Although relatively small in size, the terroir is exceptional. Fronsac and Canon-Fronsac winemakers are convinced of the need for truly sustainable wine production. They have made significant environmental advances in recent years.
Using their knowledge and experience, winegrowers have improved techniques both in the vines through green harvesting, canopy management, etc. and in the wineries through improved sorting and the adaptation of maceration to the fruit. In addition, they have adopted new vinification methods while fully respecting the environment.
They are more than aware of the unique heritage cultivated by their predecessors. Consequently, they are committed to the preservation of their beautiful landscape and the protection of their prestigious terroir through the introduction of sustainable viticulture and practices that protect the environment.
Great wines, the fruit of an exceptional terroir
Fronsac and Canon Fronsac wines are a deep ruby red. They combine finesse with liveliness, while the dominant red fruit aromas are often enriched with touches of spice and sometimes even truffle. Full-bodied and generous wines, their tannic structure combines richness with elegance.
Many are ideal for aging as the wines develop over the years with the distinction associated with their remarkable terroir. Others, sometimes referred to as ‘new generation’ Fronsac wines are ready to drink much younger. Thus, there are Fronsac wines which suit different tastes.
2019 : Purity and elegance
The weather statistics in 2019 were close to ten-year averages, despite the heatwave in July. 2019’s hydric deficit was only 10% off ten-year figures. However, these averages do not report the varying, individual challenges that vines underwent depending on their age, the variety and terroir, where every winegrower had to take decisions to suit the needs of each parcel. This is what constituted the appeal of this vintage, which was unpredictable, worrying, disconcerting and in the end an exhilarating reward for all the hard work carried out.
Some technical highlights:
– The growth cycle began very early with budburst around 30th March, one of the earliest and fastest in the last ten years, close to 2016.
– The first highlight was the frosty cold snaps on 13th April and 5th & 6th May, which slowed the vines’ phenological development and caused damage locally.
– The second highlight was the rainy episode at the beginning of June during flowering, which caused poor fruit set and hens and chickens (millerandage) to a greater or lesser degree.
– The third highlight was the extreme heat and drought between 23rd June and 23rd July with peaks on 26th June and 23rd July, temperatures regularly above 30°C (86°F), between 4 and 20 mm of rainfall and a short episode of hail.
– We were saved by rain in August and a rapid onset of ripening around 7th August that finally put all doubts and uncertainties behind us.
– The last fears about quantity and quality for this vintage were finally dispelled by the perfect conditions for ripening and harvesting that ensued with alternating cool nights and warm days. The varying impacts caused quite significant irregularity, so different harvest strategies had to be developed from one parcel to another. In both early- and late-ripening areas, 2019 was a clear illustration that vines adapt extraordinarily to conditions and that dry years always yield great vintages.
– With this vintage that was sometimes brutal, an auspicious outcome such as this would not have been possible if our winegrowers had not displayed a very finely tuned sense of anticipation and when to take action.
– Medium to small grapes with thick skins. Relatively high alcohol content, often above 13.5% ABV, with the Merlot and Cabernet varieties and balanced acidity. Magnificently fresh Cabernet.
And the wines are crafted to perfection!
– These differences in grape ripeness produce incredible complexity: plenty of colour with highly concentrated anthocyanins, a sliding scale of aromas ranging from notes of fresh fruit to hints of ripe fruit, sweetness, structure and lovely balance.
– These 2019 wines are just beginning their ageing; they are clean-cut with great purity, elongated and breathtakingly elegant.
2018 : Power and colour
A year rich in sunshine
After experiencing heavy rainfall in the spring and a period of drought in August, 2018 was a generally hot and dry year. With temperatures above the average 7 months out of 12, the vines were able to benefit from a low and regular water supply until the harvest.
A controlled disease
These weather conditions led to unprecedented mildew pressure in the spring, raising fears of the worst. Thanks to the winegrowers’ vigilance and reactivity, anti-disease measures were put in place and were able to contain the disease until the end of July.
Some technical points of reference:
– After a winter marked by heavy rainfall, the mild and humid spring allowed a rapid flowering. The severe dryness of the summer led to early and rather spread veraison. Phenolic surveys are close to 2015. 2018 confirms that with a dry year always comes a great vintage.
– The light rains of mid-September were very beneficial, then the dry and hot conditions from September to October, accompanied by cool nights, made it possible to harvest à la carte at the optimal maturity of the grapes.
– Depending on the situation, drought and damage caused by mildew have sometimes led to a drop in yields (accentuated by the strict sorting of the harvest in the cellars). Moderate yields and the effects of the drought have given grapes with thick skins rich in aromas and phenolic compounds.
– The alcoholic degrees of Merlot and Cabernets vary between 13% vol. and 15% vol., well balanced by the freshness present in the wines, which brings finesse, elegance and length.
A shower of compliments
During the ageing process, all the facets of this vintage are expressed: fruity wines of great finesse and subtle freshness, dense and unctuous, highlighted by woody and spicy accents. All are supported by beautiful aromatic persistence.
