Since Didier Cuvelier took over managing Chateau Leoville Poyferre in 1979, the Second Growth estate has continued to improve. 1982, 1990 and 2000, are all stunning Bordeaux wines that remain youthful, fresh and vigorous. The previous decade is also filled with great vintages of Leoville Poyferre with the 2003, 2005 and 2009 wines. It’s a coin flip at the moment as to which recent vintage is better, the lush 2009 or the powerful 2010. 2011 is a more difficult vintage for St. Julien, according to Didier Cuvelier.
Jeff Leve: When did you start harvesting the 2011 Leoville Poyferre?
Didier Cuvelier “At Leoville Poyferre we started September 19 and finished October 1″.
Jeff Leve: How does this compare with some of your neighbors in St. Julien?
Didier Cuvelier “Our vineyard is certainly not the earliest to ripen in St Julien”.
Jeff Leve: 2009 Leoville Poyferre is a sensual, lush vintage, while your 2010 is more structured. What do you think is the style of your 2011?
Jeff Leve: What was the 2011 Leoville Poyferre growing season like for you?
Didier Cuvelier “We had a dry and hot spring. This was followed by gloomy weather and welcome rains in July. Next we had a mixed August and finally a magnificent September with very little rain”.
Jeff Leve: After the day, hot spring, how did your vines handle the drought with the 2011 Leoville Poyferre?
Didier Cuvelier “The vines have gotten used to a lack of water during the dry periods over the past 4-5 years. The roots are now going down deeper into the soil to find water”.
Jeff Leve: How much extra work did you need to do with the 2011 Bordeaux vintage?
Didier Cuvelier “We de-leafed early, at the end of June. De-leafing allowed treatments to reach the berries and prevented rot from developing”.
Jeff Leve: Was this the first vintage you used optical sorting?
Didier Cuvelier “Yes, it was the first vintage for us. Optical sorting was very useful in this vintage because some berries hadn’t fully ripened”.
Jeff Leve You recently added 20 new, stainless steel, double skin vats. Did you do more technical improvements this year?
Didier Cuvelier “We rethought the harvest process this vintage. We added 2 new lines and 2 new de-stemmers. Plus, as you know, we introduced optical selection”.
Jeff Leve: What yields do you expect this year?
Didier Cuvelier “We will definitely have less wine in this vintage than we did in 2010″.
Jeff Leve: What are you doing with your vinification for the 2011?
Didier Cuvelier “We are performing gentle pumpovers. It is useless to try to extract too much this year”.
Jeff Leve: What are your potential alcohol levels?
Didier Cuvelier “We should be at 13.5 % alcohol”.
Jeff Leve: How would you sum up the 2011 Bordeaux vintage?
Didier Cuvelier “2011 is a wine makers vintage that required a lot of selection”.