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Domain of Penglaï, 2015 Harvest Report

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A vintage that confirms the choice of terroirs and plantings

2015 is the third harvest for Domaine of Penglaï. Each year we learn a little more about the vineyard’s local environment and its characteristics. This year has confirmed our choice of plantings, in particular for the Cabernet Sauvignon which is already showing great quality, and also the choice of its sloping terroirs, with good exposition and filtering capacity.

The team in place, directed by site manager Olivier Richaud, is also progressively refining harvest techniques and logistics, made complex by the layout of the vineyard in terraces which requires much manual work.

The 2015 vintage was marked by mostly mild weather. Summer rains came with a lag of one month compared with the usual average, though without consequences for the vines. The Shandong region, of which Penglaï is part, can feel pleased that it had a better harvest than the Ningxia region (northern central China) where the climatic conditions were more complex to manage.

A superb end to the season allowed the teams to work at the desired pace, as much for the picking as for the reception of the grapes.

The temperatures recorded up to 25 October (date of preparing this harvest report) were very mild; they have fallen by around ten degrees since then.

 

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A plentiful harvest and the inauguration of a new vat room

 

Picking is by hand, carried out by our local teams with the help of seasonal workers from neighbouring villages.
18 hectares were harvested over a total of 8 days (including 6 hectares of young vines). The harvest was spread out as follows:

  • 24 September: Merlot and Syrah
  • 9 October: Marselan
  • 11 October: Cabernet Franc
  • from 16 to 21 October: Cabernet Sauvignon

The state of health of the harvest was very satisfactory, with good ripening of the grapes and good quality. Yields are significantly higher than in 2014, a sign of good control of production conditions.

The fermentations took place under good conditions in the new vat room, inaugurated for the occasion.

 

Wines that reveal the potential of the Cabernet Sauvignon

The better understanding of the production context (soil, climate and the phytosanitary environment) has resulted in a significant improvement in the overall quality of the wines this year. The promising signs shown last year for the Marselan and the Cabernet Sauvignon have been confirmed. The wines made from these grape varieties have the most depth and the most complexity. The structure of the tannins also gives a definite sense of their potential. This is especially the case for the 2013 plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, for which the very good balance of the vegetation observed during the growing season expressed itself fully during the vinification.

The other grape varieties show quite full expression of their suppler and fruitier characteristics. This aspect should be very complementary in the context of the future blending trials, which will take place at the beginning of January.

The best batches will be aged in barrels from the Tonnellerie des Domaines, currently on their way to China.

The malolactic fermentations were completed a little after the middle of November.

It is with renewed satisfaction that we welcome this third Chinese vintage, which confirms our expectations and lets us predict a great future . . .

The harvest report was prepared by Olivier Richaud, Technical Director of the Penglaï site, and Eric Kohler, Technical Director of international estates for the group DBR (Lafite).