Tue 13 Oct 2015

Bordeaux 2015: Checking In

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A quick update from my recent trip to Bordeaux:

Right bank merlot
At Château Pey La Tour in the Entre-deux-Mers the Dourthe team headed by Frédéric Bonaffous was busy with everything but picking! Some of the merlot grapes are in but the cooler (thus higher-trained) vineyards here are still a healthy verdant green and the grapes still maturing happily on the vine.

Grapes on the vine at Pey La Tour

Grapes on the vine at Pey La Tour

A pause at Château Durfort-Vivens in Margaux
All was quiet on our visit to Durfort-Vivens. With the merlot safely in and the weather set fine, there was ample time to prepare harvest and grape reception equipment for the first of the cabernets. A shower or two was forecast for the weekend but with a healthy crop on the vines, bright warm sunny days, cool dry breezes and markedly cool nights there seemed to be no reason for concern.

Indeed there were smiles all round. Owner Gonzague Lurton, just back from harvest at his property in Sonoma (small in quantity, but good quality), was happy and relaxed. Growers can afford to wait, especially those with the best terroirs, and even if the pressure to pick does come, the grapes are looking good enough to produce a very good harvest at least.

Harvest action at Château Branaire-Ducru in Saint-Julien
Sorting tables were busy when we dropped in to see Jean-Dominique Videau at Branaire-Ducru.

Sorting table at Branaire-Ducru

Even with the remarkably healthy-looking grapes coming in, after destemming there are still a few leaves and small stalks to be picked out, all of which is done by hand here. The grapes were small and sweetly flavoured (they don’t always taste so good at this stage!) and the majority of the cabernets yet to be picked are in great condition.

Jean-Dominique Videau and The Society's head of buying, Tim Sykes, at Branaire-Ducru

Jean-Dominique Videau and The Society’s head of buying, Tim Sykes, at Branaire-Ducru

We finished our visit with a tasting of second wine Duluc and several vintages of the grand vin which only served to underline the consistent high quality being produced here, from great (2005) to more modest (2007 & 2004) vintages. Less well known than many crus classés, Branaire tends to be very fairly priced and deserves a greater following in our view.

Joanna Locke MW
Society Buyer

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