September-October 2014 at Château Malartic-Lagravière
Our knowledge of the vineyard: meticulous work carried out by our teams, with sustainable canopy management taken further.
A comprehensive expression of a blend of terroirs and grape varieties.
2014, the spring brought pleasant conditions to Malartic, with a good, fairly even flowering; July was reasonable, despite some rain that interrupted periods of fine weather. But August was catastrophic, starting out hot and humid and then becoming very cool. As the harvests approached, we feared for the health of the grapes because of a significant risk of mildew in early August and some outbreaks of botrytis on the white grapes at the end of the month.
Fortunately, on 27 August, a period of superb weather arrived that was to continue throughout the harvests. It was one of the most exceptional Septembers that we have had for a very long time. Ripeness progressed exponentially, and we were able to harvest very concentrated grapes that produced powerful, aromatic musts, enlivened by very good levels of acidity. The perfect balance!
Our teams waged a constant battle throughout the growing season to compensate for the very unusual conditions. The decisions were fast and well-managed thanks to an experienced, reinforced team:
• Meticulous removal of unwanted shoots and buds and regular trimming to control the risk of disease and preserve the foliage.
• Early leaf removal, then again later on both sides in mid-August to ensure the aromatic development of the white grapes and a perfect state of health.
• Green harvesting to regulate the ripening of the red grapes.
The white grapes benefitted from the cool weather in August which helped to preserve their flavours and acidity.
For the red grapes, green harvests midway through the ripening stage (for the Cabernet and the Merlot) further improved their uniformity, that was already very reasonable thanks to a good flowering. The Indian summer and tailored canopy management enabled us to smooth out August’s deficiencies. The harvests ended on 21 October under sunny skies.
The white 2014, Sauvignons as Sémillons, are absolutely superb: Flesh and straight, racy and very aromatic, with good acidity (pH 3.10/3.15).
The Merlot is dense, rounded and rich, with lots of volume. Very uniform due to intensive upstream work on the plots, their quality goes beyond a simple expression of the vintage and presents a real Malartic style.
The Cabernet is also excellent: very clean, pure and long, with bright, almost sunny fruit, and a noticeable sweetness. The tannins present volume and flexibility. Remarkable!
The Cabernet-Franc has very elegant floral notes, while the Petit-Verdot displays a very characteristic spicy, pepperiness, with notes of Morello cherries.
Malartic 2014 has benefited from two significant factors:
An Indian summer that was crucial to the vintage’s quality, enhanced by our growing techniques.
The mastery of our terroirs: the enhancement of techniques begun in 1997; rigorous “eco-dynamic” methods in which sustainable farming is taken as far as possible. A knowledge of the plots that enables us to refine the work on achieving optimal ripeness for each type of terroir, both during the growing season and the harvests. Successive passes for the white grapes and intra-plots for the reds.
Adaptation of growing practices – a larger team of pickers for extra responsiveness in a situation in which every hour can make a difference – and a pragmatic approach to harvest dates.
Drastic selection regarding green harvests and the proportion of the Grand Vin to the Second wine.
50% of the property’s Cabernet vines were harvested after the summery weekend of 19 & 20 October. A plus in terms of quality that enabled the achievement of even greater ripeness…
Adaptation of growing practices
With a particularly complicated growth cycle and a persistent lateness despite the hot, sunny summer, the canopy management tasks were adapted as the harvest approached with leaf removal on the sunset side of the rows and green harvests.
Differences in ripeness were reduced for greater uniformity. Rigorous sorting at the mid-ripening stage, primarily targeting bunches that had formed clusters with other bunches, and those that were the least ripe, and removal of “wings” on the bunches.
Harvests: a brisk pace thanks to a larger picking team
The white grape harvest started on 26 September, and was followed, most unusually, by the first Merlot just two days later!
The Sauvignon gave beautiful results; the Merlot, sometimes more fragile, was picked with extreme care, finishing on 7 October.
The harvest team was considerably larger than usual (nearly a 100 people in total) for increased flexibility. This was a crucial factor in being able to manage the picking schedule imposed by the accelerating risk of deterioration in the grapes’ health during the final days of the Merlot harvest.
Focus on the Cabernets
The weather for the weekend of 19 and 20 October was very summery. The warm temperatures, of up to 27°C, enabled the grapes to reach optimal ripeness and further refinement of the skins.
When most of the harvests had finished in the Gironde, 50 % of our Cabernet was still on the vine, in superb condition, due in particular to the green harvest of the wings on the Cabernet Sauvignon bunches. On the palate, the grapes were full-flavoured with supple, elegant tannins. The bunches were perfect and could be easily destemmed without any damage to the berries.
Malartic’s wines for 2013
Jean-Jacques Bonnie : “This was certainly a tough, demanding vintage. Everything was thrown at us! Fortunately we had strengthened the picking team to cope with the extremely tight schedule that we had drawn up due to the risk of disease. This enabled us to stay on track! Thanks to some intensive canopy management we obtained uniform levels of ripeness that were very satisfactory given the conditions for the vintage. We decided to apply drastic selection to certain plots, with a view to optimizing the quality of the grapes, rather than letting ourselves be guided by volume considerations; this enabled each bunch to be harvested in the best possible conditions. Our insistence on quality was also reflected in the proportion of grapes used for the grand vin, with 35% for the red and 45% for the white. This is the price of very high quality; for us there was never a moment’s hesitation.”
The result is very pure, very flavourful wines.
The white wines are very fragrant. There is definite acidity, but this is balanced by excellent volume on the palate.
The reds present beautiful ripe, crunchy, delicious fruit. The delicate structure offers lovely balance and the tannins are soft and silky. Good substance. These elegant wines are both well-balanced and full-flavoured.
How is the 2013 vintage looking at Malartic?
“This will be a late vintage, but the vineyard is in perfect health, and we can wait confidently for the harvests.”
Fortunately the summer period began with a turnaround in the weather. July and August were splendid, with high temperatures and not much rain. These two months allowed the vines to catch up a little, but the start of ripening was still fifteen days later than in a classic vintage.
Conditions were, however, good and the “véraison” (ripening) was fast and fairly uniform.
The end of August and early September saw the second round of leaf removal and some thinning in order to even out differences in degrees of ripening and to improve air circulation, thereby reducing the risk of rot.
This will enable us to maximise the chances of obtaining optimal ripeness, despite a late harvest.