Bordeaux 2013 Vineyard Start September Update

The grapes are in the middle of turning red, or more like purple. It is very comforting to see after all the extremes that this vintage has already had to cope with. From mid veraison you count 45 days and it brings you to the date to start picking your grapes – normally!

Harvest Timing 2013; Pomerol and St Emilion gravels (Figeac/Cheval Blanc will start harvesting their Merlots around 4 October rest of St Emilion around 10 October along with Merlots in the Medoc apart from the limestone plateau which will be mid October. This all dépends on the weather! Whites end of September.

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Cabernet grapes at Cambon La Pelouse, Haut Medoc

The vines have finally stopped growing leaves – we have had the ‘arret de croissance’ when the vine switches from growing to investing into its reproductive fruit. A good sign despite being 2 weeks late.

Deleafing both sides of the bunches of grapes in St Emilion
Deleafing both sides of the bunches of grapes in St Emilion

Deleafing; Many producers particularly in the Medoc are now removing the leaves on the side of the bunches that have the afternoon sun. This is not done too early so that the grapes are not scorched by the hotter sun in the noon. Now we are into September there is little risk of this.The leaves have been already removed in July that shield the grapes from the morning sun. This is a less powerful sunshine. Removing the leaves exposes the grapes to the sun directly and enables a better circulation of air. A second ‘effeuillage’ is an additional cost. There has been very little need for a green harvest this year! Nature has already done one!

The bunches are small for sure particularly the Merlot. Yields will be low.There are green aborted grapes. The Cabernets have been less affected. But the hot sunny weather which has been constant since the beginning of July is doing a good job in ripening the grapes. There is not the catch-up hoped for but we are getting there. Today was the first rainy weather for two months. Sunshine to return next week.

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Fronsac in the early morning light start September

During August we have had hot sunny days (30°C) and cool nights (10°C). The large temperature difference during the day and night are good news for the development of aromas but created dew in the mornings which has caused mildew to form in the new growth of leaves. These have mostly been removed by ‘rognage’ the trimming of the tops of the vines.

The challenges are not over. Now we hear that this is a year when botrytis will be a very high risk. Just what the challenged producers need in a year when we are two weeks behind. It may force their hand to harvest before full ripeness rather than lose all to rot. Fingers crossed for sunshine until the end of October!

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