Bordeaux 2015: Gabriel Vialard, Haut-Bailly
Now returned from Bordeaux, over the course of the next week or two I will be going back to my visits, with reports from some of the top names in Bordeaux. I start here, down in Pessac-Léognan, and will progress up the Médoc in coming days, before hopping over to the right bank.
One of my first visits during the week was to Château Haut-Bailly. After tasting the grand vin and second wine in the 2013 vintage, both much better than you might imagine for such a difficult vintage, I headed to the cellars to find technical director Gabriel Vialard (pictured below) to find out what he thought of the 2015 vintage.
Me: Can you please tell me a little about 2015?
Gabriel: It has been a Zen vintage. The vines were easy to look after, and we picked at the right time. It is one of the benefits of having a very small but efficient team, and if we had 2015 over again, I would do it the same way. The quality is good. We started by picking the lower parcels, as well as those adjacent to the surrounding forests. These are parcels which give lesser quality, and might often go into the second wine. In 2015, however, the quality in these parcels is just as good as in the better, higher parcels.
Me: When did you start picking?
Gabriel: We started the harvest on September 15th. The timing of the picking was similar to that in 2005 or 2010. We finished with the Cabernets, a little over three weeks later, on October 9th.
Me: What are the yields and potentials like in 2015?
Gabriel: The potentials are good – we are looking at about 14º in the Merlots, and about 13º in the Cabernets. We also have some young Petit Verdot for the first time this year. We planted these vines three years ago, and so this is their first vintage bearing fruit. We wanted to take account of their youth, and so pruned these vines to just one bunch each. The potentials in the Petit Verdot were also about 14º.
As for yields, overall, these are about 42 to 43 hl/ha. We have 50 hl/ha on the Merlots, 35 hl/ha on the Cabernets, and 35 hl/ha on just the old vines. The yields are tiny on the Petit Verdot, obviously.
Me: What else is new at Haut-Bailly in 2015?
Gabriel: We are currently reappraising what direction we go in with our organic vines. We have 6 hectares of vines which, since 2008, have been managed in a purely organic fashion. In truth they are not that different to the rest of the Haut-Bailly vines, in that from the time of flowering to harvest we use only wettable sulphur and copper mixture on all the vines, both permissible within organics anyway. The only difference is between budburst and flowering, when we may use an Aluminium-based chemical if required. Despite this, on the organic vines our crop is half the normal yield – that’s alright if you have young vines producing 30 hl/ha instead of 60 hl/ha, but much of Haut-Bailly is old vines, and yields are already low. In addition, in 2013 the whole lot was declassified into the third wine and sold off. We need to have a think about whether we continue, or stop the organics on these vines.
Me: Thanks Gabriel.
For a report which includes a tasting of some just-fermented samples of the 2015 vintage direct from cuve at Château Haut-Bailly, see this earlier blog post.
These early Bordeaux 2015 reports are essentially funded by Winedoctor subscribers, the first purpose of this latest trip to Bordeaux having been to taste 2013s for a forthcoming report on that vintage. If you find these reports interesting, please consider taking out a subscription to Winedoctor.