2017 Bordeaux En Primeur
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2017 Bordeaux Vintage Report
Winter 2016 / 2017
The winter was unusually warm, for the most part. There was a cold snap in January, which served to offset some of the dangers of the vine pests and diseases. The season was largely dry until February, when vital rainfall arrived and temperatures rose once more.
Budburst came early and with the begining of April, another spell of unseaonably warm weather hastened the growth of shoots and leaves. Vignerons' worst fears were realised in the last week of April, when a series of devastating frosts struck. There was large scale damage to vines on the Right Bank, especially in Pomerol, Lalande-de-Pomerol, Fronsac, Bourg, Blaye and the Cotes de Bordeaux. The Left Bank fared better, overall. Pauillac, St Estephe and St Julien being largely unaffected, whilst Margaux and Haut Medoc are a more mixed picture. Grave and Barsac suffered some of the worst effects and there will are properties who have lost entires crops. These Spring frosts have been referred to as the worst in living memory. Across the region, estimates are that 40% of the production was lost for reds and 50% for whites.
To add insult to injury, once the frost were over, the temperature became unusually warm again, with the hottest May since 1950. It remained dry until an incredible downpour, in the last few days of June, brought the sustenance the vines so desparately needed. July saw mostly average temperatures for the time of year but once again there was a sustained period of drought, adding further to the vines' stress. The frost-surviving berries achieved veraison (colour change) before the end of the month and everything was set for an early harvest. A mostly cool August was contrasted by a week of extreme heat at the end of the month, saving the grapes from devloping a herbaceous character.
Some mid-September rain hastened the harvest and few gambled on longer hang-time, preferring instead to bank on bringing in healty fruit. Almost everything was in by the end of the month and certainly by the first week of October. Overall, the grapes had achieved good phenolic ripeness, with ripe skins and pips. The resulting musts showed fine ripeness, acidity and tannins.
Many of the top properties of both Left and Right Banks emerged relatively unscathed by the traumatic frosts that affected less prestigious terroirs and will have a good volume of high quality wine to sell. As ever, the commercial success of the vintage will depend very much on where the chateaux position pricing.
Considerably greater detail and vintage insight can be found in the excellent aanual reports of veteran Bordeaux commentator, Bill Blatch, as published in the Free For All section of www.jancisrobinson.com: Blatch on Bordeaux 2017
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