2011 Fleur Cardinale Harvests Late, for 2011 St. Emilion Vintage


Chateau Fleur Cardinale produced one of the top 2010 St. Emilion wines.  The wine is a contender to be the best vintage for the Decoster’s yet.  It is probably at the same level as the outstanding 2005!  But 2005 and 2010 were easy vintages to make at Fleur Cardinale.  The same thing cannot be said about their tenth anniversary vintage.  How did they handle the troublesome 2011 Fleur Cardinale Bordeaux vintage? Florence Decoster discussed the vintage with us.

Jeff Leve: Have you been able to take advantage of the warm weather Bordeaux is currently experiencing with your 2011 2011 Fleur Cardinale?

Florence Decoster: “Definitively!  We were almost the last chateau to start to harvest the 2011 Bordeaux vintage in St. Emilion. Thanks to the high amount of sunshine and warmth during the last the month, we should be able to produce a high quality level of wine for our 2011 Fleur Cardinale”.

Jeff Leve What date did you start and finish harvesting each of your 2011 Fleur Cardinale grapes?

Florence Decoster: “We started to harvest Merlot, September 29. We completed picking
the Merlot, October 9″.

Jeff Leve: Have you started to harvest your Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc yet?

Florence Decoster: “We plan on starting our Cabernet harvest, Monday, October 17”.

Jeff Leve: “Will you be producing 2011 Secret de Cardinale?

Florence Decoster: “Yes. The production will be close to 400 cases”.

Jeff Leve: How much sorting were you forced to do with the 2011 Fleur Cardinale vintage?

Florence Decoster: “A lot of strict sorting went into this vintage. With the help of our Tribaie sorting machine, we were able to remove the bad berries”.

Jeff Leve:  With the 2011 Fleur Cardinale, does September 29 mark your earliest harvest since you purchased the property?

Florence Decoster: “We started to harvest 10 days earlier with the 2003 Bordeaux vintage.”

Jeff Leve: What are your potential alcohol levels with the 2011 vintage?

Florence Decoster: “We should reach around 14.5%. We will be close to the levels of alcohol we achieved in 2009 and 200. The acidity and pH analysis already realized are outstanding as well”.

Jeff Leve: How would you describe the 2011 Bordeaux growing season?

Florence Decoster: “We suffered drought periods during spring and all over the month of September. We also had rainy weather in July and August which helped. Right before the harvest, the high daily temperatures and the fresh nights we get starting in the middle of September were the perfect gift.”

Jeff Leve: You mentioned the drought during the spring. Is the character of the 2011 Bordeaux vintage going to be shaped by the stress the vines suffered?

Florence Decoster: “Yes, definitely that is a part of the vintages character. However, we did not suffer so much from the hydric stress, thanks to our clay and limestone soil. Now that we are in October, we can look back to the end of September when the leaf density was perfectly balanced, which helped the grapes achieve a degree of maturation we were looking for”.

Jeff Leve: Do you use any technology to help with extra sorting needed with the 2011?

Florence Decoster: “We used a new density-sorting machine which allows us to improve the sorting quality and remove more of the bad grapes.  It’s the Triabe system which sorts fruit based on the levels of sugar concentration.  It runs the grapes through a bath using specific gravity or density, it separates ripe berries from the less ripe ones while washing the berries as they go through the bath and removes impurities, petioles, rotten skins, etc.”.

Jeff Leve: What previous Bordeaux vintage does 2011 remind you of?

Florence Decoster: “The tannic taste and structure might remind us of the 2004 Bordeaux vintage”.

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