Jean-Francois Julien of Chateau La Fleur Morange has kindly sent me a detailed report and photographs for the 2012 Bordeaux harvest at the chateau this year. La Fleur Morange was recently promoted to Grand Cru Classé in the new Saint Emilion Classification – a remarkable achievement for a small château that has only been producing wine for a decade and a half. La Fleur Morange lies in St-Pey d’Armens in Saint Emilion and Jean-Francois has given us an insider’s view of the potential of the 2012 vintage:
“As I often say, Mother Nature makes you humble. This has certainly been true this year.
Spring was cool. The first buds arrived and then a spring frost changed the whole course of the vintage: one in two buds froze. The remaining buds grew normally, while those that had frozen opened up a little later.
Still in spring, the flowering period was uneven and to make things worse, it rained.
The best solution I could find was to remove the late-growing grapes. This gave us a homogenous level of ripeness.
Unlike in 2011, we conducted leaf-stripping on both sides of the vine at the end of July, even in the knowledge that we were one month late. But in August the days are shorter and the sun not so high in the sky as in June and July. August was sunny. The seasonal temperatures contributed positively to the ripeness of the skins, which were still a month behind. The colour-change came late and lasted for a long time.
In late September the grapes were still not ripe enough to pick. A day of fairly heavy rain accelerated this much-awaited ripening.
At the start of October the rain clouds arrived, and we certainly needed them to get the grapes to full ripeness.
The analysis of the grape samples was positive. Good pH, good acidity, good alcohol content.
On 13th October I decided to pick the grapes around the winery building.
I am confident in the quality of our harvest, which is perfectly ripe and offers good colour and a good ph/acidity balance. The alcohol degrees are lower than in 2011; in the Fleur Morange vines I found 14° and in the Mathilde vines 13.5°. [Mathilde is their Second Wine]
I think we can expect a very high-quality vintage, rather in the style of 2003 but without the caramelised fruit aromas.
Now we have to wait and see what happens during the fermentations, see what levels of acidity, alcohol degree and colour remain.”
I can’t wait to taste the end result!