A Harvest Visit to Château Brown, 2012

I recently wrote of my harvest-time visits to Château Sociando-Mallet, where I had my first taste of the unfermented juice of this vintage, and to Château Preuillac, when I walked and tasted nearly-ripe fruit in the vineyard with Frédéric Massie, one of Stéphane Derenoncourt’s associate consultants. For the third in this short series of 2012 harvest reports I travel south, beyond the city of Bordeaux, to Pessac-Léognan. My destination today is Château Brown.

My visit to meet Jean-Christophe Mau at Château Brown was on October 3rd, the day before my visits to Sociando-Mallet and Preuillac. Unlike the hectic activity I found on my arrival at Sociando-Mallet, here the vineyards were in a state of bucolic repose. The harvest of the white grapes had finished some days earlier, and Jean-Christophe was still waiting for the optimal moment to begin picking the red grapes. In fact the only activity out among the vines was in a small section close to the centre of the vineyard, where a lone figure seemed to be stripping several rows of vines of all their foliage. It was too early for the start of winter pruning (to delay picking until the winter pruning – now that would be a late harvest!) and on closer inspection it was also clear that the stripping of leaves and branches – leaving just the trunk of the vine – was more than simple winter pruning in preparation for the year ahead. This was something much more drastic.

A Harvest Visit to Château Brown, October 2012

Before I could investigate further, Jean-Christophe’s assistant Agathe de Langhe appeared, and we were off to inspect the beehives. Yes, beehives. It soon became apparent that, despite the calm in the vineyard on this day, there was still much to learn; a lot has changed at Château Brown in the past year or two, so much so that, rather than immediately diving into the news on the 2012 harvest, as I did with my Sociando-Mallet report, it seems appropriate to first take a look at some of these new developments. Not only those that are already in place, but also those that are planned for the coming months.

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