The 2013 Vinification Ends

After nearly 3 months of tireless work in the cellar, the ferments have finished. All the barrels have been racked (taken off sediment) and put back to age gently over the next 6-12 months. Weather-wise, it’s like a switch was flicked here in Bordeaux. Ferments finished on Sunday, then snap: a typical -3˚C, frosty, bright and sunny Bordelaise winter’s day!

The marvellous 2013 La Voute is the only wine still being worked on daily and I am rolling the barrels, putting that lovely sediment back in suspension. My window barrel has been fascinating during the winemaking process. From the photo you can really see the sediment settling into layers and then the cloud-like movement of the sediment as it’s rolled.

LayersRotating the barrelCloudy lees

The 2013 Bordeaux harvest has been a testing one for the winemakers and many of us have suffered with the weather. However there are many small pockets here and there which escaped the heat, the humidity, the hail and the waterlogged soil. The team here at the Chai are best placed to spot these small parcels early and can adapt our winemaking from our world-wide vintage experience. And despite the challenging vintage we are very pleased with the results. Here are some notes on a selection of the 2013 wines so far. I’ll be interested to compare these in some months’ time to see how they have developed.

La Voute: lemon curd and hints of white honeysuckle flowers with a brooding tropical fruit character. Taking on lots of spice from the new French oak barrel just now, but has a luscious texture and a limey acidity. Very early to taste and very young.

Laithwaite Bordeaux Sauvignon: wow! Incredible aroma of limes and freshly cut grass due to the early harvest, palate has good acidity and the finish is slowly building with time in the stainless steel. Needs the cold weather.

Vent de Folie Blanc Vermentino: delicate, low alcohol percentage, this year and with full malolactic this is tasting really lovely and very Corsican in style! Delicate, lightly buttery with a classy finish.

Chardonnay: first time fruit from Beziers, a cooler year so a really mineral southern French character, gentle oak from the hogs heads. Will need another 6 months in barrel.

Garage White Chardonnay/Viognier blend: again the lower alcohol allowing early expressive aromas of violets and tropical fruits, palate is beautifully rounded from the partial malolactic fermentation. Just waiting for the trademark touch of spicy oak to appear.

Le C du Chai: A wet and humid year in Bordeaux? Yes indeed and perfect for the noble rot development on the Sémillon. It already has oodles of marmalade and orange peel, lovely acid as is common from Loupiac in such vintages, now waiting for the oak flavour to homogenise. Very young, this one is going to need at least a year ageing in barrel.

XV du President: the tiniest Grenache yield ever in Maury this year, we were talking berries not bunches. However quality is through the roof: inky black colour and fresh plum, black fig and cassis on both aroma and palate, going to taste good in bottle even early on. My advice for this vintage is drink immediately!

Secrets Des Etoiles Pinot Noir: no longer a secret but the hidden location of the vineyard in the hills above Montpellier still is and will remain that way as this was the star red grape in the Languedoc for me this year. It has everything, colour, depth, aroma, structure and length. It’s in barrel now and that’s where it’s going to stay for at least a year.

About Mark Hoddy

Mark Hoddy, Winemaker and Buyer for Alsace at Laithwaite's.