« We worked really hard, going to bed each night exhausted, and then the grapes came in and we saw just how rich and resplendent a vintage this was."
That, in a nutshell, is how Baptiste Guinaudeau of Château Lafleur describes the nascence of this "enfant terrible" ...the 2018 vintage. The winter began with steady rain that persisted right up to the beginning of summer, with the equivalent of a year's annual rainfall (800mm) falling between December 2017 and May 2018 in the vineyards of Bordeaux. These unabated episodes of rain also resulted in less sun and luminosity than normal for the period. 2018 experienced the greyest January since 1991, but also the warmest for 100 years. With the exception of February, which was particularly cold, the winter temperatures were mild. Budbreak took place at the beginning of April, slightly slower than usual.
May saw constant but geographically irregular rain in the Gironde, and two hailstorms on the 20 and 26 May ravaged the vineyards of Bourg, part of the Medoc and the Entre-deux-Mers. In all, some 1000 hectares lost 80% of their crop.
Conditions in June did not improve, but flowering was rapid, with the vines recovering from an early tardiness to flower to the best of their ability.
The incessant rain and the mild weather in May and June encouraged the development of mildew. This fungus that propagates in damp conditions around 17°c was unprecedentedly virulent this year. The relentless rain left the vignerons no respite; the sodden earth made tractor access impossible at a moment when the vines needed treating against the fungus. Certain properties suffered significant damage from mildew, with rampant attacks up to mid-July sometimes getting the upper hand after weeks of bitter struggle. Such was the case at Château Pontet-Canet, certified biodynamic since 2010, where Justine Tesseron, co-owner, nevertheless proclaims "we shall not abandon our beliefs", in spite of the harsh blow they have been dealt.
From the middle of July and France's victory in the football World Cup there was a radical turnaround. The weather became particularly hot, followed by an extremely dry August and September which reduced the risk of mildew. The teams working under Nicolas Audebert of Châteaux Canon, Rauzan-Segla and Berliquet wrote: "It is that long moment when the sun is sovereign, exuding a golden warmth that first sweetens the berry and glorifies its colour.... sculpting the innermost fabric of the tannins, merging texture and aromas one with another."
Groundwater reserves accumulated over winter allowed a surge in vegetative growth to take place at the beginning of the summer. Hydric stress then set in which, although partially tempered by cooler nights, caused vine growth to slow or even shut down completely. Summer enabled the red grapes to develop a potential in anthocyanins and tannins befitting of a great vintage.
September saw the start of a superb Indian summer offering ideal conditions for leisurely, perfect berry ripening. It was then time for harvest. There was no hurry. The ambiance was serene, relaxed, with no concerns other than that of picking the grapes at the peak of their maturity.
Emmeline Borie, Co-owner of Château Grand-Puy-Lacoste recounts: "our Andalusian grape pickers had the impression that they were at home in the south of Spain during this September in the Medoc."
Guillaume Pouthier, Director of Château les Carmes Haut-Brion, relates "Rarely has the window for harvesting been so wide and permitted such disparity in the choice of harvest dates for each parcel". He chose to "avoid the extravagance of the vintage and give preference to a dense phenolic structure with a fine granularity enveloped in a plumpness in which, in the context of low acidities, all flabbiness is avoided by the practice of whole bunch vinification."
Each château is free to harvest according to their own chosen style. Pauline Vauthier, co-owner at Château Ausone is quite clear in her vision of things: "we prefer to harvest a day in advance rather than a day late." Whilst François Mitjaville of Château Tertre Roteboeuf reveals to us a quite different philosophy: "Wines made from grapes picked on the verge of decadence age better than those made from early harvests and grapes that are too crisp. You have to seek out the freshness in slight over-ripeness."
What went into the cellar at all the properties was small, extremely concentrated and highly aromatic fruit. Marielle Cazaux, Director of Château La Conseillante, speaks with emotion: "We act with infinite delicacy in the cellar, on wines that possess as much complexity of aromas and abundance of qualities as they do promise for the decades to come."
The Red Wines:
The Merlots are well structured and remain beautifully fresh in spite of their high alcohol levels. The Cabernets are soft and aromatic, with all the legendary refinement of this grape. The small size of the berries and the thickness of their skins resulted in very concentrated wines.
At Saint-Emilion and Pomerol the wines are positively majestic, rejuvenated by the increased part of Cabernet Franc in the blends.
