A few words from Vincent Millet, managing director of Château Calon Ségur, on the 2019 vintage.
How would you describe the 2019 vintage?
The main characteristic of this vintage is the size of the Merlot and Cabernet berries, down 10 to 15% compared to 2018. The water deficit of July and August mostly explains it (49mm in 2019 against 76mm in 2018), which is why thinning has been thought through for each plot in order to preserve the right quantity of grapes and ensure [that those bunches that were left] could reach full maturity.
The rainfall recorded through September (30mm) didn’t mean that the grape berries became bigger but it was a fundamental part of finishing the phenological maturity of the Merlot and Cabernets.
When did you start picking?
The harvest started on 16 September on Capbern’s terroir with the youngest Merlots. The entirety of the Merlot of Calon Ségur and Capbern were picked between 24 and 28 September while Cabernet Sauvignon, Franc and Petit Verdot were harvested between 20 September and 9 October. Our maturity tests revealed the extraordinary sugar and tannins potential of the grapes.
How did you adapt your winemaking to such maturity?
Considering the small size of the grapes, we limited pump overs because we knew the high potential alcohol would naturally extract the tannins. Our system of cooling the grapes down to 10-12˚C right after the destemming and crushing allowed us to obtain extraordinary anthocyanins after 72 hours.
The alcoholic fermentation was maintained at a temperature of 26°C. The fermentation time remained classic, between 18 and 21 days. For four years now, we have inoculated the must with lactic bacteria strains to run the malolactic fermentation during the alcoholic fermentation.
The blend for the 2019 Château Calon Ségur is 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% of Merlot, 12% of Cabernet Franc and 1% of Petit Verdot with an alcohol content of 14.5%
How does the analysis of the wine compare to 2018?
At the end of the fermentations, the alcohol of the Merlots was 15.4% and for the Cabernets 14.4%, the same as 2018s. The Total Polyphenol Index (TPI) is one point higher than last year (76 for the Merlot, 77 for the Cabernet). The rains during the Merlot flowering had a quantitative impact (-17%) while the measures taken in summer allowed us to increase the volume of the Cabernets (+13%). Overall, the general yield remains identical to 2018 at 40hl/ha.
How would you describe the wine?
This vintage offers complex aromatics and flavours: floral and fruity, with a freshness that accompanies silky, refined tannins. It is a vintage that competes with 2016 and 2018. But if there is one word to qualify our wines, it is unspittable.
What do you think the Saint-Estèphe clay-rich soils have contributed to the wine?
Thanks to the singularity of our terroir and specifically our clay, this vintage is both powerful and fresh, and by its silky tannins has all the properties so that it can enjoyed in the coming years while also knowing that it will be a great age worthy wine thanks to its acidity.
Read the full report: Bordeaux 2019 A Vintage Preview