Prior to Emmanuel Cruse taking over the job of managing Chateau d’Issan in 1998, the estate was a consistent underperformer. Today, that is not the case. Each vintage has shown a marked improvement in quality. 2009 Chateau d’Issan is a very strong Bordeaux wine and the 2010 d’Issan could be even better! 2011 Bordeaux is a difficult year for many owners. Emmanuel Cruse discusses the vintage and lets us know what is taking place at Chateau d’Issan.
Jeff Leve: How would you describe the 2011 d’Issan growing season?
Emmanuel Cruse: “The 2011 d’Issan growing season started early. We enjoyed an early and very warm spring. Overall, the summer was moderate. In late June, June 26 and June 27, we experienced high temperatures. At the end of June, the life cycle of the vines slowed down. Thanks to the cooler climate in July, we obtained a homogenization in the ‘veraison.’ Our September was superb”!
Jeff Leve: Were you vines stressed from the drought in the 2011 d’Issan growing season?
Emmanuel Cruse: “We did not suffer from water stress in our vineyards. The very high, (40°) temperatures, we experienced at the end of June affected some parcels of Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Sauvignon is more sensitive to the high temperatures than Merlot. The stress does not affect the quality. But it reduces the yield. This means at Chateau d’Issan, our 2011 Bordeaux harvest will be a smaller harvest than normal”.
Jeff Leve: What yields do you expect this year with 2011 d’Issan ?
Emmanuel Cruse: “We should have 35 hectoliters per hectare with the 2011 d’Issan”.
Emmanuel Cruse: “Of course we took advantage of the warm weather! It was dry and windy. It was ideal for a good maturity and quality of the grapes”.
Jeff Leve: When did you begin and end your harvest for the 2011 d’Issan?
Emmanuel Cruse: “We started harvesting the 2011 Bordeaux vintage September 12 and did not finish until we reached September 26”.
Jeff Leve: Is 2011 d’Issan your earliest harvest?
Emmanuel Cruse: “Yes. 2011 d’Issan is the earliest harvest at Chateau d’Issan since I began at the property. An early harvest doesn’t have any effect on the style of the wines. The quality is made throughout the growing season”.
Jeff Leve: Did you add new equipment?
Emmanuel Cruse: “We bought a new de-stemmer. This helped us with the drastic sorting we had to do”.
Jeff Leve: What specific choices will you make during the vinification for 2011?
Emmanuel Cruse: “We are focused on moderate temperatures during the vinification. We are seeking a soft extraction. We also desire a long fermentation of the skins in the vats. That should last for about 30 days”.
Jeff Leve: What are your potential alcohol levels and pH numbers for the 2011 Bordeaux vintage?
Emmanuel Cruse: “Alcohol is about 13° or slightly higher. Our pH ranges from 3.5 to 3.7”.