2014 Harvest Report – Domaine de l’Arlot (Burgundy)

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After the spectacular film of the Pichon Baron harvest, I thought the best way to give you some idea of how things went in the other properties would be to talk to the individual directors of each property and ask them to give us their view on how things went in 2014.

I asked Jacques Devauges at Domaine de l’Arlot (Burgundy) for his impressions of the harvest.

“For Arlot, conditions were generally favourable: early and sunny spring (though there was an episode of hail on the 28th at Vosne); summer was mixed (from the end of July to the end of August there was rain and some relatively cool weather).

But the famous wind from the north in the month of September that has saved many harvests in Burgundy was there on time in 2014! With a very dry sunny weather, not too hot, we had good conditions for finishing the ripening of the grapes. This north wind was also favourable to an important concentration in the grapes, and the bunches which were swollen and shiny at the end of August took on a different and more favourable aspect, matt and concentrated.

Date of the harvest:
We harvested in two phases this year in order to profit to the maximum from the wonderful conditions for ripening.
The whites were harvested the 11th and 12th September.
Then after a two day pause we brought in our reds from the 15th to the 20th of September, under a radiant sunshine, apart from a short rainy episode on the 19th September.

The harvest:
A good harvest, significantly more than in 2012 and 2013, although still a little lower than a “normal” year: our average yield over the whole domaine was 30hl/ha.
The quality of the white grapes was excellent: very healthy grapes, golden yellow and aromatic, though with fairly low amount of juice in relation to the rest of the harvest.
The Pinot Noirs had suffered the most from the summer conditions: there were a few appearances of Botrytis, but which were dried and stabilized by the excellent conditions of the month of September.
The level of millerandage was average, and essentially present in our old vines.
The analytic parameters of sugar and acidity were good, with natural degrees between 12.5 and 13.2, in white and reds.

The fermentations:
The fermentations began this year fairly quickly, but took place in a harmonious and regular fashion.
The reds remained in vat between 15 and 18 days.
At decuvage and after some days in barrels, the wines already showed complex and smooth aromas. In the mouth there is good matter, and the textures are sweet. These are wines that offer great depth and sensuality. We are headed for a very lovely vintage, but we will know more after the malolactic fermentations, probably in spring 2015.
For the whites, the alcoholic fermentations are not yet finished. One notices already a very lovely freshness, purity and rigour. En bouche they are well constructed, around an energetic frame. But even more than with the reds, we will have to be patient, and wait for the end of the fermentations.

To conclude:
2014 which began very early and looked like it would be very advanced, in fact slowed down its progress in August, only to finish in excellent conditions in September. The wines should be of a very high level.
The quantities we produced after several years of very low harvests are (almost) normal.”

2014 Harvest Report – Château Petit-Village (Pomerol)

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After the spectacular film of the Pichon Baron harvest, I thought the best way to give you some idea of how things went in the other properties would be to talk to the individual directors of each property and ask them to give us their view on how things went in 2014.

Marielle Cazaux, Château Petit-Village, Pomerol:

“The excellent arrière saison of this vintage enabled us to harvest à la carte. We were able to wait for the skins to become finer and for the pips to ripen gently.
We began the Merlots on 23 September for the parcels of younger vines. The older vine Merlots were harvested between the 28th and the 30th September. Finally the Cabernets Franc and Sauvignon were harvested on the 6th and 8th October.
The aromatic profile of the Merlots is about freshness for the younger parcels, and ripe fruit for the older vines. We have a lovely concentration of tannins and the post fermentation maceration gave a lot of depth to the wines. The Cabernets are seductive and very well structured. Their maceration finished just recently.
This is a very lovely vintage, with beautiful equilibrium in the wine. Young wood will be integrated at around 50 to 60% to preserve the fruit. Yields were pretty low at 30 hectolitres per hectare, but the quality is there!”

“The excellent arrière saison of this vintage enabled us to harvest à la carte. We were able to wait for the skins to become finer and for the pips to ripen gently.

