2013 Chateau Haut Bergey Pessac Leognan (Pre-Arrival)

2013 Chateau Haut Bergey Pessac Leognan (Pre-Arrival)

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Bordeaux 2013

2013 Bordeaux — One More in a Series of Challenging Years

The 2013 vintage in Bordeaux was one of the most challenging in recent memory. The season got off to a slow start, as February, March, and April were all cold months. Morning frosts continued into early April, delaying bud-break — temperatures were well below average. May began with promise but quickly deteriorated into cold, wet weather, which further delayed the growth of the vines. June followed the same pattern; rain was quite heavy at times and flowering was pushed back. Nature changed her tune in July, which was one of the sunniest on record. During the month, there were 21 days of temperatures of 86℉ or higher, however huge storms on the 26th caused hail damage to the vines in Libourne and also damaged some of the stately willow trees at Lafite. No hail was reported in the Médoc.

On August 2nd, an even more violent storm carved a path through Entre-Deux-Mers and Côtes de Castillon. In the worst-hit vineyards somes vines were stripped bare. Overall, the growth cycle continued to lag behind—in many vineyards, veraison was not complete until early September. At that point, the grapes needed a miracle autumn to recover, but it was not to be. Hopes were dashed when a promising early September was followed by a period of cool drizzle.

Later in the month, temperatures finally warmed up and the sun returned. The white wine harvest began under favorable conditions. Dry whites and the sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac are indeed promising. With good acidities, solid fruit, and ample botrytis for the sweet wines, they are the bright spots in an otherwise gloomy year.

The reds are another story. Harvest conditions were far from ideal, as rain returned at the very end of September, and during the beginning and middle of October. The precipitation, interspersed with periods of warmth and humidity, brought the threat of rot, and growers were forced to bring in the fruit, ready or not.

The keys to this vintage have turned out to be the work in the vineyards — selecting the best bunches and dropping fruit to ridiculously low yields in some cases — and careful extraction and vinification in the cellar.

Because producers have become so much better in the cellars and vineyards, we will end up with some approachable, good quality wines, but if you’re looking for a great vintage, best to head elsewhere.

Key Dates

March
Cold conditions, winter rainfall higher than 30-year average

April
Cold and wet start to the season, morning frosts a problem. Late bud-break

May
May began well, but weather turned cold and wet and the vines fell further behind. Cumulative temperatures well below average.

June
Good weather for the first week, followed by rain during flowering with cold wet weather causing coulure and millerandage, lowering expectations once again. The 6th, 17th and 20th see significant rain

July
Huge storms, hail in damage in the Libourne. Willows at Lafite damaged, but no hail in the Medoc

August
Damaging hail in Entre-Deux-Mers and Cotes du Castillon. Some report 80% crop damage

August
Veraison has barely begun, mid-veraison occurs 15 days later than the average

August
Crop thinning required for unevenly ripe bunches, further reducing an already small crop

August
White wine harvest begins

September
White wine harvest in Pessac Leognan runs from September 10th through 25th, much later than 2012 and 2011. Picking was rushed to avoid grey rot that had settled in during the cool, damp conditions

September
Merlot harvest begins. Grey rot begins to affect the vineyards and risk aversion becomes the main determinant of picking dates rather than ripeness

September
Rain falls

October
Rain falls over the the weekend

October
Cabernet and Petit Verdot harvest begins

October
Precipitation, interspersed with periods of warmth and humidity, brought the threat of rot, and growers were forced to bring in the fruit, ready or not

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