The wines from the Medoc have an imperial quality to them. Their excellence is consistent, particularly in the colder northern terroirs such as Saint-Estèphe or Pauillac. Saint-Julien is notable for its homogeneity.
Pessac-Leognan, sadly heavily impacted by mildew, has great depth and expresses the noblesse of the terroir.
The White Wines
The whites are the big surprise of 2018, offering amazing freshness in this hot, dry vintage.
The Sweet Wines
The dry Indian summer of 2018 delayed the onset of Botrytis. Drying of the grapes, or passerillage, was observed here and there. But by mid-October fresh outbreaks of rain helped the fungus to develop rapidly, allowing the harvest to be completed swiftly. The wines are fresh and of great precision.
The Market for En Primeur wines
Some of our loyal customers express a certain perplexity in the face of so many consecutively fine vintages. Certainly, 2018 forms part of the club of great years which includes 2009, 2010, 2015 and 2016. Global warming has prompted a cycle of fine autumn weather that now seems to be a feature in Bordeaux. Perhaps the perfectly ripe vintage, picked at the optimum moment, will one day become the "norm".
In the meantime, you should not miss out on this splendid vintage, where opulence and freshness form a marriage made in heaven, where explosive aromas and the beauty of soft, dense tannic structures will lift the spirits of all who love to drink Bordeaux. Young, to savour its velvety tannins, or after cellaring, to take joy in a wine magnified by its years of maturity.
Each Friday come at Caves Legrand and live an amazing experience around wines and winemakers. Train and test you taste buds during a blind tasting. Taste a mystery wine, make a statement (producer-cuvée-vintage) and try to win two places for our Wine School. Name of the wine will be announced on Saturday on Instagram. Only at Caves Legrand.
Meteorological conditions that were vastly disparate from one appellation to another, and sometimes even from one property to another, render it an extremely difficult task to resume the 2017 vintage in Bordeaux.
One thing is certain, this vintage is a reminder of just how risky a business viticulture is.
Although this year will remain in our collective memory as the one when half of the harvest was wiped out by frost, it is important to look at the facts and establish the truth of the matter.
Following a cold January, the months of February and March were particularly mild which accelerated the vegetative cycle, provoking rapid growth in the vines. The good weather continued into the first two weeks of April, with first leaves appearing in such abundance that when, on the nights of 27 and 28 April, the temperature plummeted to around -3°, the damage inflicted by the frost was extremely severe and comparable to that of 1991.
Whilst the damage was significant, it was above all extremely uneven, with certain appellations like Saint-Estèphe or Pauillac escaping almost entirely unscathed. At Saint-Emilion some properties, such as Dassault, were decimated whereas Ausone was untouched. At Pomerol some properties were equipped with anti-frost wind turbines or used candles that they had had in stock for years to raise the temperature by 2 to 3°, sufficient to protect the vines.
After this disastrous episode that traumatised everyone favourable conditions set in until the beginning of September.
In those vineyards that escaped the frost, flowering began almost fifteen days earlier than average and proceeded perfectly. Alternate sun and rain in the month of June caused the bunches to grow rapidly. In July there was drought, and hot days and cools nights caused growth to slow down before veraison, which began at the end of the month. The weather in August created beneficial levels of hydric stress.
In the vineyards that had suffered from frost two completely different approaches were adopted, determined by the intensity of the frost and the reaction of the vines. Some winemakers considered that, given the blow that nature had inflicted upon them, it was preferable to allow the vines to rest and wait for the following vintage. Others, on the contrary, decided to wait for regrowth.
For those that chose this second path, the particularly favourable meteorological conditions described above allowed some of their parcels to produce new shoots, with a delay of around 15 days on average. The effects of this were felt right up to the harvest, where two passages were necessary to pick the grapes at different stages of development.
The change in the weather in September was brutal. Heavy rain in the second week disrupted picking which on some estates had begun with the reds at the end of August, the grapes having already attained maturity. The rain was untimely for the merlots, however fine, dry weather at the end of September was extremely beneficial for the cabernets which were harvested in excellent conditions up to the beginning of October.
From September, Caves Legrand Filles & Fils will propose exclusive suitcases specially designed for air travelling. Winefit is an elegant and secured way to travel with your bottles around the world.
Designed and tailored by brasilian brand WINEFIT, those suitcases are entirely handmade and comply with international standards for liquid and alcohol air transport.
Caves Legrand Filles & Fils is the only WINEFIT point of sale in Europe: a new and exclusive product to the European market.