Already, the wines of this vintage are beginning to show their potential and there is no shortage of positive comments: beautiful colour, complexity, purity, freshness and aromatic power, structured, smooth and long on the palate. A great Bordeaux classic, a bright future in prospect!
2017 … The whims of nature
2017 was warm, changeable and very hard. 2017 brought frosts at the end of April, which 25 years after the last catastrophe of this magnitude, significantly hit wine production volumes in our appellation areas and upset our winegrowers’ routines. Despite the tiny harvest, the fruit was thoroughly sorted in the vineyards to ensure more uniform quality. In August and September, the weather rewarded all this hard work.
Aside from the difficulties, 2017 wines are of good quality with some splendid achievements to reward the efforts of the Saint-Emilion – Pomerol – Fronsac winegrowers.
Some of the weather highlights that characterised 2017 and their consequences:
• Bud break took place in very favourable conditions – April was dry like the preceding winter – and the embryo bunches were very regular.
• Frost hit on 20th, 21st, 27th and 28th April when the vines were growing fast. Temperatures sometimes dropped to -4°C (25°F), which damaged the buds to a varying degree.
• The vines that escaped the frost, flowered very early and uniformly around 15th May in very hot weather up to 30°C (86°F). Frost-affected vines flowered later, but also in very hot weather between 19th and 21st June with more humidity from mid-June onwards.
• Summer conditions were mild and quite humid, even if 2017 suffered a very high deficit of rainfall overall.
• Ripening began (véraison) early in the vines that escaped the frost around 20th July, while those hit by frost followed 10 days later. Ripening was slowed by very changeable weather. There was a heatwave from 23rd to 29th August.
• Harvesting began around 20th September and lasted until 20th October in mild, dry weather.
Points to remember:
• A warm year with irregular rainfall.
• Very low yields, except for the vines that were not hit by frost, down on average 60% compared to usual.
• Unique harvest conditions and operations, because of the low volumes of fruit.
• Many campaigns in the vineyards right up to the harvest.
• Extremely strict, sometimes inventive, sorting in the cellars, selecting fruit according to ripeness and vinifying small quantities.
• Every batch picked required specific care and monitoring to extract the best.
• Selection between first and second wine was more demanding than usual, and sometimes it was decided not to produce a first wine.
On tasting, the wines that are currently being aged display the special complexity of this vintage with very different situations in the Saint-Emilion – Pomerol – Fronsac estates, which were variably hit by frost. These are demanding wines and they are being aged gently and according to their individual needs. In the areas less affected by frost, the vines grew normally, and the wines produced in usual quantities show concentration comparable to the recent great vintages. In the more affected areas, a lot of hard work produced wines in low quantities that are very fruity, fresh and well-balanced with a measure of elegance typical of our region. Despite everything, 2017 promises some lovely surprises and some fine achievements.
2016 : When nature surpassed itself
2016 is one of the most outstanding vintages in winegrowers’ memory for its weather conditions and its radical sequences of rain and cold from January to June, of stifling heat and drought in summer, followed by liberating rainfall at the beginning of September, then sun, warmth and cool nights from mid-September onwards. This succession of meteorological about-turns made us all fear the worst throughout the year, but in the end, all our hard work has been rewarded beyond our wildest dreams with a great vintage. The nice surprise came from the vines, which, apart for the young ones that suffered, handled the spring conditions and especially the summer amazingly well, thanks in particular to abundant ground water that had collected during winter.
The wines are beginning to reveal their potential and there are many positive things being said: impressive colour, strong, complex aromas, big and nicely balanced on the palate and ripe tannins. Simply said, they are magnificent.
Weather highlights in 2016
– After a very rainy winter, spring was cool and very wet. From January to June, three quarters of the average annual rainfall comfortably refilled our ground water deposits. Flowering began late at the end of May and was spread out and quite irregular. The mid-flowering point of the Merlot vines was noted between 6th and 15th June, depending on the areas.
– From the end of June onwards, there was a dramatic switch in the weather: temperatures climbed by 10°C and summer settled in with no further rain worth noting until mid-September.
– Summer was hot and especially dry with drought conditions spanning from 24th June to 12th September. In August, we had 15 mm (0.59 inch) of rain instead of the usual 100 mm (nearly four inches). Vine growth stopped dead and early, which was a fundamental contributor to quality. The young vines with shallower root systems showed signs of suffering in places. The rest benefited from these outstanding conditions thanks to the water reserves built up during the winter and spring.
The first grapes to start changing colour were observed in the early-developing areas around 25th July. The change in colour was slow and late, triggered by fine weather towards the end of the season. The mid-point of the colour change occurred between the 8th and 18th of August.
– September was also hot (1.5°C warmer than the average) and the 40 mm of rain that fell depending on the areas, kick-started grape ripening. Sugar-content and acidity balanced out, and slowly and gently the fruit attained perfect ripeness.
