2011 was a very early vintage. According to the average for the last 60 years, we recorded, in Pauillac:
– 9 days advance for the bud-break
– 15 days advance for the flowering
– 18 days advance for the véraison
The technical team had to deal with a complex situation in the vineyard. Indeed, rainfall was relatively low in January, February and March but historically low in April. The morning dew combined with low humidity and high temperatures favoured the growth of powdery mildew, which is usually quite rare in the Bordeaux region. Downy mildew, that is often a problem, remained very inactive.
Everything was upside down! And it was necessary to remain extremely vigilant because this fungus has an extraordinary capacity to surprise even the best vine growers. August and the beginning of September were unusually damp, with notable differences between Pomerol, Sauternes and Pauillac.
Then on 1st September, the date the harvests started in Rieussec in bright sunshine, a telephone call from Lafite brought news of disaster: a big hail storm had struck on the northern edge of Pauillac and in Saint Estèphe. A quick decision was made, we would “bring in” the Cabernet Sauvignon in Caillava on 3rd September (which had been scheduled for harvest on 5th September).
From that moment on, with a non-negligible risk of lurking botrytis, we harvested the fruit that Mother Nature had been happy to help us bring to an excellent degree of ripeness at the various sites, in a rather surprising order, but without playing any dangerous waiting games!
Only the vineyard in Rieussec, after a very dense period towards the end of September, benefited from the Indian summer with some of the golden, nobly botrytized grapes remaining on the vines until 2nd November. And this is how a difficult viticulture year came to an end.
Paradoxically, the first wines that we have tasted have been very promising… with beautiful expressions of fruit, supported by fine levels of acidity, and a lower alcohol content than in the previous vintages.