The 2008 harvest in Bordeaux will be another test of craftsmanship for the vintners with the late summer ripening the grapes right up to the last minute.
Jean-Luc Thunevin (owner of Chateau Valandraud) told decanter that “If the weather continues like this for the next three weeks, we will be calling 2008 the miracle vintage”. Well, it’s 22ºC in Bordeaux at the moment and the latter half of the week is set for unbroken sunshine so he might be right.
Jean-Francois tells me that the grapes for the La Fleur Morange Mathilde 2008 have been gathered in successfully and that he was pleasantly surprised to find an alcoholic strength of 13° and a great concentration in the grapes. This is down to good husbandry as Jean-François has the reputation of being a perfectionist.
Mathilde is the second wine of Château La Fleur Morange, named after Jean-Francois and Véronique Julien’s daughter, and is produced from the same 100 year old vines and terroir as the Grand Vin – Château La Fleur Morange.
Jean-Francois runs a boutique wine in Saint-Pey-D’Armens that is receiving high acclaim from wine critics across the globe. The vineyard is a 4 acre plot of unique soil with 100 year old vines.
The soil is sand and clay layers over limestone and clinker sub soil – the only complex mixture known to exist in Saint Emilion – which Jean-François says contributes to the finesse of the tannins.
He was a skilful cabinet maker by trade until he married Véronique, whose parents were wine makers. Jean-François became interested in wine making himself and painstakingly investigated the terroir around him, analysing those that he thought had great potential.
There is an old carpenter’s saying: “Measure twice and cut once” and this applies to Jean-François. His absolute attention to detail – no matter how small – has enabled him to make great wine.
Jean-François sent me this video clip of the Mathilde harvest and you can see the grapes being sorted so that only the best are chosen to make his wine.
The Juliens have been working with Claude Gros as consultant oenologist since 2002. Claude is one of the famous flying vintners who has clients from Bordeaux to Ribera del Duero in Spain.
Except that according to him they are not clients but “people that I work with”. Jancis Robinson discovered Jean-Francois’ wines recently at a blind tasting in a line-up of 2005 red Bordeaux for Decanter magazine:
“the owner of fine wine traders Farr Vintners and I took it for Château Ausone and Pavie respectively.”
On interviewing Claude he told her admiringly of how the Juliens of Fleur Morange in Bordeaux love their vines so much they virtually have a name for each one. This is typical of Jean-Francois, who is meticulous in scrutinising his grapes.
The reason behind the quality in the Merlot grapes this year he puts down to the dry year and the north wind that they have been exposed to. It’s interesting to note that once he started harvesting his grapes his neighbours quickly followed suit but in his opinion they were too late as their vines lie on sandier soil.
Mathilde is made from 100% Merlot and is opulent, well structured and rich. The wine has notes of cherries, blueberries, chocolate, plum and earth. Mathilde is an easy drinking wine and is approachable when young.
It is well balanced and concentrated. It’s been well received, as has its big sister, and the 05 and 07 received scores of 93 and 87 – 89 respectively from Robert Parker. Jancis has yet to write up her tasting notes having only just sampled the wines. I will keep you posted on that score.
If you are interested in trying some of Jean-Francois wines you can find them at http://www.interestinwine.co.uk/ who are the sole UK stockists.