So here we are, in the period when all our work and our hopes finally crystallize! 2018 was a roller-coaster ride for winegrowers: the weather during the first part of the growing season caused something of a scare, but then things steadily improved as the sun began to show its face on an increasingly regular basis. Here is an excellent summary of the vintage from David Pernet of Sovivins, our biodynamic wine consultant:
“Years ending in 8 generally end well! 2018 was no exception. Having virtually drowned the pruning team during the winter and frayed the nerves of the winegrowers in the spring with an epic battle against mildew, the vintage then made a 180 degree turn at the beginning of July and the “Bordeaux miracle” occurred once again, with a magnificent summer and early autumn! The summer of 2018 was the hottest on record after 2003 but without the excesses and water stress of the latter. Thanks to groundwater reserves being well replenished over the winter, and the rainy spring, the vines were able to cope with the dry summer. High temperatures dissipated vegetal aromas and stimulated the production of tannins, while the substantial differences between day and night-time temperatures during the ripening period ensured that he grapes were packed with flavour. 2018 will be one of the more structured Bordeaux vintages.”
At La Dauphine, the harvests began with the Merlot on 21 September in perfect, optimal conditions, with cool yet dry nights and bright sunshine throughout the day: who could ask for anything more? We have gradually harvested our 53 hectares, finally finishing with the Cabernet Franc. These last weeks of beautiful weather enabled the grapes to reach a superb degree of ripeness; the dark bunches looked remarkably like caviar!
On reception of the harvest at the winery, a mechanical sorting table with an “air blade” removes plant debris and any grapes that do not meet the desired quality standard. Once in the vats, alcoholic fermentation is initiated by the addition of selected yeasts, thereby enabling better control of the transformation of the sugar into alcohol. Since the berries are small, the ratio of skin to juice is high, resulting in beautiful colours, deep aromas and an excellent tannic structure. For this reason, we adopted a very gentle extraction process.
On tasting, the fruit aromas have a striking clarity and freshness, with plenty of acidity to balance the tannins. Having started in an apparently chaotic fashion, this vintage has turned out to be one of the most exceptional of the decade, a notch or two above 2015 & 2016.