Monday, 26 September 2011

2011 Harvest Report: Cédric Valade of Château La Grande Maye and Château Valade.

Posted by Tom Jenkins, Bordeaux Buyer
The growing season:

‘2011 will remain in the memories of winemakers as a tricky vintage. The season started very early with a warm and dry April that sped up the vegetative cycle of the vines. Disbudding tasks overlapped with the 2010 primeurs tastings. We have never seen such a quick start before! It was the beginning of a race that went on until the end of the trellising of the vines!

In the meantime, the flowering took place successfully under a warm and sunny weather. We did not get much rain from January to June; 150 mm instead of 350 to 450 mm norm. Our water retentive soils were a real benefit during this time.

In June, we took the decision to only deleaf the side of the vines exposed to the rising sun. This was vindicated when temperatures rose to 40°C+ later in the summer. Such extreme heat would have scorched grapes without the protection of a healthy canopy.

From July to September, the weather became more typical with lower temperatures and regular rains that enabled a good ripening of the grapes’.

The vendage:

‘The harvest started on Monday the 19th of September and all the Château La Grande Maye Merlots were picked within the week. On Saturday, we harvested by hand the Merlot and Cabernet Franc at Château Valade in St Emilion.

The short pruning, the thinning and the green harvest enabled us to get yields of approximately 40 to 45 hl/ha. The skins are thin, the seeds are well-ripened, the berries taste great and the whole vineyard is very healthy.

The Cabernets from Château La Grande Maye can still ripen more so we plan to harvest them at the end of this week.

The winemaking is going on, with the main part of the tanks still undergoing maceration at cold temperatures before fermenting. The colour seems to extract well. The tasting of the juices shows a promising aromatic potential. At the moment, we are confident about the quality of the 2011 vintage; however, we will know more about it in a few weeks.

September 2011 is also marked by a new purchase for Château Valade. We have acquired 0.40 ha of vines and a building soon to become a new cellar, as well as a house (where my girlfriend, Héloïse, and I will live). This is ideally situated close to our vines on the calcareous plateau of St Christophe des Bardes, near Château Troplong Mondot.

We hope that we will see many more vintages in our new cellar and home, and share them with you!’