Benoit Trocard manages to watch over the production of two Bordeaux wines, Clos Dubreuil in St. Emilion and Vieille Eglise in Pomerol. We managed to catch Trocard for a few minutes to discuss the 2011 Bordeaux harvest and fermentation of the wine.
Jeff Leve: What are your early thoughts on the 2011 Clos Dubreuil vintage?
Trocard “After a very dry and warm spring we have had a cloudy and wet summer. The challenge was then to enhance the green harvest and the thinning out of the leaves to ensure a better ripening of the grapes. At the beginning of September a strong rain came and disturbed the vintage, but fortunately on clay and limestone the grapes did not suffer of it. So at the time of the harvest I have a substantial amount of grapes with a perfect ripening on the Merlot and the Cabernet Franc with beautiful balance and incredible fresh fruits. The sun and very warm weather of the past two weeks has allowed us to finish the ripening with no rot. The grapes are now in tanks for the cold maceration and I have the impression that I will make a very fruit orientated wine with a good structure and very fresh with lower alcohol than the previous vintages”.
Jeff Leve: 2010 is known in part for the combination of high alcohol and low pH. What do you think the 2011 Clos Dubreuil vintage will be known for?
Trocard: “It will be known for Balance and fruit. But we still have to wait the end of the post maceration to really know”.
Jeff Leve: What effect does an early harvest have on the style of your wines and the level of phenolic ripeness in the grapes for 2011 Clos Dubreuil?
Trocard: “My grand-father has always told me that an early vintage is a good vintage. An early vintage allows me to wait for the perfect ripeness as the weather is usually more stable in September”.
Jeff Leve: Did the drought present you with any unique challenges with the 2011 wine harvest?
Trocard: “When the rains came, I think it was too late for some vines that were already suffering. They did not recover even with the rain. Some bunches ripen differently. The challenge this year is the sorting of the berries. We can see some very ripe grapes as well as a lot of green and pink berries”.
Jeff Leve: “With 2011, do you have fears of rot? If so, what are doing to avoid that issue?”
Trocard: “We have seen some rot a little everywhere. The solution I have adopted is waiting for the best bunches to be picked and eliminate the ones with rot. This was possible because bunches were spread out on the vines without touching each other so they could not contaminate other bunches”.
Jeff Leve: What yields do you expect from the 2011 Bordeaux harvest?
Trocard: “I expect around 35 hectoliters per hectare.”
Jeff Leve: Now that you are in the process of fermentation, what specific choices will you need to make at this time for your St. Emilion and Pomerol estates?
Trocard: “For Clos Dubreuil I do not know yet. For Vieille Eglise in Pomerol; the extraction was very fast. I have worked at low temperatures with a slow extraction. I stopped the pumping over at the end of the fermentation and decided to touch the tanks only once a day for 2 minutes and then while it was dry, every two days for 2 minutes. I think I will try the same process at Clos Dubreuil and adapt it to colder soils. The results on the freshness of the fruit and the velvety structure of high tannin level makes me very happy”.
Jeff Leve: What previous Bordeaux vintage does 2011 Bordeaux remind you of?
Trocard: “It is a very complicated question. It is very close to 2008 and 1999. I still think we can have some good surprises….more 2008 than 1999”.
Jeff Leve: What are your potential alcohol levels, pH numbers and IPT numbers?
Trocard: “Alcohol level is 14 to 14,5, Ph is around 3,6 to 3,7 and IPT numbers I still have to wait the end of the fermentation but it should be very closed to 100”.