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.”
We are in the middle of the en primeurs tasting season here in Bordeaux, and the atmosphere in the tasting room at Pichon is pretty positive. In spite of the difficulties of the growing season there are some good red wines in 2013, and the Sauternes are lovely. Most of the tasters I have talked to are very glad they came: their role will be invaluable in guiding their readers or their customers through this vintage, and steering them in the direction of the undoubted successes that many chateaux managed to achieve.
I went to China in October for an unusual and exceptional event. I have had the feeling for a couple of years that the time was right for Chinese wine drinkers to discover the great wines of Sauternes. When I first started going to China at the end of the 90s, the wine market was in its infancy. I remember an early Union des Grands Crus tasting where very few people actually turned up. Fifteen years later when we put on an event of that sort in Shanghai or Beijing over one thousand knowledgeable people will be in attendance. The transformation of the scene in a relatively short space of time has been astonishing. But the primary focus has been on red wines, in particular the great Grand Cru wines of Bordeaux.
We decided therefore that it was time to launch the wine of Château Suduiraut in China, and after much reflection decided that an interesting and exciting way to do this would be to commission a work of art from a well known Chinese artist, that would be somehow inspired by Château Suduiraut and its wines and then in partnership with the artist launch both the wines of Château Suduiraut and the work of art, using art as a bridge between the two cultures of France and China.
After much research, we approached the distinguished artist Jiao Xingtao. He liked the idea and came out to Suduiraut.
He is an exceptional person, very likeable and a true free spirit and I liked him very much from the first. He enjoyed his visit to Suduiraut and a few months later came up with an outstanding piece of work inspired by Château Suduiraut and its wines.
Inspired in turn by what he had done, we designed a special label for Château Suduiraut for its launch in China. The label of Château Suduiraut uses the coat of arms of the Suduiraut family, which features two golden lions. Jiao had taken this and transformed the lions, modeled on the Chinese lions in the Beijing summer palace.
We liked this idea and used it on the Chinese label for Château Suduiraut, which is being produced as a limited edition for China in both 75 cl and Magnum format. The wine we chose for the launch was the outstanding 2009 vintage, which I consider to be one of the greatest vintages of Château Suduiraut ever, and so it seemed appropriate that it should be the wine to introduce Château Suduiraut to China.
We also had the name of Château Suduiraut translated into Mandarin.
When spoken in Mandarin this sounds something like Suduiraut, but more importantly means Rising Sun (the first character) Golden (the second character) Château (the third character). I like this name very much. We are particularly keen to communicate in China around the idea that Château Suduiraut is a golden wine. It is exactly its colour, and in addition Gold has strong positive resonances in China as an imperial colour. Well, we can’t just let the red wines have it all their own way.
We had two launches, in Hong Kong and Shanghai, with a huge turnout of top journalists and wine and art collectors, including the great Henry Tang who has done so much for the world of wine in Hong Kong. I was slightly apprehensive about organizing these events as it was the first time we had done something like this, but it was a great success, very enjoyable, and I look forward to working with Jiao again in the future.