In 2010, Jean Christophe took a job with the Adams family. I’m talking about the other Adams family, the American owners of two well-known Right Bank estates, Chateau Fonplegade and in St. Emilion and Chateau L’Enclos in Pomerol. That gives Jean Christophe Meyrou a unique vantage point to look at the 2012 Bordeaux vintage as he’s involved with the production of wines from both of the major Right Bank appellations.
Jeff Leve: What is the most difficult part of managing two different Bordeaux estates?
Jean Christophe Meyrou “Pomerol and St. Emilion are so close in distance. But they are so different in their terroirs and approach. Every year we have to face two different challenges with these terroirs. For me and my technical team, it is always a great experience to share our work on two different areas. It brings us more experience.”
Jeff Leve From the growing season point of view, what previous vintage does the 2012 Fonplegade remind you of?
Jean Christope Meyrou “The season starts like 2000 with very difficult climatic condition, the Indian summer, started early September like in 2008 with a very late harvest in St Emilion and Pomerol.”
Jeff Leve Was there any part of the growing season that was truly difficult for you?
Jean Christophe Meyrou “The spring part of the growing season was very difficult due to the uneven flowering and rain.” As we work using organic farming techniques, we had to be in the vines every day in all the plots to make sure the vines were disease free.”
Jeff Leve You mentioned uneven flowering with the 2012 Fonplegade. What special vineyard techniques do you need to do when the flowering is uneven, as it was this year?
Jean Christophe Meyrou It’s quite easy. We perform two green harvests. One in July which let us avoid having too much fruit on one plant. And we do another one in August to cut bunches that will not ripen fully. Of course, all this work means less production this year.”
Jeff Leve How did you deal with the drought with your 2012 Fonplegade. Was it a problem?
Jean Christophe Meyrou “It was less of an issue than we experienced with 2003. We had a bit of hydric stress on young plants. But we were lucky as got some rain at the right moment. The end result was, we had no problems in Pomerol or St. Emilion.”
Jeff Leve With the 2012 Fonplegade, which of your terroirs performed best?
Jean Christophe Meyrou “In St. Emilion at Chateau Fonplegade, we are quite pleased that the limestone soils reacted very well this year. Luckily the limestone soils are 80% of our terroir!”
Jeff Leve When did you start harvesting 2012 Fonplegade?
Jean Christophe Meyrou “We began harvesting the young vine Merlot at Chateau Fonpleagde October 8. We finished all the picking with the Cabernet October 12.”
Jeff Leve What was the weather like during picking?
Jean Christophe Meyrou “With the 2012 Fonplegade, we harvested with no rain and not a lot of sun,. But this was not bad as it helped to avoid oxidation of the berries. We harvested much quicker than usual, with a bigger team. When our parcels reached the level of maturity we wanted, we went very quickly.”
Jeff Leve Does that mean you ended up picking 2012 Fonplegade earlier than anticipated?
Jean Christophe Meyrou “We were lucky. We selected the right week to harvest. We finished just before the rains. It was important for us to finish before, because the rain would have cause dilution to the grapes .”
Jeff Leve How would you describe the fruit you harvested?
Jean Christophe Meyrou “We harvested small, ripe berries. The grapes did not offer a lot of juice, but the quality is there.”
Jeff Leve If you had to pick, which variety performed best for you in the 2012 Bordeaux vintage?
Jean Christophe Meyrou “To this, there is no discussion, it’s the Merlot!”
Jeff Leve Last year, sorting was more important than ever. Compared to 2011, how much sorting do you need to perform?
Jean Christophe Meyrou “We spent less time sorting 2012 Fonplegade than we did last year. We used the optical sorting table again, along with two manual sorting tables. Optical sorting was a luxury. Our targets are very high in terms of quality. We prefer to lose more berries due to a more stringent selection.”
Jeff Leve What changes did you make to your barrel program to produce 2012 Fonplegade?
Jean Christophe Meyrou “We invested in 500 liter barrels in order to do micro vinification for 15% of the production of the 2012 Fonplegade.”
Jeff Leve With all the sorting required, what are your yields in St. Emilion?
Jean Christophe Meyrou “This is the problem of the vintage. With 2012 Fonplegade, we will be between 30 hectoliters per hectare and 32 hectoliters per hectare.
Jeff Leve What yields would you prefer?
Jean Christophe Meyrou “Normally we want to reach 35 hectoliters per hectare.”
Jeff Leve What are your alcohol levels?
Jean Christophe Meyrou “In St. Emilion with 2012 Fonplegade, we should be at 14% alcohol.”
Jeff Leve What steps are you taking during vinification and the elevage?
Jean Christophe Meyrou “For this vintage, the fruit will undergo a 5 day, cold maceration. The wine will receive 3 manual pigeages and three pumping overs with a peristaltic pump. A hot maceration that will be between 28 degrees Celsius and 30 degrees Celsius and malolactic fermentation will take place in barrel.”