A few words from Nicolas Glumineau, winemaker and CEO at Château Pichon-Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, on the 2019 vintage.
Can you describe the style of your 2019 blend?
We have never made a wine as refined, racy and elegant at Pichon Comtesse. There is so much depth. It has a precise attack and thick mid-palate; the finish is endless due to a very sharp tannic structure. It is aromatically complex with floral (violet) and fruity notes (blueberry/raspberry), but it is very Pauillac with its graphite and cedar characters.
The blend is 71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc, which is very similar to 2017 and 2018.
The 2019 summer was dry and hot. How did this impact this year's vintage?
True. The question we asked was, ‘what kind of wine can we make if drought lasts until the harvest?’ The answer was concentrated juice with low acidity and a lot of alcohol. The drought particularly affected very young vines and Petit Verdot suffered a lot of hydric stress.
We had to manage the hydric stress of the vine by decreasing the height of foliage to avoid too much water evaporation. We also removed the cover crop in the vineyard to decrease the competition between the grass and the vines for water.
I was scared not to have rain. I prayed for rain to fall – yes, really! And it came down. I couldn’t believe it. Second time in August. Those very rainy hours really saved our lives and it couldn’t have occurred at a better moment
Tannins play such a vital and defining role in the quality of Bordeaux red wines. How did you manage tannin extraction in 2019?
Gentle extractions as usual: infusion more than extraction.
The Bordeaux region is becoming more sensitive to the sustainability of its vineyards. You have taken this a step further?
One-third of our vineyard is now farmed biodynamically. We have a huge replanting programme; we will pull out each single plot and allow it to rest for three years and spray specific biodynamic preparations on it. Every new vine will have been grown biodynamically from the start of its life.
What’s more, the rest of the vineyard is grown sustainably, meaning that, if necessary, we only spray twice at flowering. There’s no anti-botrytis sprays, no insecticides, no herbicides; only sulphur, copper and bio-controls.
What would you describe as Bordeaux’s greatest asset right now?
Only wine is the hero, not the winemaker. Wines will talk for themselves and we have a series of very good vintages since 2014 - that helps us to promote Bordeaux wines for what they really are.
Read the full report: Bordeaux 2019 A Vintage Preview