STRATEGIC CHOICES BEARING THEIR FRUIT
The 2016 vintage marks our 4th harvest at Penglai. While the three previous crops were experimental, this one constitutes a significant step forward for our estate: physiological balance, increased yield and the quality level all show a marked improvement.
The work undertaken is starting to bear fruit, confirming the technical choices (varieties/root stocks, training method, plant protection strategy, selection of equipment…).
This improvement is certainly satisfying for our teams, who themselves are better trained and carry out tasks with greater precision in the vineyard.
A VINTAGE MARKED BY BENEFICIAL RAIN AND A GOOD END-OF-SEASON
The 2016 vintage was marked by the high rainfall in the spring. This precipitation recorded at an early stage was very beneficial for the start up of the vines.
The rest of the season was more classic and went smoothly. August was slightly rainier than July but the showers were generally quite short in the region. In fact, even if the quantity of rain can be large, it usually falls in a very short space of time and is quickly followed by sunny intervals thanks to the wind that chases away the clouds and dries out the soil and the vegetation.
This year once again we benefited from a very fine end-of-season, though slightly cooler then we are accustomed to. Picking therefore followed a rhythm dictated by the ripeness of the grapes and not the climatic or sanitary conditions.
The result was a very satisfactory state of health, even better than in 2015. This is all the more encouraging since the yields are also markedly improved (50 hl/ha), sign of a good physiological balance (practically no green harvest was performed) and a better control of health risks (the plant protection strategy and preventive methods).
Penglai and Shandong again came out better than other Chinese regions and in particular the province of Ningxia (central-north China) which suffered somewhat unfavourable weather conditions (strong rains and hail storms at the end of the season).
The 18 ha in production was harvested between 23 September and 20 October with a total of 18 days of picking.
The picking calendar was as follows:
– 23 September: Merlot and Syrah
– 4 October: Marselan
– 5, 9 and 10 October: Cabernet Franc
– from 5 to 20 October: Cabernet Sauvignon (with several days of stoppage during this period).
We carried out fine zoning this year, so that within the parcels only the grapes showing the same levels of ripeness were picked together. We therefore carried out two passes through the entire vineyard. The different batches coming from this selective harvest could be kept separate in the cellar and were vinified apart.
The best levels of ripeness observed in the vineyard were confirmed in the cellar.
The yields obtained are satisfactory and show a very marked improvement. This is especially true for the Cabernet Sauvignon, which constitutes our major grape variety and therefore the largest volume. The last running off took place on 9 November. All or part of some batches was run off into barriques from the Tonnellerie des Domaines in Pauillac.
An overall tasting will take place at the beginning of 2017 to validate the quality of the batches and thus determine the blends.
THE VAT ROOM
The building construction is now almost complete and we were able to vinify in a cellar in its definitive configuration. The installations have really proved to be very functional and right up to our expectations.
To cope with increased production, we will add a new series of stainless-steel tanks starting in 2017. The information collected this year on the behaviour of the vines will allow us to choose tanks with a volume that corresponds to our parcels and the qualitative selections with which we wish to proceed.
The report was prepared by Olivier Richaud, Technical Director of Domain of Penglai and Olivier Trégoat, Technical Director of the DBR (Lafite) Properties outside Bordeaux.