Jeff Leve 2013 Brane Cantenac is going to be a small harvest. What are your yields this year?
Christophe Capdeville “Due to a very severe selection, we have 22 hectoliters per hectare. We eliminated between 12 and 15% of the crop.”
Jeff Leve Did you experience coulure with one grape variety, or with the entire vineyard this year?
Jeff Leve How much did that reduce your Merlot crop then?
Christophe Capdeville “With the Merlot, our yields are only 16 hectoliters per hectare.”
Jeff Leve What about the Cabernet Sauvignon?
Christophe Capdeville “Much better, we are at 30 hectoliters per hectare.”
Jeff Leve What took place during the 2013 Brane Cantenac growing season as afar as excess water in the vines?
Christophe Capdeville “The winter and the months of June and July, due to two huge storms were both very wet. This was contrary to the remainder of the year. August and September were particularly dry. In fact we had a hydric deficit.”
Jeff Leve Following the storms, with so much water in the vines, how did you deal with the heat spikes in July?
Christophe Capdeville “We had to de-leaf so as to aerate the bunches making sure not to remove too many leaves in order to avoid the parching of the grapes.”
Jeff Leve What took place in the later part of the growing season in the Medoc?
Christophe Capdeville “We had somewhat of an Indian summer in October, yes but certainly not in August. October was warm and humid. with high temperatures. At times is even had a tropical feel.”
Jeff Leve Did the 2013 Bordeaux vintage require a lot of sorting?
Christophe Capdeville “Yes, a lot because of the millerandage and coulure, as well as botrytis.”
Jeff Leve At Brane Cantenac, you were one of the first chateaux to take advantage of optical sorting. Did you use optical sorting this year?
Christophe Capdeville “Oh yessssssssssssss! It was indispensable! We used it to sort out the botrytised or unripe berries.”
Jeff Leve In a difficult vintage like 2013, did organic farming techniques help?
Christophe Capdeville “On the contrary. The parcels that are cultivated organically were more sensitive to botrytis thus more fragile. Botrytis appeared earlier on organically treated parcels.”
Jeff Leve What actions did you take to avoid rot this year?
Christophe Capdeville “We de-eafed, green harvested and used anti botrytis treatments.”
Jeff Leve When did you begin harvesting?
Christophe Capdeville “We started with the young Merlot vines on September 25. It is important to keep in mind that the terroir of Margaux and most particularly Brane Cantenac is a very precocious one.”
Jeff Leve When did you complete the 2013 Brane Cantenac harvest?
Christophe Capdeville “We finished on October 7.”
Jeff Leve Is the 2013 Brane Cantenac a later harvest for you?
Christophe Capdeville “No. Actually, the harvest started earlier than expected, pretty much in par with previous ones. One had to make sure not to start too late this year. The date of harvest was totally determinant! If you started too late, the botrytis developed at the speed of light overnight. That would have altered the quality of the vintage irreversibly!”
Jeff Leve Does that mean you picked earlier than anticipated?
Christophe Capdeville “Yes but in addition to what I explained previously, this is also because our grapes were ripe due to our precocious terroir. The two phenomena are always combined.”
Jeff Leve With that in mind, were you forced to pick at a faster pace than usual?
Christophe Capdeville “Yes without a doubt. One had to rush this year!
Jeff Leve Is 2013 Bordeaux going to be a Cabernet Sauvignon vintage?
Christophe Capdeville “Yes, no doubt.”
Jeff Leve Can you describe the character and style of your Cabernet Sauvignon?
Christophe Capdeville “In the 2013 vintage, the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are very ripe and do not show any vegetal trait. They are full of color with lots of aroma, and a real tannic power.”
Jeff Leve Did you chaptalize with 2013 Brane Cantenac?
Christophe Capdeville “Yes, we needed to chaptalize this year as we had to compensate for the low sugar level: +0,5 to 1% by volume.”
Jeff Leve What are your alcohol and pH levels?
Christophe Capdeville “The Merlot ranges from 12.5% to 13.5% the pH is 3.5 to 3.59. The Cabernet Sauvignon is between 12.5% to 13.3% and the pH 3.47 to 3.64.”
Jeff Leve In this vintage, what will you do during the vinification and elevage?
Christophe Capdeville “Once we finished sorting, it was clear that the grapes were ripe, therefore one did not have to fear vinifying and looking for extraction. As usual we favored partial pumpovers and delestages, which means emptying the vats entirely. The fermentation temperatures were between 27 Celsius and 29° Celsius. We also favored doing the malolactic fermentation in 80% new, French oak barrels to give roundness and ‘fat’ to the wine.
Jeff Leve How much oak do you expect to use to age the 2013 Brane Cantenac?
Christophe Capdeville “The ‘elevage’ (ageing) will help flatter the potential of the wine making it more expressive than it is today. We will probably end up aging the wine in about 70% new, French oak barrels.”