2019 Bordeaux: A grape harvest and winemaking season with (virtually) no hiccups

Tuesday October 01 2019 by Vitisphere

“After 2018, it was unreasonable to expect a vintage as promising as 2019 but the truth is that the grapes are excellent and of a richness we would like to see every year,” stressed David Pernet.“After 2018, it was unreasonable to expect a vintage as promising as 2019 but the truth is that the grapes are excellent and of a richness we would like to see every year,” stressed David Pernet.

As it transitions from a sun-kissed summer to a rainy autumn, Bordeaux has harvested the bulk of its Merlot. “This is the first time I've been happy to see the rain fall at this time of the year. The grapes are ripe and rich, and the showers have come late enough not to spoil the momentum of the vintage. This is a very comfortable scenario”, said David Pernet, co-founder of the laboratory Sovivins. After keeping track of the vineyards of Gironde for twenty years, the consultant pointed out that there was “only one cloud on the horizon: alcohol content is sometimes too high”.

With ripeness levels in excess of 15° of potential alcohol in increasing numbers of Merlot vineyards, rainfall has come as a relief. It has halted the cycle of wilting and concentration of the past few weeks. Now that good balance has been achieved on the palate, through phenol content reaching maturity (after “moderate but prolonged” water deficit), quality aromas (with high temperatures breaking down herbal characters early on and day/night temperature differences conducive to aromatics) and acidity retained (lowered acids but sustained pH “due to lack of rain and late potash absorption”), vineyards can now be harvested.

Skin tannins

This vintage has optimised the production machine and allowed secondary compounds such as grapes to ripen”, summed up Pernet, who believes that “in terms of winemaking, the main challenge is more about taking alcoholic fermentation to a successful conclusion than worrying about extraction”. Although early water constraints leading to small Merlot berries made a strong impression, the consultant pointed primarily to the low number of pips in the grapes. “Phenol content is in the skins this vintage, producing fine tannins that are more pleasant than those of the pips”, said Pernet, who has just published his summary of the 2019 vintage in Bordeaux, a reference work that attests to the growing impact of climate change.

 

 

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