Bordeaux is not harvesting the vintage of the century, but a vintage from the last century

Thursday October 14 2021 by Vitisphere

“The wines display the kind of freshness and structure that established Bordeaux’s reputation in the past”, comments David Pernet. “The wines display the kind of freshness and structure that established Bordeaux’s reputation in the past”, comments David Pernet. - Photo credit : DR

Vintages come and go in Bordeaux and each one is different. After sunny harvests in 2018 and 2020, 2021’s defining features are its low temperatures and sustained rainfall, sums up David Pernet, director of the Sovivins consultancy based in Martillac. Not only was there an historic bout of frost which brought down volumes, weather patterns in 2021 also gave the vintage an unusual twist from a quality perspective, breaking with a series that had recently started to emerge. Pernet claims 2021 is a “terroir-driven vintage with significant contrasts depending on the soils – and the way excess water and nitrogen were managed, especially for Merlot - and viticulture techniques, from plant protection usage to accelerated harvesting prompted by botrytis”.

Looking back over a difficult vintage for winegrowers, Pernet comments that “temperatures remained cool throughout the year. The spring rains lasted until 8 August and returned in the second half of September. This combination produced much lower sugar levels than in recent years, with fresher aromas, but without the varietal aspect, there will be no bellpepper/pyrazine characters in the Cabernet, and good phenolic ripeness, despite the large size of the berries and the vintage’s very moderate water deficit”. Pernet has noticed that the high concentrations of malic acid currently witnessed are counterbalanced by moderately high total acidities: “After malolactic fermentation, we will have pH levels in the average range, or even higher, which is good for softening the wines”.

Although 2021 Bordeaux wines will be beautifully drinkable, lower levels of ripeness will probably entail longer maturation and cellaring times than for the past few vintages if the 2021s are to develop appeal, warns Pernet.

 

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