Haut-Bergeron displays an appealing deep amber gold colour, with good legs. The nose is intense, rich but fresh, combining apricot jam, overripe peaches, nectarines and pineapple with spicy, honey and floral notes. In the mouth, super-concentrated ripe stone fruit is held in place by crisp, spring-fresh acidity. There is a succulent honeyed viscosity, but the palate never cloys. Finishing with a drier, spicy complexity, the length is long and clean.
In Bordeaux, the heat resulted in early flowering. Also, this led to an early harvest after a very hot summer. As a starting point, there is great maturity in the grapes, and one can expect a more opulent vintage than in the last few years.
The summer this year has been the warmest since 1959, yet the rain has fallen at the right times during the growing season. The harvest took place two weeks before the norm and will yield grapes with high potential alcohol and the lowest acidity since the 2003 vintage. As they say in Bordeaux: "It has been a good and extreme growing season which hopefully also produces great wines".