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2012 Beychevelle New Vintage, New Winemaker in St. Julien

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Jeff Leve Even though 2012 Beychevelle is your first vintage at the estate, using a sense of historical weather patterns, does this year remind you of previous vintages?

Romain Ducolomb ”By definition,  every vintage, especially in Bordeaux, is always different year to year. But in terms of weather conditions, 2012 has some similarity with 2000 and 2009. Those were vintages with big contrasts in their temperature and hygrometry between spring and the end of the growing season, from the middle of July until the harvest.”

Jeff Leve With that in mind, what caused you the most trouble with 2012 Beychevelle during the growing season?

Romain Ducolomb ‘’Due to the cool, humid spring that led to a late development of the vines, 2012 has been a challenging year with disease like mildew in the first part of the vintage.”

Jeff Leve What did you need to do to turn things around for the 2012 Beychevelle?

Romain Ducolomb “Thanks to well-balanced vineyards that did not have too much vigor and efforts with leaf removal, we have been able to face the challenging weather conditions. By doing green harvesting, we homogenized the maturity of the 2012 Beychevelle crop.”

Jeff Leve What about the drought? How did that affect you?

Romain Ducolomb “It caused stress to the vines which reduced our yields significantly with the 2012 Beychevelle.”

Jeff Leve What are your yields with the 2012 Beychevelle?

Romain Ducolomb “In St. Julien we ended up with 42 hectoliters per hectare.  It was quite different with our other terroir. In the Haut Medoc the vineyards were more drought affected with their high share of young vines. That gave us only 27 hectoliters per hectare.”

Jeff Leve Which of your Medoc terroirs performed best this year?

Romain Ducolomb “As the vintage was late this year, the gravel, close to the river with the cooler terroirs of St Julien.”

Jeff Leve How did the late harvest affect you with the 2012 Beychevelle growing season?

Romain Ducolomb “It was positive. The nice weather conditions we experienced at the end of the vintage, called “été indien”, plus our terroir, which is one of the earliest in the St. Julien appellation, made the difference.”

Jeff Leve When did you start harvesting and finishing harvesting the 2012 Bordeaux vintage?

Romain Ducolomb “We started on September 27 with our young, 3 year old vines.  Those vines were the most affected by dry conditions. We finished harvesting Cabernet Sauvignon October 18.”

Jeff Leve What were the conditions like for you during harvesting?

Romain Ducolomb “The first part of the picking was in sunny and warm conditions. Then the weather became cooler and cloudy.”

Jeff Leve With the lateness of the vintage and the rapid change in the October weather, did you finish picking earlier than anticipated?

Romain Ducolomb “When the weather changed in October, we had already picked our young vines and some old vine Merlot. By then we didn’t have to speed up our harvest.”

Jeff Leve How many pickers did you employ?

Romain Ducolomb “Around 100 people were needed this year.”

Jeff Leve Have you considered optical sorting this year?

Romain Ducolomb “No, we didn’t use it for the moment. At this point, we didn’t observe a great impact of this machine compared to the traditional way by hand.  We still prefer the judgment of the human than the one of the machine!”

Jeff Leve Do you spend more time sorting at the reception area, or in the vineyards?

Romain Ducolomb “We sort more of the grapes essentially directly in the vineyards when the berries are picked.”

Jeff Leve Are you still in the process of renovating at Chateau Beychevelle?

Romain Docolomb “Yes, we are working on building a new winery. This is good because it also brings is the opportunity of try new equipment we can use in the future. For example, sorting tables, destemmers, concrete tanks, stainless steel tanks and more! We even tried the new Bucher destemmer called Oscillys. We were quite satisfied with the results.”

Jeff Leve What are your alcohol levels with your 2012 Beychevelle?

Romain Ducolomb “We are between 13% and 13.3% alcohol this year.”

 

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