Bordeaux 2015 Harvest: Jean-Christophe Mau Reports
I have quite a few vintage sound-bites, from the likes of David Suire (Château Larcis Ducasse), Thomas Duroux (Château Palmer) and Philippe Dhalluin (Château Mouton-Rothschild) lined up for publication. First though, here is a harvest report not long received from Jean-Christophe Mau of Château Brown. Why feature another second-hand report, you might ask, when I have so much lined up from my time in Bordeaux last week? The answer to that is simple; Jean-Christophe has always displayed a refreshing candour in his vintage reports, telling it like it was in difficult vintages such as 2013 and 2012. They are free of excess and hyperbole. They’re always worth a read.
“Our grape-pickers finally emerged from the vines on 13 October, under glorious sunshine, after 3 weeks of successive selective harvests of the red grapes (beginning on 21 September). We began picking the Cabernet Sauvignon in waves on 5 October, based on the weather conditions and the levels of maturity observed – the plot-by-plot division of our vineyard demands a precise, customised harvesting schedule.
“Overall, the weather conditions for the harvest have been very satisfactory, almost identical to the conditions we saw in 2014. It could hardly have been worse than in 2012 and 2013, with really complicated harvesting conditions and mixed results”, explains Jean-Christophe Mau (pictured below).
No such difficulties this year, as the harvesters brought in box after box of beautiful, healthy grapes. Even the kids from the primary school next door – who visited the château during the harvest – agreed that “there are no bad bits on the grapes,” and “they’re very sweet.” (!)
The numbers are encouraging: yields which are close to the ten-year average at 45 hl/ha (only slightly more than 2014), in a year which was more generous to the Cabernet Sauvignon vines than the Merlots. The latter saw extensive bunch selection earlier in the season, as a result of the hot, dry conditions in July. The alcohol contents should be naturally high at around 14°, and even 15° for the Petit Verdot.
After three weeks of maceration and pumping over, the results from the first plots to be harvested are very promising: silky tannins, great ripeness and strong colours.
We have now begun stirring the lees of the white wines in the barrel. In light of the excellent quality of the samples tasted so far, and the low yield of the white plots this year, it looks like we will be seeing a strong showing from the château’s grand vin. Sauvignon Blanc will dominate the blend of our 2015 whites, reflecting the replanting operations conducted over the past few years.
To sum up: harvesting conditions which were very nearly perfect, with decent volumes and obvious quality. Now it’s up to us to get the vinification just right for 2015, which is already shaping up to be a vintage of vivid colours and flavours!”