Chateau La Fleur Morange has been a roll over the past several vintages. Old vines, some of which are over 100 years of age, low yields, a commitment to trying to produce the best wine possible from their estate by Jean Francois Julien is a large part of the story. This increase in quality earned them the promotion to Grand Cru Classe in the new 2012 St. Emilion Classification: 2012 St. Emilion Classification Official Results Upgrades Demotions
However, the addition of La Fleur Morange Mathilde, which is a serious contender for the best wine for the money from the Right Bank, is also a key component to their continued success. To keep up with everything going on at their St. Emilion property, we spoke with Jean Francois Julien about the 2012 Bordeaux vintage and harvest.
Jeff Leve Congratulations on your promotion in the new 2012 St. Emilion Classification. Now that you are a Grand Cru Classe property, did you make any significant changes in your wine making facilities this year?
Jean Francois Julien “We built a new cellar to produce the Mathilde. This was one of the consequences of the new St. Emilion Classification which elevated our grand vin, La Fleur Morange, to cru classé status.“
Jeff Leve Having gone through the growing season and harvest, now that your vats are fermenting, what previous year does the 2012 Bordeaux vintage remind you of?
Jean Francois Julien “Before the harvest, the first lab analyses reminded me of 2003, notably due to the low acidity levels. The vintage also reminds me of something between 2006 and 2008, both of which were very good years for La Fleur Morange.”
Jeff Leve What was the 2012 Bordeaux growing season like for you
Jean Francois Julien ”Spring was quite cool and the first bud break occurred during a spring frost. That changed the course of the vintage. We lost one out of two buds. I often say that one must remain humble in the face of Mother Nature. This year, that was especially true.”
Jeff Leve What did you need to do in your vineyards during the 2012 Bordeaux growing season that was unique to this vintage at La Fleur Morange?
Jean Francois Julien “The work in the vineyards was long and fastidious because the buds that came out after the frost were irregular. We had to retrellis the shoots, which slowed down our dressing the canes. We also crop thinned later than usual. This allowed us to have a relatively uniform ripening with the 2012 La Fleur Morange harvest.”
Jeff Leve When you discover problems with mildew or botrytis, what actions did you take?
Jean Francois Julien “At La Fleur Morange, a grape that is afflicted with Botrytis is not a good one. The simplest solution is to leave them on the ground in the vineyards and to only bring in the healthy berries.”
Jeff Leve Which of your terroirs performed best?
Jean Francois Julien “With our terroir, we were lucky. None of the Fleur Morange vineyards suffered any water stress and the results were uniformly good.”
Jeff Leve When did you start harvesting the grapes for your 2012 La Fleur Morange?
Jean Francois Julien “The terroir of La Fleur Morange is traditionally precocious, usually ripening at least 10 days before the hillside vineyards. Consequently, we started to harvest the Merlot on October 13th and finished October 18.”
Jeff Leve What were the conditions like for you during the harvest?
Jean Francois Julien “We had five days where the weather was overcast but without any rain.”
Jeff Leve How many pickers did you employ?
Jean Francois Julien “At La Fleur Morange we brought in 30 harvesters to do the picking and 50 more people in the cellars that worked on the manual destemming and sorting.”
Jeff Leve Was this a late harvest for you?
Jean Francois Julien “Interestingly, it was the opposite for us with the 2012 La Fleur Morange. In fact, this was one of the earliest harvest starts for us over the past 15 years.”
Jeff Leve What are your alcohol levels for the 2012 La Fleur Morange?
Jean Francois Julien “For the Mathilde de la Fleur Morange, we are at 13.5%. With La Fleur Morange, we reached 14%.”
Jeff Leve What are your final thoughts on the 2012 Bordeaux vintage?
Jean Francois Julien “At the moment, malolactic fermentation is currently taking place in barrel. Looking back, I think I succeeded in this complicated vintage, even though we came very close to having catastrophic year.”