Ronan Laborde “Every vintage has its own characteristics and charm. They are all unique. So, truthfully, at this point, I haven’t experienced any similar vintage, in my career.”
Jeff Leve Did you use horses to help farm the 2012 Clinet vintage?
Ronan Laborde “Absolutely! We use horses on the plot where our older vines grow which includes the Grand Vigne. Horses are used for about 20% of the surface.
Jeff Leve Why did you start to use horses for Chateau Clinet?
Ronan Laborde “On this spots with vines are from 50 to 78 years old which produce some of the best grapes of Clinet, we need to be careful. We have to protect this asset, as much as we can. In this way, we mostly use hand work and horses. The horses can work the soil, when necessary, instead of the tractor. Keep in mind, some of these vines have been planted when there were no tractors!”
Jeff Leve What are some of the advantages to using horses?
Ronan Laborde “The horses are smaller than the tractor. So they are able to take better care for the vines, by not hurting the grapes or the vines. Also, the horses are lighter, so they compact less the soil, which is better.”
Jeff Leve What caused you the most problems in your Pomerol vineyards?
Ronan Laborde “With the 2012 Clinet, we experienced a few stressful parts, for us. In April, it was rainy, so we had to be very careful with the mildew. Next, during the summer time, from the middle of July all the way to September 20, it didn’t rain at all. The result of the drought was that our vines were quite restrained.”
Jeff Leve In the end result, was the drought positive for you?
Ronan Laborde “Well, for the young vines, it was more challenging. For the older vines, the drought and stress are good for the 2012 Clinet.”
Jeff Leve Did you also experience problems with uneven flowering?
Ronan Laborde “Yes. The flowering was tough and on the old Merlot grapes, there was also some millerandage. So, we had to be very careful. During the growing season, we went into the vineyards several times to green harvest.”
Jeff Leve Was it difficult for you to decide on when to pick the 2012 Clinet?
Ronan Laborde “At the end of the growing season, we had tough time deciding on the right date to start harvesting. It was more difficult than usual as the weather forecast was not very precise this year.”
Jeff Leve When did you start and finishing your Right Bank vineyards?
Ronan Laborde “We started the 2012 Clinet harvest, September 8 with the Merlot. We did not finish until October 10!”
Jeff Leve Is 2012 Clinet one of your latest harvests?
Ronan Laborde “For us, these dates were classic harvest dates. For example 2008 was a later harvest date.”
Jeff Leve Did the October rains cause you to finish picking earlier than you would have liked?
Ronan Laborde “Slightly, but for just a few parts of our vineyards. With those small areas, we had the feeling we could have waited more. But we are used to that. I remember 2006 vintage, especially, and the wines were extremely good.”
Jeff Leve Did that share any similarities with the 2011 Bordeaux vintage?
Ronan Laborde “Interestingly, as in 2011, both vintages had an early start. But for 2012 Clinet, the main harvest days were concentrated in late September through early October.”
Jeff Leve What were the harvest conditions like for you?
Ronan Labordea “The weather conditions were very good for the 2012 Clinet picking.”
Jeff Leve Did you stop working in the vineyards during the rains?
Ronan Laborde “We only experienced short periods of rain starting September 20. We stopped harvesting on those dates because we never pick during the rainfalls.”
Jeff Leve How many people do you employ to work in the vineyards and at the sorting tables?
Ronan Laborde We bought in 30 pickers and 16 people to work at the sorting tables.”
Jeff Leve Did you bring back optical sorting this year?
Ronan Laborde “No. We tried it last year, but only for one day. At Clinet, we still believe in our employees for sorting. So we did not use it again.”
Jeff Leve Did you alter your work in the vineyards at all this year?
Ronan Laborde “Yes, we have changed our harvest strategies, compared to the previous years. Now we are spending more sorting in the vineyards.”
Jeff Leve What are your yields with the 2012 Clinet?
Ronan Laborde “That’s the sad point for us with the 2012 Clinet. The yields are low. We will be at 35 hectoliters per hectare in this vintage.”
Jeff Leve How do your alcohol levels compare with recent, previous vintages of Chateau Clinet?
Ronan Laborde “The alcohol levels are lower than 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. We are around slightly more than 13% with our 2012 Clinet.”
Jeff Leve When was the last time you reached alcohol levels close to 13%?
Ronan Laborde “Well, it was a long time ago! Since the vintage 2000, Château CLINET has always produced wines over that level of alcohol.”
Jeff Leve Will you be using grapes from the vines you recently purchased in the 2012 Chateau Clinet?
Ronan Laborde “Yes, at least 50% will go into 2012 Chateau Clinet . The other grapes will be used to produce our second label, Fleur de Clinet.”