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Bordeaux 2013: Medoc chateaux lifted by Cabernet harvest

Several Medoc wine chateaux are upbeat on the state of their 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon harvest, as picking draws to a close earlier than expected.

The last chateaux to bring in their Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot include Chateaux Montrose, Lafite Rothschild, Prieuré Lichine and Léoville Las Cases. All are due to finish by 16 October.

Chateau Lynch Bages brought in its final grapes late on Sunday night, while Chateau Meyney in Saint Estephe expects the last Cabernets in by the end of this week.

It’s been a tough year for many, with a late Bordeaux 2013 harvest raising the spectre of rot induced by cooler, damper autumn weather. Yet, a more upbeat mood is developing among some.

‘We are looking at a vintage that is somewhere close to 2004 or 2007 in profile, even 2008, which for us was a very successful year,’ Hervé Berland, director of Chateau Montrose in Saint Estephe, told decanter.com.

‘The Cabernets are reaching natural alcohol potential of 13-13.5%, so we will have no need to chaptalise. All harvest we have only chaptalised two early tanks of Merlot.’

‘Late-ripening terroirs may have avoided the rot, because the grapes were higher in acidity during the humidity of late September,’ Hubert de Bouard, owner of Chateau Angélus and wine consultant to several estates including Chateau Meyney, told decanter.com.

‘But they have had trouble reaching full ripeness, so have needed to be left on the vine as long as possible.’

Over in Pessac Léognan, Smith Haut Lafitte is bringing in the last grapes this week. Winemaker Fabien Teitgen highlighted good maturity on reds. ‘Malic acids are high, so the secondary fermentation will be crucial.’

In Saint Emilion, however, Merlot picking at Chateau La Fleur Cardinale only began this week. ‘Our terroir is naturally late-ripening,’ said its communications head, Caroline Decoster.

‘All year we prepare our soils for ripening the grapes slowly, such as by growing grass between the rows and thinning out the bunches to ensure good aeration. This year it has really paid off.’

Pickers at Le Dome are still gathering Merlot and expect to start the Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon this week.

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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