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Home > News > Coverages > The 2014 vintage: a miraculous Indian summer!
18 Nov 2014

The 2014 vintage: a miraculous Indian summer!

This was not an easy year for winegrowers...

The weather during the 2014 growing season was capricious in spring, not very warm in summer – but nothing short of miraculous in September and October.

What a splendid gift Mother Nature gave Bordeaux in 2014: the sort of Indian summer such as the region had not experienced in years! The grapes reached perfect ripeness and there is every indication that this will be a great year in our vineyards.

Vendanges 3

If you had run into Christian Siutat, our Viticultural Manager over the past few weeks, you would have noticed his pleased expression and he would have explained:  "We started picking under ideal conditions and even had the luxury – because it really is a luxury for us – to take our time to wait for each grape variety to ripen perfectly before harvesting. The fruit was in truly in remarkably fine shape.

Our vineyard and cellar teams were out in the vines every day starting in late August to see how the grapes were doing, to taste them, and to pinpoint the ideal time to harvest each variety, each plot, and even each row (according to the desired profile of our future blends)… Denis Dubourdieu, Michel Rolland, our consulting oenologists, and their colleagues helped us in this respect.  This meticulous work was made possible thanks to the incredible weather in late summer... We also have quite a large team of hard-working, dynamic pickers at our disposal – 100 people – especially in Pessac-Léognan at châteaux Couhins-Lurton and La Louvière. They are dispatched as needed for very selective manual picking (including several passes in the vineyard)..." 

Summary of weather during the growing season

raisin blanc

Winter and spring were relatively mild, and it looked as though this would be an early-maturing year. In fact, vine growth was nearly 2 weeks ahead of time in early May (similar to 2003).

However, this head start compared to the thirty-year average (1993-2013) later disappeared: 2014 will thus remain a classic vintage in terms of picking dates.

The fair few showers in July and cool average temperatures in August (which was devoid of any heat waves) led us to expect a difficult harvest in terms of ripening.

However, the fine Indian summer starting in late August was extraordinarily beneficial and promoted excellent ripening since above-average daytime temperatures alternated with cool night-time ones.  This was perfect for ripening the grapes!

 A famous folk saying in Bordeaux is that août fait le moût, septembre fait le vin (August is vital for the quality of the juice, and September for that of the wine). This was perfectly illustrated in 2014.

Here is a chart with weather information at our various estates.

2014 white wines: lower yields, but extremely fine quality

Vendanges Château Couhins-Lurton

2014 was an interesting and even astonishing vintage for white Bordeaux due to the above-average acidity (malic acid content) compared to recent years. Our consulting oenologist, Denis Dubourdieu, did not hesitate to compare the white Bordeaux wines from this vintage with wines from other regions such as Burgundy and Sancerre. 

The white grapes were wonderfully aromatic. They underwent carefully-controlled skin contact somewhat longer than in the past few years. This resulted in greater complexity due to a natural drop in acidity and increase in aromatic intensity. The fine weather enabled us to harvest cool grapes very early in the morning. Once the winepresses were full, the grapes were left to macerate for 5-6 hours before pressing.

The juice was of outstanding quality. However, the quantity was somewhat lower than in recent vintages and yields were especially small in Pessac-Léognan.

The wines are currently ageing and Château Bonnet's white wine is being blended.

The 2014 white wines are excellent.

Château Bonnet rosé shows its Provençal side in 2014!

Vendanges 2

The 2014 rosé wine is especially successful at Château Bonnet. The Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes were perfectly ripe and picked in great condition. The grapes were harvested when still cool and immediately brought to the cellar, where they were carefully macerated to extract just the right degree of colour. 

This easy-going rosé is tremendously delicate, with a lovely pale pink colour and a little something "Provençal" about it...  The aromas encompass a range of fresh fruit, including citrus. Laurent Ledez, cellarmaster at Château Bonnet, will be especially attentive to the balance between roundness and acidity so that the wine from this vintage can attain its full potential.

Our Scandinavian clients will be the first to share their appreciations of this wine at a tasting in Sweden in late November. The wine is finishing its fermentation, and tastings to determine the final blend are planned before the end of the year. Bottling is scheduled for early 2015.

The 2014 red wines: beautiful colour and dense tannin.

It is still too early to make any sort of pronouncement about the red wines, especially since the red grapes were the last to come into the cellars. 


However, it is possible to have a rough idea of what these wines are like, and two things stand out at this stage: the beautiful colour and concentrated tannin.

This concentration is patent at châteaux La Louvière and Couhins-Lurton, where the grapes were picked by hand and fermented in small oak Roll fermentors. 

Four foudres, or large wooden vats are now used at Château La Louvière (making a total of 16) and a further two foudres were purchased for Château Couhins-Lurton, where fermentation in 225 litre Bordeaux barrels was practised for the first time this year. 

Even at this early stage, the 2014 vintage red wines are deeply-coloured, fruity, concentrated, elegant, and well-balanced. It is hoped that 60% of production will go into the grand vin (first wine).  Vincent Cruège, our Winemaking Director, predicts that these wines will have great ageing potential:  "I'm convinced that will age well and retain their fruitiness for many years to come!" It thus looks as though there will be some beautiful wines!

Here are the harvest dates in 2014 at our various estates.