The 2006 Bordeaux En Primeur Season – The Weather Story

faculty1.jpg The 2006 En Primeur season certainly did not provide the same excitement as the 2005 one did. Unlike last year, critics aren’t declaring this to be the best vintage of the decade let alone the century. Wine makers and négociants alike while being positive are more muted in their praise. The weather has a lot to do with this response. The weather patterns in Bordeaux during the latter part of harvesting set the tone for the vintage.

Sharp contrasts in the weather alternating between very high temperatures in July and September with low ones in August heavily influenced the vintage. The stormy weather during mid September forced wine growers to pick more quickly as they were worried about rot.

As a result, picking started early with Merlot grapes being picked from September 12th onwards. The later maturing Cabernet grapes finished ripening slightly later and were picked as the month ended. The early October rains forced the wine growers to pick the last of the Cabernet grapes in a rush just as rot was beginning to set in.
Not surprisingly, the grapes that did best were the early picked Merlots especially those from clay soils. With the October rains, it was a more difficult year for the Cabernet, with the grapes picked from fine gravelly soil doing best.
The weather patterns helped the Sauternes the most. The alternating wet periods followed by hot dry periods were conducive to the development of noble rot. The yields were lower than 2005 but as Denis Dubourdieu of the Faculty of Oenology explained (photograph on the left), the grapes combined the concentration, good acidity and aromatic complexity typical of a great vintage for sweet white Bordeaux.
What did this all mean for the wine? Blending to make the perfect wine was harder than usual. As a result, the best wines are the ones that have been most carefully and astutely blended.

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