We began the Merlots on 23 September for the parcels of younger vines. The older vine Merlots were harvested between the 28th and the 30th September. Finally the Cabernets Franc and Sauvignon were harvested on the 6th and 8th October.

The aromatic profile of the Merlots is about freshness for the younger parcels, and ripe fruit for the older vines. We have a lovely concentration of tannins and the post fermentation maceration gave a lot of depth to the wines. The Cabernets are seductive and very well structured. Their maceration finished just recently.

This is a very lovely vintage, with beautiful equilibrium in the wine. Young wood will be integrated at around 50 to 60% to preserve the fruit. Yields were pretty low at 30 hectolitres per hectare, but the quality is there!”

2014 Harvest Report – Château Suduiraut (Sauternes)

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After the spectacular film of the Pichon Baron harvest, I thought the best way to give you some idea of how things went in the other properties would be to talk to the individual directors of each property and ask them to give us their view on how things went in 2014.

Here is Pierre Montégut of Château Suduiraut, Sauternes:

“The excellent arrière saison of this vintage enabled us to harvest à la carte. We were able to wait for the skins to become finer and for the pips to ripen gently.
We began the Merlots on 23 September for the parcels of younger vines. The older vine Merlots were harvested between the 28th and the 30th September. Finally the Cabernets Franc and Sauvignon were harvested on the 6th and 8th October.
The aromatic profile of the Merlots is about freshness for the younger parcels, and ripe fruit for the older vines. We have a lovely concentration of tannins and the post fermentation maceration gave a lot of depth to the wines. The Cabernets are seductive and very well structured. Their maceration finished just recently.
This is a very lovely vintage, with beautiful equilibrium in the wine. Young wood will be integrated at around 50 to 60% to preserve the fruit. Yields were pretty low at 30 hectolitres per hectare, but the quality is there!”

“At Suduiraut the harvest ended on 30th October, with a fourth trie. We began early on the 12th September with a trie designed to clear up the vineyard, which took a long time but was very unproductive, (less than 1 hl/ha). We had a mixture of Botrytis and passerillage, a situation which continued during the second trie at the beginning of October. The proportion of Botrytis increased as we picked.

Rain and humidity then favoured the development of a new generation of Botrytis, but the concentration happened slowly, and we harvested very selectively, parcel by parcel, often picking grape by grape and only one or two days per week. This third trie was drawn out, lasting from 15th October to 24th October.

Magnificent hot and sunny weather after the 22nd finally resulted in some profound concentration, and we finished the final trie between the 27th and 30th October.

In terms of quality, we are very happy with the wines, with a great diversity of style and richness between the different tries, but the principal characteristic of the 2014 will be its freshness with very low PHs, of the kind we have not seen for over ten years. So, a great year in terms of quality, but unfortunately the bad news is the quantity, which is very low: we finished with a total harvest of between 6 and 7 hectoliters per hectare.

It is worth noting that the dry white, the ‘S de Suduiraut’, will also be one of the best we have made since 2004.”

Harvest Time at Château Pichon Baron

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I begin this short series of harvest reports with the results of a day’s filming at Pichon Baron on the fourth day of picking. As is fairly evident, morale was high, after an extraordinary few weeks of perfect sunny weather that enabled us to harvest grapes in wonderful condition.

If you have trouble watching this video, view the web version here

The 30th Marathon du Médoc: the World’s Healthiest Marathon?

