2007: first impressions
Cabernet Sauvignon, Cos d-Estournel,
Last week I was in Bordeaux. It was a good time to
visit, as harvest was just beginning, so it gave me a chance to have a
look round, ask some questions, walk through vineyards, taste grapes
and get an idea of what sort of quality the 2007 vintage is likely to
Of course, itís horridly premature to try to predict
the quality of the final wines when the grapes arenít even picked.
It would be daft to try to draw any sorts of conclusions other than
just some very broad-brush observations, so thatís what these are.
Harvest at Ch Lafleur, Pomerol
First, the almost unanimous verdict from people I spoke
to is that at the end of August, Bordeaux was heading for a disastrous
year, in the mould of 1992, or perhaps worse. However, three weeks of sunny weather followed, and this has
undoubtedly staved off disaster, turning 2007 into what promises to be
a Ďcorrectí vintage. The feeling seems to be that while it wonít
be great, or even very good, it wonít be a disaster.
Cabernet at Cos
Mildew has been a problem, and this has affected both
the leaves and the grapes. 2007 has been a difficult vintage for the
protection of the vineyard: the problem has not been the quantity of
the rain, but the number of days that it has rained for (close to 1 in
2). Usually, when mildew (the main fungal problem in Bordeaux)
appears, it hits the leaves first, at the seven-leaf stage, and then
you can control it before it gets to the grapes. This year it hit the
grapes first, and at the four-leaf stage of the vine.
Cabernet Sauvignon, Ch Lafite, Pauillac
The mildew problem has led to lower yields, first
because affected bunches have had to be dropped, and secondly because
it has affected the leaf area, and thus the ability of the vines to
ripen their grape load.
Despite this, though, a quick tour through the
vineyards of St Estephe, St Julien, Pauillac, Margaux, Pessac Leognan,
Pomerol and St Emilion allowed us to have a look at the grapes on the
vine, and those that are left seemed in pretty good hygienic
condition, with little sign of botrytis. There were a few bunches
showing signs of desiccation, and some raisined grapes, but overall
they looked healthy. The Cabernet in the Medoc looked like it needed a
couple of weeks more to ripen properly, and the Merlot was close.
Harvesting was already well underway in Pomerol.
Pontet-Carnet, more Cabernet
Iím not terribly experienced at tasting grapes, but
my naive conclusions seemed to agree with those more experienced than
me. The berries seemed to be larger than normal, and there was perhaps
a lack of real flavour development. Whether this translates through to
the wines is anyoneís guess. In conclusion, it seems that 2007
wonít be a great vintage, nor will it be a straightforward one. It
will be interesting to see who makes good wines this year.
Ch Lafite, Cabernet
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