A few words from Pierre Graffeuille, managing director at Château Léoville Las Cases, on the 2019 vintage.
How would you define the 2019 growing season in a few words?
2019 displayed sharp weather contrasts on the whole Left bank. The year began with a wet and dry winter, then experienced a particularly cold spring. The hot, dry summer then stabilised growth and perfected the ripening of the berries. The alternation of hot days, cool nights and rainy periods allowed a superb ripening, a very high tannic and phenolic concentration while safeguarding beautiful acidity. The harvest had to be carried out with meticulousness and perseverance. The fruit we picked kept its promise: perfectly ripe, dense and powerful Merlots, rich and noble Cabernets.
Based on the specific conditions of 2019 did you have to modify any of the winemaking?
Winemaking had indeed to be adapted, but not dramatically. After all, the different characteristics of the harvests year after year require adaptations and improvements. Nevertheless, this year we had to pay a close attention to fermentation, to avoid extracting too much, so our wines could be as balanced and elegant as we wanted them to be.
Did the season favour any particular varieties or terroirs?
The Merlots planted on clay did not suffer and benefited from a continuous water supply. The Cabernets growing on gravel resisted water stress without difficulty, even though Cabernet Franc was the most sensitive to the terroir effect.
Can you tell us about the final 2019 blend?
The 2019 Léoville Las Cases boasts an identity of its own, combining maturity and freshness, refinement and great ageing potential. It is at the same time rich, powerful yet with great finesse and magnificent freshness. The blend remains classical: 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc.
How does 2019 compare to other vintages?
It is always tricky to compare a vintage to another. This 2019 is truly a wonderful vintage, showing common characteristics with other glorious vintages such as 2016, 2018, 2010 and 2009.
What steps you are taking to cope with climate change and warmer vintages? are you adopting a more sustainable approach to viticulture?
Global warming is indeed an issue for everyone, and of course we do have to adapt. Léoville Las Cases is mainly based on Cabernets with most of the Merlot included in the Petit Lion blend. Before thinking about amending the grape varieties, we have been adapting canopy management and harvesting so we can maintain the acidity in each grape and avoid over maturity.
We have changed our approach to vineyard management across all of Domaine Delon’s estates: we stopped using herbicides 30 years ago; we use biocontrol techniques as well as herbal infusions, sexual confusion. All of these practices enhance the natural protection of each vine.
Read the full report: Bordeaux 2019 A Vintage Preview