It may just be me but it seems that the Bordeaux wine media has been remarkably quiet on the prospective Bordeaux Vintage 2016 vintage. Maybe this is just a calmer reaction following a generally successful and much publicised 2015 vintage, which followed several less good overall vintages. Or perhaps after such a good hot summer, a high quality harvest looked to be guaranteed and that Bordeaux was once again back in the groove of delivering good vintage red wine. So is it just a case of no bad news, therefore no media?
So here is our early view of Bordeaux Vintage 2016.
The late legendary CEO of Château Margaux, Paul Pontallier, made the comment that, at his (highly revered) property, there were no bad vintages – but the climate in some years provided exceptional vintages. Whilst not wishing to exactly compare Paradise Rescued to this Premier Grand Cru property, Pontaillier was exactly right. With good sound detailed viticultural practice and hands on care in the vineyard, the production of high quality wine is not down to the weather alone. Our 2012 and 2014 B1ockOne Cabernet Franc wines are certainly testimony to that. But of course, it helps!
An excellent summer in 2016 makes it easy to forget the preceding eternally wet spring, which required huge viticultural skill and constant painstaking monitoring to avoid the impact of mildew. The basics had to be right to ensure that the vineyard would even make it successfully through into summer. Against all odds with continued wet humid rainy conditions, the vines flowered and the coulure (failure of the berries to set) was minimal. The grimace on most vigneron’s faces started to convert into smiles as the skies cleared for a hot dry summer. Rain in mid September helped re-swell the grapes and prepare for an Indian summer harvest period.
Our Merlot and Cabernet Franc vineyards were hand cut and harvested on the first two Saturdays of October respectively with overall a very high level of both quality and quantity. Minor hand cutting selection or ‘triage’ was required in certain sections of the vineyards but with nothing further needed at the winery door prior to de-stemming, crushing and vinification. During fermentation the winery was completely (and happily) full.
I was the Paradise Rescued ‘pumpman’ for much of the second week of fermentation of the Cabernet Franc in our two-person daily winery operations team. The pumpman is the person that stays at ground level opening / closing valves and operating the pump whilst the “Chef du Chai” Pascale stays up top over the vats directing the aerated juice from the flexible pipes around and over the cap of grapes. The micro-vats were so full that I was inevitably treated to a first hand “spray tasting” from above on occasions. It would not have been possible to ferment one more box of fruit in our winery. In fact there was so much fruit that we had to call into action our spare vat-on-wheels C-9 to help relieve the logistical headache. There was not one square meter remaining available in the winery.
A wine vintage is only as good as the taste it delivers to the customer when they open and drink a bottle. Preliminary assessments are always a risky business as so much can happen with a wine. We should never forget that it is a living product. With young wines, one doesn’t look so much for strengths as for potential technical weaknesses. It will be another thirteen months before Paradise Rescued 2016 wines go into bottle so there is a lot of time for change. With all the daily tastings of the fermenting juice and press wine, my overall current assessment is very positive. At this stage, I like the Merlot a lot; I love the Cabernet Franc even more. Sugar and alcohol levels are generally higher than 2015 with better acidity, less fragility allowing deeper maceration in vat and enhancing the potential for ageing / keeping. I think Paradise Rescued vintage 2016 has an excellent potential ahead.
That’s our early Bordeaux Vintage 2016 view. I am pleased that our Paradise Rescued tradition of hand crafted organic wine excellence and finesse continues. Drop back again soon for our perspective as the vintage progresses…
The Paradise Rescued 2010 vintage varietal Bordeaux Cabernet Franc is now on sale in the USA and Australia. Please click on the highlighted links. Paradise Rescued is the 2016 Stevie International Business Award winner for Small Marketing Campaign.