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The Bordeaux 2009 harvest

A relatively brief summary of the state of play in Bordeaux with regard to the 2009 harvest, courtesy of Jean-Christophe Mau

Picking of red grapes at both Chateau Brown and Chateau Preuillac began on October 1st.  The grapes have been reaching a good degree of maturity – for instance, at 18h30 on September 29th, the temperature in Léognan was still 28°!

Principal characteristics of the vintage are as follows:

• Yields look reasonable, even though they are reducing on a daily basis.

• The skins of all the grape varieties are extremely thick.  This will clearly have implications for the winemaking and judgement on the levels of extraction.

• The pips are becoming crisp and ripe, and have a hazelnut aroma.

• Sugar levels in the grapes are high.  Even in the north of the Medoc, sugar levels in Merlot are 13.5 and the ripest parcels are at 14.7.

• Total acidity is on the low side, between 3.2 and 3.4.  The malic acidity is disconcertingly low, around 1 g/l on the Merlot.  However, the pH is favourable, between 3.3 and 3.4, which suggests good overall balance.

• A week ago, we were concerned about the extractability of the anthocyanins, but now it looks more straightforward.

• Highly unusually, we expect to pick the Petit Verdot at Chateau Brown before we finish picking the Merlot, simply because the Petit Verdot will be ripe.

• Cabernet Sauvignon is not yet ripe, but we are hopeful that the beneficial conditions will bring it to full ripeness in the course of the next fortnight.

1 October 2009 - Felicity Murray