On September 1, our friend Ivanhoe Johnston (who many of you have met at our annual Bordeaux event at the Rice downtown) sent me the flowing information from Bordeaux which I share with you with his permission.
At the end of August, we’d like to give a last update before the harvest:
August in Bordeaux has been fairly dry (+/-20 mm of rain in general) and fairly sunny and hot but not extremely hot. This was very good for the maturation of the white and will likely prevent from having a “too sunny” vintage.
The first white grapes were harvested the last week (August 21-26 with Haut Brion picking on August 22nd) and the first of reds picked this week (August 28 – September 2) even if some real action will begin next week (after September 3).
Most properties will be in full harvest by the week of the September 11 altough in the Medoc most likely the week of the 18th…so this is an early harvest vintage so far running about 10 days ahead of last year (2016).
After some days of extreme temperatures the last 2 week (few day at 30°C and some even over 35°C which raises sugars and makes alcohol potentials increase quickly) , weather should be more normal the next weeks (highs around 24°C) with cold nights (which is extremely good for maintaining acidity).
For those who have not suffered from the spring frosts, there is a nice quantity of grapes but they are rather small with not too much juice which is a reason why people would be pleased with a little of rain.
Still, it all looks very good with the potential of a rich and intense vintage. We all are afraid of a hail strom as it happens around Potensac last Sunday…but apart from that we should do again have at least a very nice vintage.
In other summer Bordeaux news :
Ch. Phelan Segur has been sold with some details still to be finalized but it looks as though the management team will remain in place.
Ch. Troplong Mondot had been sold and Aymeric de Gironde (former GM of Cos d’Estournel) will now run the property.
Ch. Berliquet has been taken over by Canon but the wines will be kept separate (here again some details are not yet final).
Due primarily to the spring frosts, total 2017 production is forecast down 41% in Bordeaux but, due to their superior terroir, many of the top château are far less affected.
On July 24, 2017 Ivanhoe Johnston provided the following:
As most of you know, Bordeaux has been quite affected by the frost at end of April. This as a massive impact on the global quantity that Bordeaux will produce but has little or no impact at this stage on the potential quality of the vintage.
Here is a closer look at the situation, area by area:
Medoc: most of properties along the Gironde Estuary were not affected by the frost because they were “protected” by the warmer water. Therefore most classified growths from the Medoc are ok, especially with their first wines (grand vin) that are usually mainly done on the best terroir. Their second wines may be more seriously affected. Property like Lagrange for example suffered more on terroir for the Fiefs de Lagrange. Properties like Poujeaux, Chasse Spleen, Camensac, and Latour Carnet that are further from the river were more affected. Ch. Mauvesin Barton will not have a crop.
Pessac is fine even if Pape Clement had been affected. Leognan was more affected with Fieuzal suffering heavily this year.
St Emilion: The plain (lower lying and closer to the Dordogne) is heavily affected as well as the area of Corbin (with almost no crop left) but the plateau is mostly fine. Of the major names, the most affected, as far as we know, are Canon Gaffeliere and to a lesser lesser extent Figeac & Cheval Blanc.
Pomerol: In general, the plateau is fine but the rest of the appellation is heavily affected. Lower lying chateaux such as like La Pointe and Taillefer were really strongly affected.
If we speak only about the chateaux that had no frost, situation is quite nice. Flowering went well with potential quantities looking good (maybe slightly less than last year but it is too early to say with certainty). Veraison has started. Here and there people did a light green harvest and only light leaf thinning to avoid sun-burned grapes.
It is likely to be a early harvest, which is rather a good sign for quality. Some whites are likely to be picked the week of August 20th and some reds by the 4th of September. This early harvest might offer the one who suffer more of the frost to harvest some “2nd crop” grapes in the middle of October so there can be a delay of a +/- one month the general harvest and a potential second harvest from recovering frost affected vineyards.
Some of the growers say that things are now looking good but the weather over the next two months will ultimately determine the quality of the vintage.
The Bordeaux weather forecast is now predicting a rather hot and dry August and a “normal” September.