We were hit by a dramatic event in the spring: on April 11th, our frost protection system failed to protect our vines. It happened in a subtle and insidious way with temperatures that were so mild (but with abnormally high humidity) that we did not think it necessary to switch on our anti-frost spray system… Every now and then, Mother Nature takes pleasure in reminding us that our control over her is not as simple as we might think, by humbling us with a hard lesson of which she alone has the secret! The direct consequence of the frost was a reduction of at least 50% of an already traditionally low yield. However, such a small crop of grapes proved to be a boon for the ripening in summer, particularly during the first ten days of September when the heat wave set in. The berries acquired and maintained extraordinary concentration; and there was the added advantage that the picking took place before the September rain.
The Pavillon Blanc 2006 is unparalleled: its alcoholic degree is almost 15; its aromatic richness and length on the palate are remarkable, without though matching the complexity of the 2004 and 2005. Its vivacity, especially, is such that the alcoholic degree almost goes unnoticed, and it pulls off the difficult feat of providing a fresh, sappy finish in line with the previous vintages. Could this be the terroir getting revenge on the vagaries of the climate?
After a rather cold winter (particularly during the month of February) but fortunately with more rainfall than in 2005, spring was so dry we almost started to get concerned about a possible lack of water for the vines. But that would have been forgetting just how adaptable vines are during a period of drought, and especially just how well great terroirs manage to even out such climatic extremes. On the other hand, our frost protection system was unable to prevent damage on April 11 at Virefougasse, the plot which produces the Pavillon Blanc, and resulted in a serious reduction in the potential yield.
The flowering, which took place in excellent conditions, promised an average-sized crop of red at picking dates very close to those of the previous two years.
The summer was then hot, even turning into a heat-wave during the last two weeks of July, the weather then cooled a little in August. It was dry, in particular: it rained less in July and August than during that same period in 2003! September brought the usual contrasting types of weather: very hot and dry for the first ten days, then mild and humid until the beginning of the harvest, then sufficiently dry to carry out the picking without any rush. This pattern of weather bears a strange resemblance to that of 1996, which had the same summer rain, the same very favourable weather at the end of August, and exactly the same rainfall from September 1st until the end of the picking. ... (The picking began on 19th September)