Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Late harvest

While waiting to pick our 4 rows of Cabernet Sauvignons on Thursday, November 27, I posted below the press release sent by our Union of Saint Emilion-Pomerol-Fronsac

2008 VINTAGE :
A late vintage with a beautiful indian summer :
Perfect for superbly classic wines

You have to go back to 1988, engraved in the mind of fine wine lovers, to find similar climatic conditions (average temperature, exposure to the sun, pluviometry), phenological stages, date for the harvest and yield projections.

The weather in 2008 was very changeable until the end of August. 2 climatic accidents took place: frost on April 7 and hail on July 28 which affected a small part of the appellations. It was only by carrying out continuous, expensive, yet very necessary work in their vineyards that the winegrowers of Saint-Emilion – Pomerol – Fronsac were able to take advantage of the exceptional weather conditions of September and October:
  • 2008 was quite dry with total rainfall lower than the 30-year average.
  • Flowering took place early from mid-May (see the curve below generated from
    statistics obtained from the pollen sampler of the Winegrowers’ Union) and phenological stages increasing in increments.
  • Ripening was slow, thus preserving the aromas, freshness and balance of the fruit. Ripening evolved depending on the way the vineyard was planted, its state and the soil’s characteristics
  • Natural low yields
  • The wide temperature differences between day and night in September and October encouraged the synthesis of anthocyanins,
  • Harvesting was spread out from 25 September to 25 October in exceptional
    conditions: dry weather, fresh at night and warm day, sunny and light wind.
    The Merlot grape variety, which accounts for more than 70% of the vines in the Saint-
    Emilion – Pomerol - Fronsac appellations, naturally ripens early and therefore benefited greatly from these weather conditions.

2008 was a vintage for which the Saint-Emilion – Pomerol – Fronsac winegrowers had
to work extra hard in the vines, (thinning out, removing leaves with certain restraint,
etc.) in order to improve grape ripening and produce fruit in optimal condition for the
harvest. This hard work ended up being greatly rewarded.
A significant fact: The harvest took place over an exceptionally long period from 25 September to the end of October. The winegrowers were able to choose plot by plot which
grapes to pick depending on the different stages of ripeness of each grape variety and
Wine making techniques that were finely tuned to the precise conditions of the vintage
and pure know-how made sure that the fine potential of the fruit was optimally


As always in difficult years, the great Saint-Emilion – Pomerol – Fronsac terroirs have
revealed all the complexity of this vintage.
During the harvest, the grapes, in relatively low quantity, were delicious, crunchy, fruity and vivid. The grapes were beautiful with thick skin, rich color and tannins (phenolic potential close to 2006 and 2005).

The Merlot wines after alcoholic fermentation demonstrate this quality with:

  • Good levels of level of alcohol between 12.5 and 14% volume,
  • Good acidity promising nice balance
  • Impressive colour showing that the vines thrived during the summer
  • Superb aromatic complexity of fresh, red and black fruit
  • Subtle, round mellowed tannins

The Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, picked in the second half of October have benefited from this long period of fine weather and will add quality and elegance to the round fruitiness of the Merlots.

No comments: