Hourtin Ducasse uses organic and biodynamic viticultural methods and have tried “many treatments, concocted from essential oils and herbal infusions, and many passages to work the soil”. However this year the vineyards were attacked by downy and powdery mildew which have heavily damaged the grapes.
Chateau Hourtin Ducasse is a Cru Bourgeois estate and the vineyards cover about 62 acres. Owner Michael Marengo said he had been fearing such a decision as far back as August. Due to the difficult growing season he said that “our minimum quality requirements have not been met.”
The Marengo family have been using organic and biodynamic methods for 10 years to treat their vineyards, sustain the soil and to allow the vines to gradually strengthen and to express themselves. The family has a strong commitment to respect their environment and the difficulties they have faced this year have not shaken their beliefs.
On the chateau’s website – under a ‘no bottles’ graphic – they explain their decision not to produce a vintage this year and remind people that Chateau d’Yquem also refrains from producing a vintage if they are concerned about the quality of their harvest in Sauternes, as well as Angelo Gaja, one of the oldest producers of Brunello di Montalcino.
All is not lost though, as Hourtin Ducasse have managed to harvest enough good quality Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes to make a 2012 Rosé wine, Les Roses de Marie. Marengo said that they will be hiring extra advisors to help them to prepare for next year’s harvest, including Marx Quertinier from the Pauillac Oenology Laboratory.
“Although many of the larger estates in Bordeaux are reporting cautiously optimistic results in the cellars, with good alcohol levels and ripe tannins, it has been a challenging growing season, and several estates in Sauternes are withholding a decision on releasing a 2012 vintage until vat tasting over the next few weeks.”