2013 Margaux Paul Pontallier on the Harvest Vintage Wine Making


2013 margaux harvest image

Jeff Leve Is 2013 Chateau Margaux going to be a Cabernet Sauvignon vintage?

Paul Pontallier “Clearly, as far as we are concerned: the Merlot grapes are quite disappointing, whereas the Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are quite well done.”

Jeff Leve What will the style of the style of the 2013 Margaux be like?

Paul Pontallier “It is a bit too early to say as the malolactic fermentation is still in progress. The 2013 Margaux are moderately powerful wines, very well balanced, and display riper characteristics than what we had thought.”

Jeff Leve Is the 2013 Bordeaux harvest, one of the later vintages for you?

Paul Pontallier “No; since the beginning of this century, we’ve started at least as late in 2008, 2004, 2002 and 2001.”

Jeff Leve Did you experience difficulties during flowering as many estates in the Medoc did?

Paul Pontallier “The weather conditions were difficult during the flowering. It had, as usual, little impact on the Cabernets. It had a much bigger impact on the Merlot and Petit Verdot.”

Jeff Leve With that in mind, what are your yields for the 2013 Margaux?

Paul Pontallier “The Merlot with be 17 hectoliters per hectare and the Cabernet Sauvignon was better for us as it’s at 22 hectoliters per hectare.”

Jeff Leve Overall, how does that compare with other years at Chateau Margaux?

Paul Pontallier “2013 Margaux is gong to be one of our lowest yields in the past 30 years!”

Jeff Leve Do you know what percentage of the crop will you place in the Grand Vin?

Paul Pontallier “We don’t know yet of course. But I don’t think that it will be that low as our great plots produced very good wines.”

Is 2013 Margaux one of the wettest vintages for you at the estate?

Paul Pontallier “No. Indeed, the summer of 2013 was one of the driest in the 10 past years and it didn’t rain that much during the harvest. It rained much more in the spring and only a little in September, but with relatively high temperatures which explains the speedy development of the botrytis before the harvest.”

Jeff Leve Due to problems during the growing season, did you need to spend more time sorting this year?

Paul Pontallier “We had to do very strict sorting in the plots that were affected by the botrytis. Our team of pickers is perfectly trained to this kind of task.”

Jeff Leve With a vintage like 2013, did organic or biodynamic farming techniques help?

Paul Pontallier “When the weather conditions begin to be very favorable for the development of botrytis, there is not much difference between the different farming techniques.”

Jeff Leve You’ve used optical sorting before in the past. Did you use optical sorting this year?

Paul Pontallier “Not this year.”

Jeff Leve Why not with the 2013 Margaux?

Paul Pontallier “Because when grapes are affected by botrytis, optical sorting is useless as the sorting needs to be done on the vine.”

Jeff Leve When did you being picking?

Paul Pontallier “We started the harvest October 2 and finished picking October 11.”

Jeff Leve Did you harvest earlier than anticipated, due to the potential onset of botrytis?

Paul Pontallier “Yes. We began harvesting 4 or 5 days ahead of what we had thought.”

Jeff Leve Were you also forced to pick at a faster pace than usual?

Paul Pontallier “Probably, indeed we did.”

Jeff Leve Was 2013 a vintage that you needed to chaptalize?

Paul Pontallier “Slightly, in some vats.”

Jeff Leve What are your alcohol and pH levels in the 2013 Margaux?

Paul Pontallier “The alcohol level will be close to 13% in the final blend. As for the pH, it is too early to know as the Malolactic fermentation is not finished yet.”


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