I have just, a half-hour ago, finalised my Bordeaux 2016 primeurs timetable. It follows a now well-established trend, with more château visits than ever before. I will even be knocking on cellar doors come Sunday morning.
But, I suppose, so what? Who wants to read about the logistics of such things, of techniques and timetables? All that really matters about a primeurs visit is the condition of the samples. At the châteaux, this should be guaranteed, and I have learnt over the years which generic tastings feature bottles at the right temperature, in the right condition, and are thus worth attending, and which tastings tend to feature tired wines, too warm or even oxidised, and are best avoided.
And I guess all that really matters to buyers is the quality of the wine (or barrel sample, to be correct). While there are a few more days to go before I get stuck into the vintage and form my own opinions, here is what Frédéric Faye (pictured below) of Château Figeac had to say when I called in on him last December.
Me: So what’s new at Figeac?
FF: I think at Figeac we have a renewed aim to increase the focus of the wine, to fine tune it. And there is a lot of work ongoing in the vineyard, with continued turnover and then replanting of a variety of parcels.
Me: And what about 2016?
FF: The 2016 vintage was a journey from hell to paradise. The flowering was good, this being the one week we didn’t have rain. It was rapid too, all done in the space of the week. Otherwise it was very wet all the time at the start of the season. It was a year when good management of the vineyards was very important. Good ploughing of the soils was beneficial.
Me: But things changed in time?
FF: The end of June was when the change came. The weather improved, and it was really warm. But at the same time the nights were cooler, and so we knew it was not going to be like 2003. The drought was sufficient to cause some problems, but only with the young vines, those up to five or six years old. In response to this we picked these earlier, even if they were complanted with older vines. On average I would say we picked them ten days earlier.
Me: What about the harvest?
FF: On the whole we picked later than we would usually. We started on September 23rd, finishing up on October 20th. We had a good yield in the end, so we got both quality and quantity.
Me: Can you say a little more on the style of the vintage?
FF: Well, the malolactic fermentations are not quite finished yet, so it is too early to say any more than that. But the quantity is really amazing.
Me: Thanks again.
These early Bordeaux 2016 reports are essentially funded by Winedoctor subscribers, the first purpose of this latest trip to Bordeaux having been to taste 2014s for a report on that vintage. If you find these reports interesting, please consider taking out a subscription to Winedoctor, for just £4.50 per month (or £45 per annum).