Chateau Corbin is one of the older properties in the St. Emilion appellation. Yet, until recently, the wines have not garnered attention. That changed with the 2010 vintage! The wines are now showing more purity and greater depth of flavor. The estate is located not far from the St. Emilion, Pomerol border. With their sand and clay terroir, how did they handle the extremes of the 2011 Bordeaux growing season? To find out, we asked Anabelle Cruse.
Jeff Leve: The 2011 Corbin growing season has been difficult for many growers. Are you happy with your results?
Anabelle Cruse “We are very happy so far with our 2011 Corbin”.
Jeff Leve: What did you do to adapt to the difficult 2011 Bordeaux vintage?
Anabelle Cruse “In the very early spring, we changed our methods for working in the vineyards. For example, we removed the grass from the middle of the rows. Also after flowering, we did not deleaf the vines this year”.
Jeff Leve: When did you begin harvesting your grapes for the 2011 Corbin vintage?
Anabelle Cruse “We started with the Merlot September 16 and we finished with the Cabernet Franc October 4”.
Jeff Leve: How would you describe the 2011 Corbin growing season?
Anabelle Cruse “We have never seen anything like this. Summer came before spring and spring went all the way into into July! We had more water in August than usual and summer arrived in September. 2011 is definitely is a very dry and early growing season for us with the 2011 Corbin”.
Jeff Leve: Were the August rains enough to help your vines?
Anabelle Cruse “The rains helped. But it was not quite enough water for our vines.”
Jeff Leve: With an early harvest, the draught, bouts of cool weather and the blast of heat in September, were you able to get the level of phenolic ripeness in the grapes you were hoping for?
Anabelle Cruse “At Corbin, I decided to pick each plot very late to make sure we g0t the maximum level of phenolic ripeness possible with 2011 Corbin”.
Jeff Leve: With 2011 Corbin, did you have fears of rot?
Anabelle Cruse “Everybody had fears of rot. We did a good job to fight it. The bunches were healthy, thanks to a good pruning. The soil was clean and without any herbs under the rows which helped us to avoid humidity. Also, we did not panic when we saw some berries with botrytis”.
Jeff Leve: Did you add more people to help with the sorting?
Anabelle Cruse “We asked the pickers to sort very well in the vineyard and again at the cellar. We added more people to help us sort as well. Out ratio for the 2011 Bordeaux harvest was 1 person sorting for every 2 pickers”.
Jeff Leve: With all the extra sorting, what yields do you expect this year?
Anabelle Cruse “Around 42 hl/ha”.
Jeff Leve: What are you doing with your vinification?
Anabelle Cruse “It is important to obtain a gentle extraction this year”.
Jeff Leve: How are things coming along in the cellar for you with your 2011 Bordeaux?
Anabelle Cruse “We have a very dark color in our wine. The wine is lower in alcohol than we had in the 2010 Bordeaux vintage at between 13.5 – 14%. We also have more acidity. Our pH is 3.66. We spent less time on the maceration. We ended up with a very good extraction of the tannins. Our wine should be well balanced”.
Jeff Leve : What previous St. Emilion vintage does 2011 remind you of?
Anabelle Cruse “None, it is unique and that is the reason we like it!”