Merlot Bud burst – Hourcat Centre

As most of our regular readers will have realised by now, there’s no more passionate to place to be to write about one’s vineyard that when you are practically sitting in it, you have looked at every plant and tasted more wines in 10 days than many sommeliers do in a month. And as our short stay here sadly comes to an end and we say goodbye to our friends, neighbours and amazing team, it seemed very appropriate to bring you the news directly from our lovely vineyards in Cardan, Bordeaux.

So what’s new? The good news is that is appears that all our vines survived the big freeze in February when the temperatures fell as low as -14C for an extended period of time. This was one of the coldest prolonged winter spells in Bordeaux since the devastating combination of heavy snow and deep frost in 1956 that effectively wiped out many vineyards completely. There was lot of discussion and comparison between 2012 and 1956. We survived this time largely due to a combination of less snow, a shorter period of extreme cold, less severe temperatures and ongoing dry soil conditions.

Almost 5 weeks after the cold spell came a week of abnormally high temperatures reaching 25C which “jump started” the vines back into life and triggered budburst well ahead of the usual time. Our arrival effectively finished the warm spell (thanks!) and cool showery weather began. Although not great from a visitor’s perspective, this has nicely slowed down the pace of growth and with overcast skies at night, the risk of further frost killing the new buds and fruit has diminished as the season moves further towards summer. However the ground remains very dry. 35mm of rain during the last ten days will have helped but a lot more spring rain would be nice in order to avoid the near disastrous “heat and drought” event that we saw last June.

Albane and Pascale check the organic progress

All the vines in Hourcat Sud (Cabernet Franc) have been very carefully and brilliantly pruned and tied down. And this week, we organised for the soil between each row to be harrowed and opened up to let some air back into the soil after years of compaction. Next week, Pascale will give the vines a quick “Nettle Concentrate” tonic to give them back some strength after the stress of the previous season. We are proud of the work and amazing transformation that Pascale has made on this special terrain. We can’t wait to see what vintage 2012 brings.

The loving work to recover the 55 year old Merlots in Hourcat Centre has also gone well. Although it was not possible to carry out a full “prune and tie down” on every living vine, we can see a lot of vigour in many of the vines and we are very keen to see what they will produce this year.

There is a lot of excitement (and interesting challenges) ahead in the coming months waiting for us as we return to Melbourne and there’s certainly no shortage of news for a good while yet. Can’t wait to be back in Cardan in September for harvest 2012!! Did you see the daily pictures from Cardan? Have a look and like our Facebook page to see the latest news and images from Cardan.