Since Patrick Maroteaux purchased Chateau Branaire Ducru in 1988, he has been on a mission to produce the best wine possible from this Fourth Growth estate. While 2000, 2003, 2005 and 2009 are all potential candidates for the best wine yet from Branaire Ducru, I’m willing to place a bet the 2010 turns out to be his strongest wine yet. What about 2011 Branaire? Where does the most recent vintage stand? Patrick Maroteaux fills us in.
Patrick Maroteaux “We will produce a rather powerful and colorful vintage due to the low ratio between the juice and the skin. So far the tannins seem rather approachable and elegant. The complexity of the structure will probably not be at the same level as the 2009 and 2010 vintages. We can position the 2011 vintage in the category of the very serious wines. We now know for sure that this vintage will show a very interesting balance”.
Jeff Leve: Some tasters have commented on the high alcohol levels of the 2010 Bordeaux vintage. At this point, what are your thoughts on the 2010 Branaire Ducru?
Patrick Maroteaux “Regarding the 2010 vintage, I do not think we can exactly say that the level of alcohol was high and that the pH was low. The wines were actually well balanced, allowing a good level of freshness”.
Jeff Leve: What took place during the 2011 Bordeaux growing season at Branaire Ducru?
Patrick Maroteaux “As you know, we suffered from drought. We had just a bit more than 300 milliliters of rain until the harvest time. This is very low in comparison with the previous years.”
Jeff Leve: What did this do for your fruit?
Patrick Maroteaux “As a consequence, the berries were very small. Our yields are well below 40 hl / ha”.
Jeff Leve: That’s the quantity. What do you think about the quality?
Patrick Maroteaux “As far as the quality of the grapes is concerned, it is rather a good surprise. We had no sanitary problem and the grapes entered the vats in good conditions”.
Jeff Leve: When did you start harvesting?
Patrick Maroteaux “We started harvesting September 14 and we finished September 29″.
Jeff Leve: How were the conditions?
Patrick Maroteaux “The weather was beautiful . We enjoyed true Indian Summer weather. Plus the berries were in very good conditions. So we took our time to pick the grapes”.
Jeff Leve: Did you use satellite imagery technology sorting this year?
Patrick Maroteaux “Like some of our neighbors in St. Julien, we use satellite imagery”.
Jeff Leve: What about optical sorting? Would it have helped in a vintage like 2011?
Patrick Maroteaux “So far we have not decided to use optical sorting. Experience proves that this year, there was no need to use optical sorting”.
Jeff Leve: Did you have fears of rot this year?
Patrick Maroteaux “The sanitary state of the crop was fine. We did not have to struggle against rot”.
Jeff Leve: In part, is that due to the vintages low yields?
Patrick Maroteaux “From this point of view, the low yields were actually considered as an advantage”.
Jeff Leve: Have you continued improving and modernizing things at Branaire Ducru this year?
Patrick Maroteaux “As far as new equipment is concerned, we added a series of smaller tanks. This was done to improve the sorting”.
Jeff Leve: Does 2011 Branaire Ducru remind you of any previous vintages?
Patrick Maroteaux “At this point, it is difficult to say what vintage the 2011 reminds us of. This new vintage will have a very good structure, color and be well balanced”.
Jeff Leve: What are your potential alcohol levels?
Patrick Maroteaux “It should be around 13%”.
Jeff Leve: How does this compare to your recent previous vintages?
Patrick Maroteaux “This is close to vintages like 2003 and 2006. Compared with the 2000 vintage, this year should be 0.3% higher”.