Having finished passed an hour or so with Philippe Dhalluin at Mouton-Rothschild, I hot-footed it over to Château Calon-Ségur. Actually I had spent a little longer than an hour there, and despite my foot being heavy on the pedal to my dismay I turned up at Calon-Ségur quarter of an hour after the time of my appointment.
There was a time, not that long ago, when arriving even a few minutes late – never mind 15 minutes – would have meant that your appointment at this château was forfeit. But times have changed, and my apologies to Vincent Millet (pictured below) were brushed aside. Thanks Vincent! Our greetings over, we headed over to the tasting room where a trio of bottles from the 2011 vintage were waiting for me. After tasting them (full 2011 ‘in-bottle’ report to come – probably next week) our talk naturally turned to 2013.
Me: Please tell me about the 2013 vintage and harvest.
Vincent: The harvest at Calon-Ségur began on October 1st with the Merlots, and we had finished picking all of the Merlots in just four days. Then we waited, watching the Cabernets. By the end of September I had seen that the Cabernets were physiologically ripe, the skins and the pips too, but we wanted a little more sugar. We did not have as much botrytris as elsewhere, because we have more clay in the soils which absorbed more of the moisture (as with the majority of my appointments this chat was conducted in French, and I have a slight niggle that I might have misheard/mistranslated this, so apologies to Vincent if it is wrong).
After a few days we saw that the skin structure on the Cabernets was beginning to degrade, and so we began picking, starting on October 9th, and we had finished by October 13th. The yield is a little low this year, although this depends on the age of the vines. We have 50% young vines and 50% old vines; the young vines gave 50-55 hl/ha, whereas the old vines gave 25 hl/ha. Overall the yield is about 36 hl/ha, which is similar to the level seen in 2012.
Tasting the grapes I found no vegetal character in the Cabernets, and they remind me most of the 2008 vintage, especially the balance. The tannins feel good in the Cabernets and even the Merlot. I think it will be a very heterogeneous vintage, but it will give some surprises in terms of quality. It is not a great vintage like 2009 or 2010, but it is better than expected, and is more like 2008 or 2011.
My thanks to Vincent for his time, and his report on 2013. I left after about half an hour, and made a quick dash – heading south again now – down to Château Cos d’Estournel. My stop there was very brief as I tried to make up lost time, and I focused purely on tasting the 2011s. Then it was onto Château Montrose, from where I will make my next 2013 report.
These early Bordeaux 2013 reports are essentially funded by Winedoctor subscribers, the first purpose of this latest trip to Bordeaux having been to taste 2011s for a forthcoming report on that vintage. If you find these reports interesting, please consider taking out a subscription to Winedoctor.