It’s in the difficult vintages that the very great terroirs reveal their incredible supremacy one way or another. This rule remains true for 2013, but we don’t exactly know why. Precocity is one of the reasons: our best Cabernet plots – among the earliest in the Médoc – had already reached a very good level of ripeness before the hasty harvest, and it came close, within four or five days, to reaching excellency. The other reasons remain, and will remain, unclear for a long time yet; the genius of great terroirs is difficult to fathom.
Whatever it is, all the large Cabernet plots have , without exception, produced magnificent wines, so clearly above all the others that the Château Margaux blending was, in fact, easy to decide. It consists of 38% of the harvest, a very classic figure. However, the proportions of the grape varieties are unusual: 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, the largest proportion ever; 5% Cabernet Franc, 1% Petit Verdot and… no Merlot at all. Even our best plot, which we had the luxury of harvesting with great care, turned out to be disappointing.
So we can expect a wine dominated by Cabernet: it is indeed, but not the way in which we would have thought. When ripe enough, Margaux Cabernets have a balance and softness that are otherwise characteristic of Merlot; and of course this charm and finesse belong only to their terroir.
Château Margaux 2013 cannot claim to be a great vintage: we know very well that it was born under difficult conditions. But we are immensely privileged to have produced it at the beginning of the 21st century when all the care and attention, all the sacrifices, are possible; this wine justifies all of these efforts.
The particularly cool temperatures at the end of winter and into spring delayed the shooting and then the flowering by a good ten days compared to the average. And as it also rained a lot during this period, the flowering was slow and the formation of the grapes difficult which caused a generalised “millerandage” and a bad problem of “coulure” - falling of underdeveloped fruit - in the Merlots. This latter phenomenon turned out to be more moderate for the Cabernets. Straightaway, we knew that the 2013 vintage wouldn’t be plentiful…
Fortunately, the summer drought enabled the grapes to catch up some of their lateness: at the moment of changing colour, we didn’t find the same heterogeneity as at the moment of flowering. It is also possible that their low quantity accentuated the catching up. At the beginning of September hope was growing for a harvest, certainly small, but that seemed to be ripening under excellent conditions.
September was paradoxical, relatively dry, but damp at the same time. Frequent small bursts of rain, in fact, maintained a raised ambient humidity without causing too much precipitation. So there was everything to play for until the end of the month when a sudden development of Botrytis led us to a quick start of the harvest ; in the end, the grapes would lose just a few days’ ripening, enough to dash the hopes of a great vintage, not enough to take away all its promises.
The harvest of the whites took place from the 19th to the 27th of September, and that of the reds, from the 30th of September to the 11th of October.