A few words from Henri Lurton, owner of Château Brane-Cantenac, on the 2019 vintage.
How would you define the 2019 growing season in a few words?
It was a mild spring with some rain; a very dry and hot summer with a lot of sun and cool nights; beautiful weather during harvest time with just a few rain episodes.
How did you cope with the drought and heat spikes during the growing season?
The vines didn’t suffer too much because we worked hard in the vineyard to lower the crop and we adapted our canopy management. Hot temperatures were not a problem because the nights were cool.
Based on the specific conditions of 2019 did you have to modify your winemaking?
We fermented at a lower temperature than usual: 26 to 28°C vs 28 to 29°C. The end of fermentation was slower than usual because of the high degrees [of alcohol].
Tannins play such a vital and defining role in the quality of Bordeaux red wines. How did you manage tannin extraction in 2019?
We are very careful with the skins. We do not pump over; we use air to break the cap. Consequently, the cap is less dense and at the end we have a better extraction of good tannins and better press wine.
Can you describe the characteristics of each of the varieties in 2019?
We had stunning Cabernet Sauvignon: richly fruited, densely structured, with very ripe tannins. The Merlot was also great – very expressive and dense not overripe at all. Despite the unusually high degrees, they remain fresh.
How does 2019 compare with other vintages?
It’s close to 2016 in term of fruit, structure, softness of tannins; the alcohol is higher in 2019 but it has perfect balance.
Did anything out of the ordinary happen at the estate in 2019?
At the end of August, we harvested the first white grapes at Brane-Cantenac in at least 150 years.
The entire industry was saddened by the postponement of en primeur week. What does the event mean to you and the Château?
It’s like showing the new baby to the family, it’s so frustrating not being able to do it. Wine is emotion, I like to see the light in the eyes of people that taste it for the first time.
Bordeaux has been undergoing a major ecological transition with increasing investment in sustainability across the region. What are you doing?
We are part of this big change in Bordeaux. It’s not new for us, we built the first sustainable building at Brane 20 years ago! I was a biologist and soil scientist before becoming a winemaker and I think that protecting the terroir's “ecosystem” is the most important thing in the long term.
Read the full report: Bordeaux 2019 A Vintage Preview