Margaux, the Bordeaux appellation, is tipped to be the focal point of this year’s vintage 2015 en-primeur. Whilst Chateaux Margaux is inundated with tributes for their revered late managing director, Mr Paul Pontallier – whose passing was more the poignant as it was the eve of the start of this en-primeur season – the Margaux appellation at large was blessed with the most favourable weather conditions throughout vintage 2015, now poised to unveil some of the greatest among this highly anticipated vintage in the coming days.
Conventional wisdom has it that in a great vintage, it is well worth buying from a wider array of estates, and second labels of esteemed properties, especially from stellar appellations because the overall quality would be uniformly high, therefore offering fantastic opportunities to own a great vintage.
Thomas Duroux, Director General & CEO, Château Palmer
Could you summarize for us why vintage 2015 is looking great for Bordeaux in general and Margaux in particular?
We have been very fortunate with the weather in 2015. Especially during the summer, we had mostly warm and dry conditions through to July and then just a little rain towards August so the temperature stress on the fruits did not become too great, so we had a very good veraizon period – the changing of colour of the grapes – that was very homogenous. So by the end of August we were quite confident that the potential of the vintage was very good.
During September, the amount of rainfall was quite varied from one appellation to another. In the Margaux area, we had just a little rain, so it was perfect to finish the ripening process. We were able to start harvesting by the end of September. The fruits were very ripe, all the tannins were ripe – not just the tannis from the skins, but also the pips, which is quite important. The alcohol potential is higher, which is very classical for a top vintage, but the acidity level was not that high. So to balance the lower acidity with the higher alcohol, the only good option was to build tannins structure, but because all the tannins were ripe, including from the pips, there was no risk of over extraction of the rougher or unpleasant tannin characters.
Comparison with some other great vintages?
From what I can see so far, 2015 Palmer could have the delicacy of the tannins structure of our 2009, which was very soft; and the aromatic intensity of our 2005.
Any interesting developments at Chateau Palmer recently?
For one, in the vineyard we adopted a biodynamic approach. 2015 is now our second vintage where our vineyard is 100% biodynamic. Another thing is that we are lowering our sulphite level in the wine. We found a way to avoid any sulphites in the fruits before fermentation, which means by the end of the aging process in barrels our sulphite level should be lower than what we had in the past, which is good for the wine’s expression.
Edouard Miailhe, Proprietor, Château Siran
Anything particularly note-worthy for Siran in the past year or so?
2015, as it started with the 2014 at Siran, are the first vintages that really benefited from our 7 years of investment in the vineyard. These investments started in 2007 and consisted of the following:
- Up-rooting and replanting of close to 30% of the plots
- 35,000 vines of co-plantation made on all the remaining plots
- Correction of the canopy of most of the plots in order to increase the leaves volume
- Re-organization of the pruning method
Also since 2014 Hubert de Boüard is the consultant at Siran.
What are you looking forward to the most about the up and coming en primeur campaign?
I’m hoping for our distributors and consumers who turned their back to Bordeaux after the 2010 and 2011 vintages to come back and have a look at what we are doing. I think also that the American market should come back and have a greater look to what we are producing here in terms of taste and in term of price.
Getting great chateaux at around 20 to 40 USD ex-Bordeaux will make them good value when landed in the US. And this with the finesse and the elegance of our wines, especially with this vintage.
If I need to make space in my cellar for 2015, which vintage should I drink now?
I guess some 2005 should start to be nice to drink. 10 years is a minimum for a great Bordeaux. But I would say that our 1998, 1999 and 2001 are at their peak now so they should be the ones to go first if you still have some in your cellar.
How has vintage 2015 played out so far for you?
We are very happy with the new birth of this vintage. Overall it was wonderful, a quick homogeneous flowering and a very dry year with just enough rainfall to ensure a perfect ripening of the fruit. A key factor of the overall success of Margaux, without any doubt, was that we only had a little bit of rain between June and the harvest, in comparison to the average of the region.
We’ve worked very hard on the blend, and we are finding lots of ripeness, sensitivity and energy in the wine. For both Giscours and du Tertre we will have wonderful personalities that will seduce everyone, from people who love sexiness to people who like balance and precision.
What are you looking forward to the most about the en primeur campaign?
To please the real wine consumers for whom we make our wines!
We will be hosting the Margaux appellation tastings for the UGC [Unions des Grands Crus de Bordeaux] at Château du Tertre!
If I need to make space for 2015, which vintage should I drink now that might resemble what 2015 could become?
That’s a good question. I feel that we have a vintage that has some similarities with the 2005 vintage.