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Last Saturday was the 30th Marathon du Medoc. As usual we had a big Pichon Baron team,  with many distinguished runners including Jamie Goode, whose blog on the run you can read by clicking here,  and Yves Bruno the butcher from Pauillac, perhaps the thinnest and fastest butcher in the world, who was second in his category “V2M” in 2h53m42s and 2nd fastest on the Pichon Baron team.  I would also like to give a special mention to Patrice Taris who was the 1st of our runners to finish in 2h45m52s and Cédric Zilligen who was 3rd with a time of 3h38m22s.  The fastest of our lady runners was Céline Nicolle with a very respectable time of 4h10m35s.
Photo butcher
Caption “Yves Bruno the butcher from Pauillac”
As usual there was a joyous party atmosphere. I love this event – it hardly seems right to call it a race, as though many people train hard and run great times, the majority of participants are there just to have fun – because it is a celebration of the truth which seems self-evident if you participate in the event, that wine is a natural and healthy part of a balanced life, in the same way as exercise and physical fitness. The ambiance is festive without being excessive, and indeed how could it be otherwise for thousands of people who are running 42 kilometres on the day. There is an excellent rate of participation from the chateaux, many of whom offer tastings of their wine to the runners, along with more conventional marathon refreshments such as water, glucose and bananas. Personally I avoided the bananas.
The day was especially enjoyable for me as I was joined by my son Alexander at kilometre 18 where he had been waiting for me at Château Pibran with many members of the team from Pichon Baron who were serving Pibran to all the runners who cared to stop for a taste.
Photo CS and Alexander
Caption “Here is Alexander running alongside me.”
We carried on until kilometre 21, when I called it a day. I had a lunch to host at Pichon Baron, and some members of our team get back rather fast. Well that is my excuse for just enjoying the first half of the marathon, and I am sticking to it. We then walked across the vines to the garden of Pichon Baron, and welcomed the members of our team as they progressively came in.
It was a wonderful day, and as always a triumphant affirmation of the idea that a reasonable balanced approach to the pursuit of pleasure and to the enjoyment of physical fitness makes perfect sense, and a great deal more sense than a radical, puritan attitude to either subject. Everyone present had of course spent long hours training hard in order to be there, but the festive and happy atmosphere of the day showed that there is no incompatibility with that fact and with the idea that good wine and good company are part of the joy of life.

Last Saturday was the 30th Marathon du Médoc. As usual we had a big Pichon Baron team, with many distinguished runners including Jamie Goode, whose blog on the run you can read by clicking here, and Yves Bruno the butcher from Pauillac, perhaps the thinnest and fastest butcher in the world, who was second in his category “V2M” in 2h53m42s and 2nd fastest on the Pichon Baron team. I would also like to give a special mention to Patrice Taris who was the 1st of our runners to finish in 2h45m52s and Cédric Zilligen who was 3rd with a time of 3h38m22s.  The fastest of our lady runners was Céline Nicolle with a very respectable time of 4h10m35s.

Yves Bruno, the butcher from Pauillac
Yves Bruno, the butcher from Pauillac

As usual there was a joyous party atmosphere. I love this event – it hardly seems right to call it a race, as though many people train hard and run great times, the majority of participants are there just to have fun – because it is a celebration of the truth which seems self-evident if you participate in the event, that wine is a natural and healthy part of a balanced life, in the same way as exercise and physical fitness. The ambiance is festive without being excessive, and indeed how could it be otherwise for thousands of people who are running 42 kilometres on the day. There is an excellent rate of participation from the chateaux, many of whom offer tastings of their wine to the runners, along with more conventional marathon refreshments such as water, glucose and bananas. Personally I avoided the bananas.

The day was especially enjoyable for me as I was joined by my son Alexander at kilometre 18 where he had been waiting for me at Château Pibran with many members of the team from Pichon Baron who were serving Pibran to all the runners who cared to stop for a taste.

Here is Alexander running alongside me.
Here is Alexander running alongside me.

We carried on until kilometre 21, when I called it a day. I had a lunch to host at Pichon Baron, and some members of our team get back rather fast. Well that is my excuse for just enjoying the first half of the marathon, and I am sticking to it. We then walked across the vines to the garden of Pichon Baron, and welcomed the members of our team as they progressively came in.

It was a wonderful day, and as always a triumphant affirmation of the idea that a reasonable balanced approach to the pursuit of pleasure and to the enjoyment of physical fitness makes perfect sense, and a great deal more sense than a radical, puritan attitude to either subject. Everyone present had of course spent long hours training hard in order to be there, but the festive and happy atmosphere of the day showed that there is no incompatibility with that fact and with the idea that good wine and good company are part of the joy of life.