Since Jean-Christophe Mau started to work with Stephane Derenoncourt, things have never been better for the wines of Chateau Brown. Did two back to back difficult vintages take its toll on this Pessac Leognan estate? To find out what took place with the 2012 Bordeaux harvest, Jean-Christophe Mau discussed the harvest and the 2012 Bordeaux vintage.
Jeff Leve Having gone through the growing season and harvest, now that your vats are fermenting, what previous year does the 2012 Bordeaux vintage remind you of?
Jean-Christophe Mau “It is still early to compare 2012 with any previous vintages…maybe 2008. If we focus on the balance acidity/fine tannins, but we have to wait the malolactic fermentation to know for sure.”
Jeff Leve What was the most difficult Bordeaux growing season for you at Chateau Brown?
Jean-Christophe Mau “The late development of the plants and a poor flowering period.”
Jeff Leve What special vineyard techniques do you need to do when the flowering is uneven, as it was this year?
Jean-Christophe Mau “To keep the vines safe it required manual work all year long. We also needed to control the yields and avoid contact between the grapes.”
Jeff Leve Was that also the most stressful time for you with the 2012 Bordeaux growing season?
Jean-Christophe Mau “The most stressful was the harvest. It was the most complicated harvest that I have experienced at Chateau Brown . In fact, the cellar master refers to the vintage 1992 as a comparison.”
Jeff Leve Speaking of a comparison, compared with last year’s equally difficult vintage, did you need to spend more or less time on sorting with the 2012 Bordeaux vintage?
Jean-Christophe Mau “It was about the same. We had to perform ultra-selecting sorting on the feet, and then double sorting (bunches and berries) in the vat house. 8 members of staff are dedicated to this job.”
Jeff Leve Did you have problems with botrytis or other issues following the April rains?
Jean-Christophe Mau “During the summer months of June and July, we had to use some treatments to control mildew. “
Jeff Leve What about later, when the conditions changed with more rain at harvest time?
Jeff Leve When did you start harvesting the 2012 Bordeaux vintage?
Jean-Christophe Mau “For the white wines, we picked from September 11 through September 25. For the red wines, we started October 9 and finished October 25.”
Jeff Leve Due to the quick change in the October weather, did you finish picking earlier than anticipated?
Jean-Christophe Mau “Yes definitely! We had finally to rush picking, because of the mild temperatures and the continuously wet conditions, since 7th October.”
Jeff Leve Do you think any grape variety performed better in the 2012 Bordeaux vintage?
Jean-Christophe Mau “Sauvignon Blanc has good ripeness, levels of acidity and is oddly aromatic.”
Jeff Leve What steps are you taking this year during vinification and the elevage?
Jean-Christophe Mau “The next few post-fermentation days will be decisive and will allow us to better assess the quality of the wine. Over the coming months, in order to obtain good structure and avoid a ‘harsh’ vintage with dry tannins, we will have to extract these tannins gently. The wines will also see less barrel aging with 10-12 months instead of the usual 12-15 months.”