Denis DUBORDIEU, 2007 Faculty of Oenology
The characteristics that govern the quality of a vintage are almost always the same.
A successful red wine vintage depends on a chain of 5 essential conditions:
1) rapid and early flowering
2) Beginning of water stress at nousaison (berry set, after flowering)
3) End of shoot growth at approach of veraison (= allow the grape to concentrate on maturing, not using its energy in growing new shoots. In order to stop that, you need water stress, or a low water supply, to stop growth. In an oceanic climate like in Bordeaux, there is a certain suspense each year. But we can do two things to offset this suspense (and our own stress!) Ė plant on soils that have relatively low water reserves (the greatest terroirs have this), and ensure a large green foliage surface, lots of leaf canopy, which we obtain by planting lots of vines by hectare
4) Dryness and moderate heat during maturation of the grapes to favour production of sugar, colour, tannins and aromas.
5) Clement weather during harvest, without fear of dilution or rot, maximum ripening of late-ripening parcels and varieties. This allows the winemakers to wait until peak ripenss, particularly for cabernet and petit verdot. There is often a threat for these varieties that you have to leave them so late that there can be problems with grey rot. Need ideal conditions to avoid this.
In 2007, conditions 1 and 5 were perfectly met. 2-4 not so good!
To make excellent dry white, you need protection of aromas and acidity:
1) Mild water stress occurring later (after veraison). Need less water stress for white than red, and water stress should happen later.
2) Temperate daytime temperatures and cool nights during ripening. The worst thing for aromas of dry wite wines is torrid heat.
Both of these conditions were perfectly met in 2007.
For great sweet white wines:
Need alternating damp periods and warm dry weather to produce noble rot, and to concentrate the juice and the flavour in the grapes. These are in addition to the conditions for great white wines, because for great noble rot, need healthy white grapes to begin with.
Again, these conditions were met in 2007.
The white wines this year are very bright. Of course different expressions depending on the estates, but they are very intense flavoured wines.
Great Sauternes and Barsac. Without heaviness. Power but freshness.
The reds are more varied, but there are some very good ones due to the cabernets.
The faculty of oenology will not tell you every year that itís a great vintage. And itís in the proportions of cabernet sauvignon in the wines this year that will allow you to see the benefit of the late season sunshine.
But the most suprising grape variety this year was petit verdot. In early Sept, when we were already picking for whites, the pv had almost not changed colour, and werenít expecting to be able to use any of it. But the late season was perhaps even more beneficial for the pv as for the cab.
So what will make a difference between the estates is, first and foremost, the difference in vineyard management techniques. Of course terroir with lowest water reserves important, and the painstaking attention given to the summer pruning, leaf thinning and so on. And the best wines will have lower yields than in 06 or 05, or even 04.
It does not have the concentration that you find in the very greatest red Bordeaux vintages. But itís not a Ďsmall or offí vintage. Because there is complexity, freshness and definitely fruit.
Largely therefore you would expect it to be a Left Bank vintage, but there has also been great success in Pomerol Ė several reasons for this. Of course not all Pomerol is Petrus (ie not all made with 98% merlot)! Believe that the fact that a lot of Pomerol vineyards use a lot of cabernet franc is appreciable and has helped, as that grape did well this year (this - my own aside - is also seen with Chateau Angelus and Cheval Blanc in St Emilion, who both made gorgeous wines).
Plus the iron in Pomerol soils holds less water than many of the clay, alluvial soils that surround it.
And also very small properties, which means they can very carefully take care of their vineyards during the summer.
Most variable vintage since 1999, for both varieties and estates, and cabernet most like 2002 in terms of quality, where perhaps merlot didnít do so well. But so many great differences b/w estates it is hard to say. O
ne sign of a good vintage is the even quality a fairly stable quality. This is seen in Sauternes and Barsac, but this is not true in many other appellations.
Believe there is a potential for ageing in the 2007. Again with the 2002 can compare, they are ageing gracefully, particularly left bank, and are developing a real Ďbdx characterí, whereas perhaps the 2003 are not ageing in a normal bdx character.