Whilst I’m here at Le Pin, in between winemaking duties I am spending a little time with some of our other favourite producers and seeing how they are handling the vintage – notably Frederic Faye at Figeac and Marielle Cazaux at La Conseillante.
Both seem very happy with the vintage to date but have followed slightly different picking plans; however this was mainly due to differing grape varieties rather than any form of reaction to the weather.
Marielle seems very pleased indeed with all the fruit which came in prior to the rain – although it must be said she does have the luxury of the options to allow her to do this. As mentioned on my last blog one of the problems of picking pre-rain was the heat. The last thing you want is hot grapes being crushed and destemmed and into the vats for the ferment as it can drive away primary fruit characters, allow increased oxidation and also result in a very short ferment... not allowing the maximum flavours and mature tannins to be gently extracted over a longer period of fermentation time. Marielle chills the harvested fruit in refrigerated containers overnight to bring the temperature down to 12 or 13 degrees before processing the fruit. She then has another little secret technique of draining off the juice from the tank and chilling this even further overnight, to around 7 degrees, before pouring back into the skins the next day. This will again maintain primary fruit characters and freshness, but also some think it fixes colour more effectively as well. This will prevent fermentation kicking off for a few days and allow a period of cold soak.
Frederic at Figeac picked at various stages, both prior to the rain and after. He also picked some slightly under-ripe young vine fruit to give him the option of blending in a proportion of very fresh and slightly acid dominated wine into the final blend if required, as given the long period of heat experienced prior to harvest all knew that the key to 2019 will be balancing freshness and primary fruit with richness, ripeness and higher alcohol levels. He also likes to keep the grapes and must cold prior to the ferment starting, giving each tank around 7 days pre-fermentation cold soak, again concentrating on primary fruit and freshness.
Both seem excited and a little nervous about 2019...excited for the quality and ripeness of the fruit being picked, nervous as to the question of whether the market and wine drinkers can take another excellent vintage from Bordeaux following the run of 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
At Le Pin all grapes have now been harvested, with the tiny amount of Cabernet Franc being the last to come in last Thursday. More to come on the activities here at Le Pin shortly!