After exceptional growing conditions throughout the 2015 season, the rain in September has been a challenge for the Bordeaux red harvest - but winemakers remain positive.
Saint-Estèphe has recorded between 50 and 60mm of rain, while Margaux is a little lower at around 40-50mm depending on location, and 58mm recorded overall at the central Mérignac weather station, up to Monday September 21.
This is around three times the rainfall in Bordeaux in September 2014, but still within the September averages. As the vines are in excellent health with thick skins, most winemakers are reporting that there has been very little spread of rot on well-drained soils.
Basile Tesseron at Château Lafon Rochet in Saint-Estèphe told decanter.com, ‘We are quite surprised. By the middle of last week we thought that we would have to begin picking early, but in fact we are just bringing in two small plots of young Merlot vines this week, and the rest of the grapes we will begin on September 28, as planned’.
Christophe Coupez, consultant at OenoCentres in Pauillac, who works with dozens of cru bourgeois and classified estates across the Médoc, said, ‘The few days of rain in mid-August first activated the spores of rot, but they dried up quickly and have remained dry. Producers are quiet right now while they assess the impact of the rains. Most have brought in the young vines but intend to wait until the older vines reach their full ripeness. We still expect a great vintage’.
In Sauternes and Barsac, Denis Dubourdieu, owner of Château Doisy Daënes said that the sweet wine harvest is looking positive; with noble rot spreading and the first round of grapes in the cellars.
‘The dry whites are now all picked, so we can be confident of the quality,’ Dubourdieu said. ‘The grapes for the sweet wine were able to withstand the recent rains very well, and the potential is high’.
The Bordeaux red harvest ‘will find continued rain more troubling,’ he said, ‘but so far those who have ensured good aeration of the vines have no need to worry’.
This is a vintage that promises to be exceptional,’ says Tesseron, ‘but you need to know your vines and your plots very well; and be a good professional to steer it into the cellars’.