"Our suitcases are harmony between luxury and usefulness, between quality and design"
Marta Toledo, Winefit marketing director
The suitcases are available in 3 different designs and can be customized:
0,37m x 0,47m x 0,32m
Empty weight: 5,3 kg
Full weight: 13,7kg
Price: €620 (All taxes included)
0,37m x 0,83m x 0,32m
Empty weight: 7,2kg
Full weight: 24,0kg
Price: €800 (All taxes included)
0,40m x 0,83m x 0,34m
Empty weight: 8,7 kg
Full weight: 31.8 kg
Price: €900 (All taxes included)
Elegant and convenient
- artisanal manufacture
- noble raw materials
- leather handles and closings
- upright design - "2 storeys"
- suit all bottle shapes
Secure and standard
- Cordura nylon up to 4 times more resistant than a classic nylon
- shielded back wheels to bear the bottles weight
- aluminium framework entirely padded
- protection against temperature variations
- complies with international standards for liquid and alcohol air transport
Discover the Winefit suitcases now in our shop!
Chocolate chickens, fishes, pralines eggs and all kinds of Easter treats await you at our Epicerie !
To celebrate Easter, we have renewed our partnership with Maison Bonnat, the celebrated chocolatier established 1844 in Voiron en Isère.
As of today, clients who spend 80€ or more at Chez Legrand Filles & Fils (grossery store,accessory,books) can enter our Easter Tombola to be be drawn on Thursday, 24 March at 2pm. The winner receives a giant Easter egg created by Maison Bonnet (178g).
We would like to inform you that Legrand Filles et Fils will be closed on Monday, January 25th, 2016 (except for Wine School).
Thank you for your understanding.
The Legrand's team
Legrand's team wishes you a wonderful Wine Christmas !
The Legrand's team will be glad to welcome you on :
Saturday, November 1st : from 10:00 to 7:00 at the Shop / from 12:00 to 8:30 at the Comptoir
Tuesday, November 11th : from 10:00 to 7:00 at the Shop / from 12:00 to 7:30 at the Comptoir
Sundays, December 7, 14 and 21th : from 10:00 to 7:00 at the Shop / from 12:00 to 7:30 at the Comptoir.
Link to video (in french) : http://bit.ly/1kXacmM
For Legrand Filles et Fils, Jean Orliac looks back over the twenty years he, and his wife Marie-Thérèse, have spent building Domaine L'Hortus.
In the beginning there were no vines, only some abandoned terraces and rocky slopes nestled between the dramatic cliffs of Pic St Loup and the Montagne de L'Hortus. Entranced by the idyllic setting, and convinced the terroir had potential, Jean (whose grandfather was also winegrower) and his wife moved to la Combe de Fambétou in the 70s.
They started from the ground up, building everything from the winery to a family home. Over the next twenty years the couple devoted every weekend and holiday to clearing the terrain and planting their 60ha vineyard. It took ten years before they were ready to release their first vintage in 1990.
His range of wines: red, white and rosé, the ‘Grande Cuvee' Domaine L'Hortus, second label wines from the estate and also grapes and wines carefully selected from neighbouring vineyards (Bergerie de L'Hortus) are renowned worldwide and have played a major role in building international recognition for the wines of Pic St Loup.
Jean and Marie-Thérèse's four children, Marie, François, Yves and Martin have now taken up the helm and continue their parent's work with equal passion and determination.
Come and be tempted by our delicious seared filets of red mullet (sourced from Saint-Jean-de-Luz) served with carrots, red onion jam and cocoa bean sauce.
Our wine recommendation to enhance this surprising and exquisite dish is the "Vieilles Vignes" 2011 du Domaine Perrot-Minot' from Burgundy.
To see the full list of dishes and suggested wine pairings on offer this week, and to browse this month's wine list:
Thierry Germain, winegrower at Domaine des Roches Neuves, was at Caves Legrands for our ‘Tuesday Tasting' on 11th February.
He joined Domaine Roches Neuves in 1993, switching to biodynamic cultivation in early 2000s - obtaining Biodyvin certification in 2002 - following an encounter with Francois Bouchet, a consultant and author of a textbook on bio-dynamic viticulture which taught him the importance of plant husbandry.
More than just a passing ‘fad', biodynamics is, according to Thierry, a philosophy rooted in all living things. Whilst he concedes "biodynamics is not an assurance of quality”, it has transformed his perception and understanding of plants. His yields may be altered, but so too have the balance of sugars, alcohol and acid in his wines.
These choices bore fruit when, in 2004, Thierry Germain was featured as one of Wine Spectator's Top 100 Winemakers in the world and named ‘France's best winemaker' by Revue de Vin de France in 2011.
See the video (in french) :
On 4th February, Caves Legrands welcomed Frédéric Faye, director of Château Figeac and owner of Domaine Blandine de Brier Manoncourt, for the 'Tuesday Tasting'. It was an opportunity to enjoy an exceptional vertical tasting of 10 vintages and discover more about Château Figeac.
See the video (in french) :
This is a system that exists only in Bordeaux. It consists in buying wines that will be bottled and delivered for a further 12-18 months. The wines are tasted by the experts from all over the world during the En Primeur week in spring to set up a release price, according to what the vintage promises to be ...
En Primeur price is almost always cheaper than the future price on the open market. It's also an opportunity to secure wines that are available in very limited quantities.
Every year since 1945, a great artist has illustrated the label of Château Mouton Rothschild. Thus, the most famous names in contemporary art are brought together in a collection to which a new work is added each year.
The commission for the illustration of the 2014 vintage was given to the English painter David Hockney, born in 1937. Influenced by Pop Art and a master of the most up-to-date techniques, from acrylics to the iPad, he nevertheless falls within the figurative tradition, especially portraiture, painting people and objects in bright, contrasting colours.
David Hockney was a personal friend of Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, who died in 2014 and to whom his drawing pays tribute. Haloed by vibrant lines of force, signifying both emotion and wonder, two glasses, one empty, the other full, tell the story of feverish expectation and the constantly renewed miracle of the birth of a great wine: Château Mouton Rothschild, of which Baroness Philippine was for so long the guiding spirit.
The Legrand's team will be glad to welcome you on :
- Thursday 5th of May from 10:00am to 7:30pm
The shop will be closed on Monday 16th of May.
Thanks for your understanding.
We would like to inform you that Legrand Filles et Fils will be closed on Monday, February 29th, 2016 for inventory.
Thank you for your understanding.
The Legrand's team
We wish you a very happy new year full of wonderful wine tastings !
This week, our team at Comptoir de Dégustation offer you poached lobster (sourced from "la Marée de la Baie") served warm with avocado, samphire and baby leaf salad, lotus flower crisps and spicy mayonnaise.
This delicate and refreshing salad is perfectly matched with the rich and supple Pinot Gris "Sonnenglanz" 2008 from Domaine Trapet.
For a full list of this week's specialities : http://bit.ly/1gmqEMP
This week's Tuesday Tasting played to a packed audience with all eyes riveted on Burgundy and its mythical terroirs. Christophe Roumier, come specially from Chambolle Musigny to be with us, hosted a spectacular horizontal tasting of vintage 2011 followed by a vertical tasting of Chambolle Musigny, Les Cras, 1er Cru (2010 to 2005) culminating with two Corton Charlemagne (2007 & 2011).
Representing the third generation, having joined his father in 1981, Christophe adopts an ‘organic' approach to viticulture, having been inspired by esteemed friends Dominique Lafon and Frédéric Lafarge, who were early converts to the field. Whilst he does not claim to be strictly organic in very way, he passionately believes in many it of its principals, such as limiting the use of chemical sprays, preferring instead to plough the vines, which he has found results in more diverse and abundant vegetation, healthier grapes and better extraction potential in his wines.
It this approach, together with conducting his vinifications with as little intervention as possible, which in the end allows him achieve the most pure expression of terroir in his wines.
Yesterday, our ‘Tuesday Tasting' focused on Italy. Laura Collobiano guided us on a journey to Valgiano, her 60ha domaine (20ha of which fall in the appellation of Colline Lucchesi). Located in northern Tuscany, between the Appenine Mountains and the coast, this fertile oasis is farmed biodynamically.
The assembled guests were all utterly seduced by her wines - Palistorti red, Palistorti white and the Tenuta di Valgiano red tasted across several vintages - which she describes as "a liquid expression of Valgiano and its landscapes”.
See the video (in french) :
Bruno Lorenzon, winegrower in Mercurey (Burgundy), visited Caves Legrand for a tasting showcasing his 2012 vintage.
A vintage he describes as "athletic” capable of "keeping pace with Usain Bolt”. An apt metaphor from this rugby and cycling fanatic who works his wines like a sports coach. He proudly presented his Champ-Martin, Pièce 15 and Pièce 13, which beguile with their balance, elegance and vibrant acidity. He confided in us that it was "the finest vintage he'd ever made”, one he dreams about making every year.