The harvesting was prolonged until October 14th, to allow the late plots to complete their ripening. Despite continuing fine weather, some of them didn’t quite make it, probably because of severe lack of water in the soil. So we had to discard an unusually large proportion of the crop – around 23%. Some of these batches might have been kept for the second wine in a more typical vintage, but the potential of 2009 is awesome. Pavillon Rouge then only represents 41% of the crop.
Cabernet Sauvignon: 67%; Merlot: 29%; Petit Verdot: 4%: these proportions ensure a certain classicism of style although there is exceptional tannic power, even greater than that of Pavillon Rouge 2005. The high proportion of Cabernet has helped preserve a moderate alcoholic degree – barely 13.4. The real greatness of the 2009 however, is in how those concentrated tannins have been given amazing softness and delicacy. We have never known such wonderful balance.
After a cold, dry winter, the weather turned rainy and cool in April, causing a rather late bud-break and a somewhat slow growth of the vine shoots. As from May 1st however, temperatures rose quite sharply and settled above the seasonal norms, without ever reaching excessive highs. This allowed a quick and successful flowering that promised a very even ripening of the berries.
By then a drought had begun to set in, though in these early days we had no idea of how severe and long it would actually be. Very few vintages (apart from the 2005) have been so dry. It hardly rained from July 10th until the end of the harvest on October 14th!
Such dry weather is particularly beneficial to the great terroirs which can regulate the water supply to the vines, and also to Cabernet Sauvignon because it is less affected by drought than Merlot. Still, some of the vines planted in lighter and less clayey soils struggled to get their grapes perfectly ripe.
While these very dry months had some very hot days, the nights remained rather cool. This contrast helped the tannins and anthocyanins to concentrate in the skins of the red. All the pieces were gradually falling into place to make 2009 a really outstanding vintage. (The picking began September 24th).