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Bordeaux 2013: Estates upbeat as dry whites harvest begins

Early signs at Bordeaux estates including Chateau d'Yquem and Cos d'Estournel point to a good quality 2013 harvest for Bordeaux's dry white wines and Sauternes, but producers need the sun to stick around.

Chateau Guiraud began picking its first Sauvignon Blanc for dry white on 19 September, while grapes for Y d’Yquem started coming in this week.

It is a similar story for many properties in Pessac Léognan, from Domaine de Chevalier to La Tour Martillac. In the Médoc, the first Sauvignons for Cos d’Estournel Blanc also came in this week. Potential alcohol levels are currently around 12.5-13%.

‘On the whole, the dry white harvest is looking good, with high aromatics and clean ripe fruit,’ said Pascal Chattonet, owner of Chateau La Sergue in Lalande-de-Pomerol and consultant at many properties across the region, including Cos d’Estournel and Chateau d’Issan.

‘Most Sauvignon Blanc will be finished by next week, but Sémillon is still not ripe, with a potential alcohol of between 10.5 and 11%, and needs an extended period of dry sunny weather,’ he told decanter.com.

‘With the recent sunshine, our Sémillons have added 1% of potential alcohol in the past 36 hours alone,’ said Aymeric de Gironde, who is overseeing his first harvest as director of Cos d’Estournel. ‘We’re feeling confident about the quality, and will begin picking them by the end of the weekend.’

In Sauternes, the botrytis pressure is good, also raising expectations of a good quality harvest, but again the Sémillon needs to ripen more fully before noble rot sets in. ‘The ideal time for concentration to begin is when there is at least 12% potential alcohol,’ said Xavier Planty, of Chateau Guiraud.

Several winemakers, contacted this week, said that chaptalisation may be used for some of the whites grapes, particularly Sémillon.

For the Bordeaux reds, a 20% drop in quantity is still predicted versus 2012. Merlot is expected to begin early October, and Cabernet Sauvignon in mid-October.

‘Everything depends on if the current sunny weather holds,’ Chattonet said

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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