Philippe Moureau “With the 2012 Pichon Lalande, the Merlot matured earlier, thus they were picked in good conditions without overmaturation. This allowed us to avoid too high a degree of alcohol. In spite of the unstable weather of the last few days during the harvest, the Cabernets also achieved a good level of maturity. “
Jeff Leve What previous growing does the 2012 Bordeaux vintage remind you of?
Philippe Moureau “The 2012 vintage is a mixture of issues we had to deal with in previous vintages. 2012 Bordeaux can be characterized by too much humidity in the spring. This resulted in some drips and millerandage. We also experienced a summer drought. That caused the vines to stop maturing. The season has been difficult in the vineyard. You can call 2012 Bordeaux a winemaker’s vintage.”
Jeff Leve What was the most difficult or stressful part of the growing season for the 2012 Pichon Lalande that made it a wine makers vintage?
Philippe Moureau “We faced some challenges throughout the season. Those problems took place early with the bud break and the flowering.”
Jeff Leve What did you do at that point?
Philippe Moureau “For the 2012 Pichon Lalande, we had to be very reactive in our daily works, and particularly to protect the vines against the mildew. We had to change a few habits in order to adapt to the climate. This meant we had to be more severe with leaf removal, because of the early humidity in the season. We conducted the thinning in two phases, before veraison which helped to eliminate millerandage and tight clusters, and after the veraison to eliminate non matured grapes”
Jeff Leve Did the drought and stress present you with unique challenges?
Philippe Moureau “The effects varied along the plots because the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc are more resistant than the Merlot. Plus, with our soils, the levels of clay and limestone helped the vines to resist the drought. The drought slowed down the maturity of the grapes which is part of the reason the harvest was late.”
Jeff Leve When did you start and end your harvest for the 2012 Pichon Lalande?
Philippe Moureau “We started to pick October 2. The harvest officially ended October 15.”
Jeff Leve What were the conditions like for you during the 2012 Bordeaux harvest?
Philippe Moureau “Fortunately, the uneven weather at the end of the harvest we experienced for a few days did not cause problems. The fruit remained in excellent sanitary conditions because the vines were not overloaded.”
Jeff Leve Did that cause you to pick earlier than you anticipated?
Philippe Moureau “Just 2 or 3 days earlier. Not a lot.”
Jeff Leve How many pickers did you employ?
Philippe Moureau “We employed a total of 140 pickers.”
Jeff Leve Compared to 2011, did you need to spend more or less time on sorting this year?
Philippe Moureau “Sorting for us with the 2012 Pichon Lalande has been just as important this year as it was with 2011. We had to remove the scalded and under ripe berries and those with a botrytis. This meticulous sorting was been done in the vineyards, during the harvest and also in the winery. It was important to use optical sorting in this vintage. Optical sorting was a great additional tool to optimize the sorting we needed.”
Jeff Leve Did you purchase any new equipment or renovate your wine making facilities this year at Pichon Lalande?
Philippe Moureau “Indeed, we acquired a new destemmer from Bucher, “the Oscillys”, which was very efficient in sorting the berries. This tool has been very important this year. We also invested in an optical sorting “Vistalys” as well aswith new vessels better adapted to vinification. These new stainless steel tanks are double skinned, which allow for better fermentation kinetics, which gives smoother, softer and easier extractions.”
Jeff Leve What are your yields this year?
Philippe Moureau “We will be close to 30 hectoliters per hectare in the 2012 Bordeaux vintage.”
Jeff Leve What about your alcohol levels with the 2012 Pichon Lalande?
Philippe Moureau “The Merlot is close to 13.5% and the Cabernet is lower at about 12.5%.”
Jeff Leve What steps are you taking this year during vinification of the 2012 Pichon Lalande?
Philippe Moureau “For the vinification, it was important to use only the best berries and at the same time, pursue the work that we have done in the recent years. We are focusing on a soft and slow extraction to preserve the elegance and roundness of the wine.”