Archive for August, 2013

Is Sauternes the place to be in 2013?

Saturday, August 31st, 2013

I’ve been travelling around Bordeaux a bit recently and the vines are looking better in Sauternes than elsewhere.

The first two photos below show a typical Sauvignon bunch at Château Guiraud in Sauternes and a typical Sémillon bunch at Château de Myrat in Barsac.  Contrast these healthy grapes with the final photo of some typical Merlot in the Médoc!

Sauvignon at Guiraud


Sémillon at de Myrat


Merlot in the Médoc

The Sauternes grapes have just finished véraison so we are still very late, but the regularly hot July and August have caught the 5 week lateness up to about 3.  The foliage looks great, there is an abundance of bunches and grapes (unlike in the reds where coulure was heavy), absolutely no damaged grapes from disease or hail of which there has been none in Sauternes (unlike the poor growers in Entre-Deux-Mares and Castillon where 37,000 hectares were hit at the start of August), almost no mildew browning of leaves – all looks absolutely perfect!

The only problem is the lateness (occasioned by the cold and rainy spring), which means we will have to get to concentration then botrytisation between now and late October, always dodgy but absolutely possible.  If the current 15° at night, 25-28° daytime temperatures keep up, and if we get a little shower or two to get things going over the next few weeks, I (and others I have talked to) would say Sauternes will benefit more than all the other Bordeaux regions, where things are in much worse state.

Fingers crossed!  Bill Blatch

Summer 2013 Sauternes News

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

I’m back from Summer in the High Sierras and on my return the first thing I did was to nip down to Sauternes to see how things are getting on.

With all the July heat and drought, the vines are looking great:  so much winter and spring rainfall has kept the soil cool so there has been absolutely no hydric stress.  During July we have caught up half of the end June 1 month lateness, so, if the weather stays as it is (moderate sub-30 deg heat with fortnightly non-violent rainfall), we could be in for a great 10th Oct harvest….but the early season problems are still untamed, and if we get humid conditions over the next month (unlikely by my best-of-5 met stations), the grey rot may spread.

Of course the awful conditions at flowering (especially the Tuesday of Vinexpo) have caused widespread coulure (shatter) and millerandage (aborted grapes) but not nearly as bad as on the Merlots.  This photo shows the most millerandé bunch I could find.   Most are much better than this, and anyway it’s of no importance because Sauternes picks grapes not bunches!

At this stage, and subject to substantial revision from the next 30 days events, we should have a small, late but exceptional vintage in Sauternes if the concentration period goes well (we are in aoutement now with veraison about to start).  Fingers crossed.

For those who have looked carefully  after their vines, and if someone up there likes us over the next 2 months, we have a shot at the big one.  Sauternes toujours Sauternes!  Bill Blatch