Pavillon Blanc du Château Margaux
As everyone knows, the harvest date influences a wine’s aromatic and structural profile. In order to select the "right time" to harvest, we pay a lot of attention to the current physiological criteria. In 2018, considering the relatively high water stress in our Virefougasse vineyards and long periods of sunshine, acidity was the key parameter in our decision. Our aim is to add freshness to our Pavillon Blanc and thus give it every chance to age well over time. The sun, combined with low yields, resulted in satisfactory grape sugar levels which developed pleasant and complex aromas. We therefore began the harvest early which took place from the 27th to 31st of August.
Although our aim remains to choose the best batches from our vineyard selections, tasting revealed greater homogeneity, and we were able to use a higher proportion of batches than for previous vintages with almost half of the harvest making up the Pavillon Blanc 2018. This vintage, for which the weather conditions seemed less favourable to the production of fine white wines than in 2017, maintains our rigorous standards and reflects the style of the white wines we have been producing for nearly a decade.
The warmest year since the beginning of the 20th century, temperatures in 2018 were 3.24°F above the national average. In Margaux, the year began with a relatively mild winter with below-normal temperatures and occasional frosts in February which had no impact on our vines. The rest of the year was hot, sometimes very hot, compared with seasonal averages, marked by record-breaking temperatures in the last ten days of June and the first ten days of August, more than 7.2°F above the 30-year average.
Rainfall in the first half of the year was heavy with nearly 25 inches in Margaux between January 1st and July 10th, making growing conditions challenging. Each rainy day made a good vintage less likely. But dry and warm summer conditions eventually reached our region and remained until the end of the harvest. Rainfall was very low between mid-July and late September at 2 inches. This rainfall pattern is reminiscent of 2009.
Under these conditions, budbreak was relatively late between the 4th and the 10th of April. The vines flowered between the 25th and the 28th of May and, despite fairly poor conditions, we did not note, even in the relatively sensitive Merlot plots, poor or failed fruit-set. The greatest challenge was mildew which this year led to slightly lower yields than hoped for after the fruit-set.
The white grapes were harvested the week of August 27th. The red harvest took place from September 17th to October13th in ideal conditions. Again this year, we were able to choose the best time to harvest our grapes – no Botrytis symptoms, mild weather, ripening conditions sufficiently spread between the earliest Merlots and latest Cabernets – and we had time to take the necessary care with each wine-making vat. Nearly a hundred different batches were converted into wine this year, demonstrating our continued efforts for better and more precise selections.