2014, a great vintage miraculously saved
The story of the 2014 vintage started in an atmosphere of worry and concern.
We were expecting the worst but a miracle took place: an incredible Indian summer which gave light to a certain optimism in the place of more somber predictions. Indeed, September proved to be a source of joy for the vignerons of the region with its perfect warn and breezy weather.
A great vintage? To be honest, it is too soon to make such claims but we can say that it already displays certain qualities which might one day allow it to claim greatness.
2014 a summary of the vintage
The 2014 vintage started with a very mild spring which gave an early bud-break amongst the vines.
A dry spring was followed by a very warm month of june ensuring harmonious progress in the vineyards, very much in line with what we saw in 2010.From april to june, high temperatures were registered with long sunny spells and a limited amount of rainfall. Consequently the flowering and fruit-setting occureed under excellent conditions. In june, the heat boosted photosynthesis. The result of all this was an accelerated vegetative development. At this stage, the phenolic graph(1st flowering, end of flowering and bunch-setting) was almost identical to that of the 2010 vintage.
From the beginning of july, a cold summer with nasty mood swings has upset the balance and caused problems in the vineyards particularly with a long, drawn-out veraison. The lack of sunshine and below average temperatures combined with significant rainfall and storms forced the vignerons to be extremely vigilant in order to keep mildew and black and grey rot at bay. Another consequence of the inclement weather was swelling in the size of the berries with a lower than average sugar level and an elevated amount of malic acid. This was something we had seen in 2008 vintage. Curiously therefore we had gone from a somewhat forward vintage in the months of april-june to a late-looking vintage due to the cooler summer months.
The initial analysis indicated quite low levels of anthocyanins and tannins – this caused a little concern but since the figures were again in line with the 2008 vintage, there was still reason for hope. The drosophila also made an appearance – a small fly called Susukii. All these things combined with some occurrences of grey rot meant that this was not the most joyous stage of the vintage.
At last, relief followed all this worry. September was hot, summery and breezy and improved the condition of the grapes in a way no one could have hoped for or expected. The difficulty however was how to deal with and eliminate the lack of consistency in the maturity of the berries. The extended Indian summer did allow vignerons to wait patiently. Thanks to the above average temperatures for the season and low rainfall the grapes ripened. The level of antocyanins increased making a good extraction possible, the tannins became more concentrated and the size of the berries decreased as their skins became more refined. As the malic acid also finally reduced, the winemakers rediscovered a spring in their step.
Confidence was high enough to be able to harvest “à la carte” with the picking spread over a long period depending on the different areas. This was particularly the case with the merlots where stalks were red and hard. As for the cabernets, those who allowed themselves to wait until the end of October were already sure that they would be excellent.
The results seen in the vats confirmed all the hopes. Patience had rewarded all the hard work. As much as the vignerons had felt discouraged throughout the year, the winemakers were delighted with the grapes which released fantastic colour. A long period spent in the vats, as much as 30-35 days, confirmed the quality- a large aromatic spectrum indicative of Atlantic freshness, a good concentration without being excessive and soft tannins in the main. Wines with a great deal of charm and capable of giving much pleasure.
2014- a vintage for those who knew to wait and who took the time to listen to their wines.
En Primeur wines from the Bordeaux 2014 vintage here.