Assessment of the 2012 Bordeaux Vintage now its in the barrel

Early unfavourable conditions for the vine which encouraged disease and above all disrupted the flowering, were caught up with exceptionally sunny and dry August and September enabling canny producers to harvest healthy grapes before the deluge of rain towards end October. (Based on a report issued by Euralis experts)

Disturbed Flowering

The first half of the vine’s year was disturbed by the rain. The flowering period was slow and was spread out over three weeks due to the cold, rainfall and the big differences in temperatures. This lead to coulure, millerandage and a late harvest.

Wet beginning of the Summer followed by drought

The heavy rainfall stopped around 15 to 20 July and then there was a drought.

2012 was harvested late in comparison to 2011 but the same time as 2010.

Mildew at Force

There was a large risk of Mildew until the end of July when the risk exploded. Could be controlled by regular spraying. Did not effect quality but yield. The conditions were also favourable for oidium. Due to the dry conditions the risk of botrytis was minimal.


The characteristic of this year was the un-uniform stages of the phenological stages of the vine’s development from the point of flowering. This was very evident at ‘véraison’ when the grapes change from green to red. It took several weeks for all of the grapes to change colour even on the same vine.

The rainfall which was excessive until mid-july, produced much vegetation and large berries.

The essential ‘stress hydrique’ arrived later somewhat brutally with drought conditions during August and September. The vine was able to catch up during these two very sunny months (with almost no rain) and make up for the wet start of the summer.


The very sunny months of August and September enabled the vines to catch up on the ripening process and by mid September alcohol levels were already at 12° (and acidity between 4 and 5). The first white wines were harvested at this time and during the rest of september. The grapes were very healthy.

It was the unripe nature of the pip’s tannins that delayed the red harvest. Most Merlot was harvested from start October until mid October.

Merlot Grapes, St Emilion

Two Periods of Rainfall during Harvest

There were two heavy rainfalls during harvest. One between 21st to 25th September which gave the parched vines a much needed drink (50mm). These rains did bring on the risk of botrytis which had an effect particularly on the Cabernet vines.

The forecasted rain 20 and 21 October meant that most Merlot was harvested before this date (there was not much to gain so late in the year from added ripeness at this point – and much to lose! Those who harvested after this date suffered from dilution (in two days 70 to 80mm fell during two days). The key question this year is did you harvest before the rain, or after? Most Cabernet producers did not have the choice but to harvest later.

It was the sweet wines that suffered the most from these bad conditions. Conditions fortunately improved for them towards the end of October and start November.


Good healthy grapes for the rosés, whites and those that harvested before 20th October. Some whites lacking in acidity but with good aromatic fruity aromas. Low yields particularly for the sauvignons. Good vintage for the reds (particularly Merlots) but still early to say (just finishing malolactic fermentation). Low yields due to coulure, millerandage during flowering and mildew.


Selon la lettre du millésime ; (institut d’oenologie de Bordeaux) les conditions optimums pour l’obtention d’un très bon millésime à Bordeaux sont les suivantes :

• Une floraison et une nouaison précoce et homogène pour prédisposer à une bonne homogénéité de la maturité.

• Une contrainte hydrique s’établissant progressivement après la nouaison grâce à un mois de juillet

chaud et sec, provoquant le ralentissement puis l’arrêt définitif de la croissance de la vigne pendant la


Ce stress modéré permet l’obtention de petites baies et oriente le métabolisme de la plante vers les

métabolismes secondaires favorable à la qualité (synthèse des anthocyanes, des arômes, des

polysaccharides ….).

• Une maturation complète des différents cépages grâce à des mois d’août et septembre suffisamment

secs mais sans chaleurs excessives.

Il faut rappeler que la synthèse des anthocyanes est favorisée par des températures moyennes de l’ordre de 20°C et surtout d’un delta suffisant entre les températures diurnes et nocturne d’un minimum de10°C (nuits fraiches)

• Un beau temps, moyennement chaud et faiblement arrosé pendant les vendanges permettant

d’attendre la maturité optimum de chaque parcelle sans redouter la dilution ou la pourriture.


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