2013 Chateau Brown Lowest Yields Ever, Jean Christophe Mau Interview


Grape Harvest

Jeff Leve How would you describe the 2013 Bordeaux vintage for you in Pessac Leognan?

Jean Christophe Mau “2013 was certainly the most difficult year with bad conditions on everything.”

Jeff Leve Stepping back a bit, how was your flowering?

Jean Christophe Mau “Truthfully, not good and it was very late. The flowering started in a rainy period. This helps to explain why the yields are so low.”

Jeff Leve Did you experience coulure with one specific grape variety, or with the entire vineyard during the 2013 Chateau Brown growing season?

Jean Christophe Mau “it was mainly with the Merlot.”

Jeff Leve With that in mind, what are your yields going to be with the 2013 Chateau Brown wines?

Jean Christophe Mau “For our red 2013 Chateau Brown, we are at 34 hectoliters per hectare. For our white Bordeaux wine, we have a little more wine as we are at 35 hectoliters per hectare.”

Jeff Leve Looking at specific varieties, what are your yields for your Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon?

Jean Christophe Mau “Only 25 hectoliters per hectare for the Merlot and 40 hectoliters for the Cabernet Sauvignon.”

Jeff Leve Do you have an idea as to what percentage of the crop you place in the 2013 Chateau Brown Grand Vin?

Jean Christophe Mau “This is too early to say for the 2013 Chateau Brown wine. The runnings-off are not yet finished and the malolactic fermentation has not started yet.”

Jeff Leve With the moisture in the vines, how did you deal with the heat spikes in July?

Jean Christophe Mau “Here at Brown, the rot arrived only at the end of September.”

Jeff Leve Did you suffer damage from the late July storm?

Jean Christophe Mau “We fortunately had no hail. Instead we had a lot of rain in the vineyard which in the end did not cause serious damage. We had damage in one part of our barrel cellar, the roof tumbled down with the weight of rain!”

Jeff Leve What were your thoughts when you began experiencing Indian summer conditions in August?

Jean Christophe Mau “After the super conditions in July, we thought the 2013 Chateau Brown would be a big vintage with low yields. We weren’t really worried in August. The conditions in the 2013 Bordeaux vintage went wrong after that.”

Jeff Leve How much sorting did you need to do this year?

Jean Christophe Mau “As usual we conducted one sorting in the vineyard and two more in the cellar. The difference was the sorting in the vineyard, it was much more accurate.”

Jeff Leve When did you begin harvesting your 2013 Bordeaux crop?

Jean Christophe Mau For the white wines, we started to pick the Semillon September 18. We moved to the Sauvignon Blanc on September 24. We began working on the Merlot October 1 and started with the Cabernet Sauvignon harvest one week later, October 8. We picked our last grape October 16.”

Jeff Leve Is the 2013 Bordeaux harvest, the latest vintage for you at Chateau Brown?

Jean Christophe Mau “No, 2008 and 2011 were both later vintages.”

Jeff Leve Did you harvest earlier than anticipated, due to the late September conditions which could bring about botrytis?

Jean Christophe Mau “Yes, we started picking as soon as rot appeared.”

Jeff Leve Is this going to be a Cabernet Sauvignon vintage?

Jean Christophe Mau “Visually, the Cabernet Sauvignon was looking better than Merlot during the picking. But as the malolactic fermentation is not finished, it is difficult to say what will taste better.”

Jeff Leve Did you need to chaptalize this year?

Jean Christophe Mau “With 2013 Bordeaux, only liars would say that they did not need to chaptalize this year!”

Jeff Leve With this difficult year, what will you do during the vinification and elevage?

Jean Christophe Mau “We will avoid using too much new oak as tannins will not have enough structure to stand it. We will probably have a shorter ageing time to preserve the fruit. We will not exclude to de-acidify at the end of the ageing if necessary. But it is too early to say for sure.”

Jeff Leve What are your alcohol and pH levels with the 2013 Bordeaux vintage?

Jean Christophe Mau “With the Merlot, we are at 12% naturally with a pH of 3.45. The Cabernet Sauvignon reached 12.5% alcohol with a pH of 3.6.”

Jeff Leve Can you compare your 2013 Bordeaux with any previous vintage?

Jean Christophe Mau “The yields have never been lower. In fact yields this year are even smaller than we experienced with the 2003 vintage! Regarding quality it is between 2002, 2007 and 2011.”


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