2012 Chateau Margaux Paul Pontallier Interview on the Vintage, Harvest



Jeff Leve Does the 2012 Chateau Margaux growing season remind of any previous vintage?

Paul Pontallier “The 2012 weather conditions are similar to those of 2000.We’ll see when tasting the wines this winter if the quality of the 2012 can pretend to reach the level of 2000.”

Jeff Leve What part of the growing season did you find the most difficult?

Paul Pontallier “With the 2012 Margaux, it was probably the rainy spring as it created favorable conditions for the mildew to develop.”

 Jeff Leve Is that exacerbated by your continuing organic farming techniques?

 Paul Pontallier “All the more so, as we are definitely involved in an organic vine growing approach at Chateau Margaux. In the 2012 Bordeaux vintage, the most serious threat we faced was mildew, which we successfully managed to control.”

Jeff Leve Did 2012 Margaux vintage require the amount of sorting demanded by the 2011 vintage?

Paul Pontallier “Much less sorting was required in 2012 than we needed to perform in 2011. In 2011, we had to very carefully sort the clusters that were burnt with the heavy heat which occurred at the end of June.”

Jeff Leve Did you experience problems with uneven flowering?

Paul Pontallier “Flowering was not especially uneven at Margaux. So it was not a problem for the 2012 Margaux.  When it is, which very rarely happens, we can cut the clusters whose color hasn’t changed. “

Jeff Leve Did the drought and stress present you with any unique challenges?

Paul Pontallier “Not really This is probably the privilege of great terroirs.”

Jeff Leve When did you start harvesting the 2012 Margaux?

Paul Pontallier “While we picked some Merlot plots before October 1, the harvest officially started October 1.  We finished picking on October 15.”

 Jeff Leve Due to the quick change in the October weather, did you finish picking earlier than anticipated?

 Paul Pontallier “Well, interestingly, the opposite took place. We eventually finished 3 or 4 days later than we thought!”

 Jeff Leve What were the conditions like during the harvest?

 Paul Pontallier “They were ok. There was some rain at the beginning of the harvest. After that, it was reasonably dry.”

Jeff Leve How many pickers did you employ for the 2012 Margaux harvest?

Paul Pontallier “We employ 240 harvesters.”

Jeff Leve Are you continuing to experiment with optical sorting at Chateau Margaux?

Paul Pontallier “Yes, we repeated an optical sorting experiment that we started last year. Like last year, optical sorting did not prove that useful as the grapes are being very efficiently sorted in the vineyard by our pickers.”

Jeff Leve Did any varietal turn out better in the 2012 Bordeaux vintage for you?

Paul Pontallier “I don’t think that 2012 allowed one variety to perform better than another. As usual, because of our terroir, the Cabernet Sauvignon will be better than the Merlot.”

Jeff Leve What are your alcohol levels for the 2012 Margaux?

Paul Pontallier “In 2012, we have precisely what we want at Margaux: around 13%, rather 13.5% for the Merlot and 12.8% for the Cabernet Sauvignon.”


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