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Day 2 – The Médoc

Today we’ve (almost) completed our sweep through the Médoc 2007s. It’s been an up and down sort of day, and we feel we ‘understand’ the vintage much better than this time yesterday, so here are our observations.

Firstly, some very rough generalisations. Overall, the 2007 vintage on the Médoc is lighter and generally slightly less impressive than 2006, but despite what would historically have been extremely difficult conditions the wines are mainly clean, and will make pleasant drinking. Very roughly, the three key secrets to success in 2007 were:

  1. Have good terroir. No suprise, and no consolation to those properties not as blessed as others, but the “usual suspects” stood out more than normal this year and clearly natural advantages are the most important in overcoming difficult climactic conditions.
  2. Have a low yield. I blogged about this yesterday, but yet again today the wines with lower yields were generally better. This may be related to point 1, because the best terroir often involves having difficult soil and so naturally low yields, but there we go.
  3. Don’t pick too early. There are exceptions – some of the early picked properties have made lovely delicate wines – but broadly speaking, the very best wines were picked late.

Different combinations of these have produced some stars of the vintage.

Possibly our favourite wine of the vintage is Léoville-Las-Cases; it is pure, elegant and delicious, and combines all three of the points above. The work this property has done to push its quality levels up to match the first growths has paid off. Intruigingly, we have yet to taste next-door neighbour Latour, so this may change.

Another success was Ducru-Beaucaillou, where proprietor Bruno Borie explained how he had doubled labour costs in the vineyard in 2007 to cope with conditions. As well as leaf-thinning, green harvesting and canopy managegemt, he introduced us to a new concept of “pink harvesting”: trimming away portions of bunches that had developed their colour less completely than others to concentrate the vine’s development on the most advanced grapes. Several other properties employed this tactic, but none had coined such a succinct phrase.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the minimum intervention (but superb terroir) of Léoville and Langoa-Barton again delivered the goods in 2007. The third Léoville, Poyferré also impressed in yet another vintage in which St-Julien has proved our favourite commune.

3 thoughts on “Day 2 – The Médoc

  1. Richard

    Does the requirement for exceptional terroir and the financial clout to ‘double labour costs in the vineyard’ mean that there will be very few of the value stars this year, or could a little luck and the foresight to gamble on late harvesting still save some of the smaller players in the 5th and 4th growth categories?

    Giles

  2. Giles – there are definitely some nice, attractive wines outside the top cru classés, but they will be soft and fruity early drinkers rather than for long term cellaring. There just wasn’t enough in the grapes to produce powerful ageworthy wines on the lesser estates.

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