A few words from the team at Château Pichon Baron on the 2019 vintage.
The growing season
The prolonged dry and sunny summer resulted in perfectly ripe grapes, and the wines of 2019 reflect this full maturity. The early part of the year was very wet, which meant that water levels were fully replenished before the summer began. Flowering conditions were somewhat difficult, which led to some coulure and reduced yields. From June onwards, warm dry and sunny conditions set in and continued throughout the summer, with one major episode of rain towards the end of July which had a very positive effect on ripening. By the beginning of harvest the grapes were perfectly ripe. Harvest conditions were excellent for the reds, enabling us to pick each parcel at optimum maturity. The resulting wines at Château Pichon Baron are fully ripe, very expressive, with relatively low acidity.
The weather conditions
2019 was marked by a rainy spring and start to June, followed by a hot, dry summer. Cool temperatures alleviated the virulence of the mildew, and the year’s favourable weather conditions created an environment free from the threat of cryptogamic infection.The rapid warming of the soil at the end of winter led to steady and even bud burst,with slow growth. Unfortunately, these cool conditions were not favourable to flowering and caused moderate coulure, except in our earliest-ripening terroirs.
The last ten days of June gave way to hot and dry summer weather punctuated by some rain in late July and early August. The sunshine and heat stimulated the fruit aromas of the Cabernets and the concentration of polyphenols in the skins. Limited water during ripening accelerated sugar concentration and the breakdown of acids, and increased the grapes’ phenolic potential. These conditions were also favourable to the quality of the tannins.
Mid-veraison was reached between 4-5 August on the early-ripening plots and ended quickly and evenly in mid-August.
The grapes became particularly rich in mid-September due to the hot, dry conditions, then the first rains in late September weakened the skins and accelerated the harvest. This very welcome moisture stabilised the sugar concentration and allowed us to continue the harvest more serenely. 2019 was characterised by high potential alcohol content and low total acidity (little malic acid).
The harvest took place from 18 September to 11 October.
The vinification was carried out plot-by-plot and intra-plot selection forms the backbone of our approach. This year we paid particular attention at the sorting stage to remove the withered berries whose prune-like character favours premature development.
Temperature control during vatting was made easier by cold stabilising. The alcoholic fermentations started quickly with yeast from our vineyard. Temperatures were kept at 25-29°C. Maceration times ranged from 15 to 23 days. Malolactic fermentation in vats took place rapidly, allowing the wine to be steadily transferred to barrels on fine lees in separate batches. The wine was transferred to barrels by the end of November.
The blend is 87 % Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot.
80% in new barrels and 20% from barrels of one vintage, for 18 months.
Read the full report: Bordeaux 2019 A Vintage Preview