Albane checks the density during the final “open’ pump over.

Leaving Bordeaux has never been easy in any of the 20 years that I have been coming here. It’s hard to believe that we have so many wonderful friends and a brilliant team of people who make the French operation of Paradise Rescued so great. As I walk down the jet way, another sharp icy shower lashes the windows. It jolts me from my temporary sadness as I realise our good fortune thus far in Vintage 2012. I feel for those Chateaux who have hung on as late as possible to get the maximum ripeness from the tough season and may now not get much at all.

From all the conversations and our own small experience, 2012 is a vintage of significant contrast where the skill of the vigneron in the vineyard has determined the results. The fruit was heterogeneous requiring continual review and triage (removal) of unripe low sugar grapes and further separation with the harvest. The combined results of nature and the manual intervention is a low yield harvest. But at the same time, we believe – and the Bordeaux “grapevine” agrees, that the quality looks potentially good.

Pumping over CabFranc juice onto skins in C-1

Our experience reflect this. Although we are long way from bottling the finished wine, we can confirm that the yield is low – more than 50% down on the superb 2010 harvest – but we believe from everything we see in the winery that there may be a good chance of making (very) good wine. The colours and “in vat” taste tests of both the CabFranc and first ever tiny tiny quantity of Merlot from Hourcat Centre look gorgeous. The Merlot in C-4 reached a specific density of 1.000 at 12noon today so fermentation is effectively over. The smaller vat of CabFranc in C-3 will be at the same level late tomorrow and the large vat C-1, destined to become Cloud9 2012, is a further 24 hours behind that. We will probably rack off the young wine and press the skins later this week to avoid making potentially strong tannic wines.

The cold rain is still falling as we accelerate down the runway to Paris, Dubai and Melbourne. Although my smile is a little sad, it’s still a big smile. Project Paradise Rescued rolls forward…..

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