A few words from Marjolaine Maurice de Coninck, general manager at Château Marquis d'Alesme Becker, on the 2019 vintage.
The 2019 growing season was incredibly dry and hot. How did you cope with the climatic pressures during the growing season?
This year 2019 was indeed marked by a lack of water throughout the spring and summer cycle as well as high intensity sunshine.
We have therefore adapted our cultivation methods, choosing shoot thinning rather than de-leafing; this is to avoid any direct sun burn for the grapes which could deteriorate the aromatic and the quality of the grape skin. The shoot thinning is a meticulous work consisting in removing lateral shoots (secondary ones); the sap concentrates on the nutrition of the main shoot.
Rainfall was quite localised during veraison in Bordeaux. Where there any specific climatic episode that affected the veraison or the harvest and how did you cope with it?
Rainfall, just when we needed it! It is true that the Right Bank benefited from the long awaited first rains from the 3rd week of August. Those rains finally arrived in Margaux early September and unlocked the maturing cycle of the vines. Some light but then regular rainfalls were very beneficial to refine the grapes and to also to allow us to harvest in very good conditions.
Based on the 2019 season and the fruit it created, did you have to modify any of the winemaking?
The lack of summer water stopped the cycle rather than degrading the acid/ sugar balance. Thus at the beginning of September, under mild temperatures and with some water, the maturation process was reactivated, allowing a qualitative accumulation of phenols while maintaining the sugar/ acidity balance. Also the matter presented a very strong natural extractability. Therefore it wasn't necessary to carry out extensive mechanical extraction during the fermentation but we could on the contrary work gently and regularly at low temperature
2019 is not a solar vintage; it's a very rich and balanced one.
How did you work on the final blend this year?
In the vineyards, we work on each plot individually, from the vine to ageing. This allow us to adapt the uniqueness of each wine entity at all stages. The blending then reveals the difference of each batch, which by dovetailing with the others, contributes to giving a real personality to the vintage.
This year our pre-blending highlights our young clayey-limestone plot of Cabernet Franc. It was replanted 8 years ago and enters the wine of Labégorce for the first time. These young Cabernet Francs come from a massal section and were grown in an organic nursery.
Although the 2019 Merlots are very beautiful, 2019 reveals first the brilliance and the aromatic power of the great years of Cabernet.
How does 2019 compare to other vintages?
2019 is a great vintage and is comparable to other iconic vintages like 2010 and 2016. This year vintage is also precise than the great vintages than we produced prior to 2000's
This vintage presents a perfect balance, a rare dazzling fruit, an astonishing freshness, a real aromatic purity carried by a soft structure.
Read the full report: Bordeaux 2019 A Vintage Preview