– Nature gave us an extra helping hand at the end of September, when the harvest began in radiant sunshine and daytime temperatures of 25 to 30°C (77 to 86°F) with a cooler 10 to 12°C (50 to 54°F) at night. These fantastic conditions helped ripen the grape skins and pips, while the fruit remained fresh.
– As they tasted the grapes, the winegrowers sensed the extraordinary potential of this vintage build from one week to the next. They were able to harvest clean, ripe grapes as they reached their best and on the dates chosen.
Important points to remember about this vintage:
– Yields were generally higher than the 10-year average, which enabled winemakers to apply a wider, bolder range of vinification methods, selections and blends.
– The fruit was very clean and ripe when it was picked, thanks to the fine weather in September and October.
– Merlot and Cabernet alcohol contents varied between 13 and 14% by volume. The wines’ freshness makes them elegant, subtle and long.
– The great complexity of the ripe fruit and the incredibly smooth tannins have been enhanced today by three to four months of wood. As they age, the wines tasted, whatever their styles, combine immediate appeal and keeping potential. They promise enormous enjoyment, now and for many years to come.
– Today these wines respect and express the full diversity of Saint-Emilion – Pomerol – Fronsac terroirs.
– 2016 is nature’s bounty and joins 2015 in a different style as one of the great Saint-Emilion – Pomerol – Fronsac vintages.
2015 : A generous and benevolent nature
At the first sound of the secateurs, the winegrowers of Saint-Emilion – Pomerol – Fronsac sensed that the promise of the season would be kept. The first tasting of the wines-in-the-making confirmed the remarkable characteristics of this vintage with wines that are fruity, deep, well balanced and with well integrated tannins for all of the grape varieties.
A few highlights of the 2015 climatology:
• The flowering took place between the end of May and mid-June in an even manner with a very favourable climate that was hot and dry (2°C higher than the average over the last 30 years),
• The month of July was very hot and very dry, with sometimes, on normally very filtering soils, a situation of severe drought, but the rain at the end of July alleviated this situation.
• The verasion (normally 5th to 7th August) took place in conditions alternating between daytime heat and nighttime coolness with a few days of rain (50mm) that were evenly spread out during the month bringing with it a very good ripeness for the grapes.
• The cooler month of September favoured an optimal phenolic maturity, albeit longer than expected depending on the terroirs, which explained the staggering of the harvest dates, from the 15th of September onward.
The methods of quality optimization (leaf thinning, green harvesting, sorting…) and the monitoring of the maturity (visual, analyses, grape berry tasting….) that were implemented by the winegrowers of Saint-Emilion -Pomerol – Fronsac allowed them to pick the perfectly ripe and healthy grapes.
A few key points:
• The grapes, that were very healthy and ripe, were picked in optimal conditions thanks to lovely weather in September and October.
• The yields were around the average over the decade.
• The wines are concentrated and well-balanced, and appear to be very promising. The fruit character is very present and the tannins are of an incredible suavity.
• The alcohol levels of the Merlots and the Cabernets vary between 13% and 14% by vol.
• The malo-lactic fermentations were held easily and after 3 to 4 months of ageing, the wines show a remarkable complexity, length and smoothness.
To resume :
The weather of the 2015 vintage was remarkably favourable: a warm year (one of the hottest summers on record) with just enough rain and at the right moment.
A late-summer season, September and October, with a good thermal amplitude between night and day allowed the slow refinement of the grape skins with a magnificent phenolic and aromatic potential. All of the grape varieties reached a high level of richness with a very well-balanced relation between acid and sugar.
Harvest was spread between the 15th of September and the end of October depending on the zones and the “oenological” decisions taken.
The yields are good with a sound homogeneity and an exceptional disease-free state.
The alcoholic and malo-lactic fermentations took place with ease.
All of these favourable conditions permitted the crafting of wines with a deep hue, that were fleshy and mellow, with very ripe fruit and lovely tannins; Promising wines that the winegrowers of Saint-Emilion -Pomerol -Fronsac are proud to present, leaving the judgement up to the taster to choose their favourite among all of the great successes of this grand vintage.
2014 : Their promising outlook is confirmed
The first tastings describe the 2014 wines as being round, well-balanced, very charming with smoothness and an unaggressive tannic structure. The lovely Cabernets impart richness and fruit together with the softness and finesse of the Merlots. These delicate wines gain power and finesse from the well dosed and skillfully mastered barrel ageing. Great success stories on the horizon for this eagerly awaited vintage.
Looking back a little, all took place normally up until the month of July with its panoply of unforeseen events, hopes and stresses…..The rainy month of August gave way to numerous worries that were dissipated by an ideal month of September. The heat, the absence of rain and the cool nights not only allowed the grapes to ripen in optimal conditions but equally permitted the winegrowers to harvest at the best moment, starting from the 20th of September. The grape harvest was spread over approximately 3 weeks.
A few highlights of the 2014 weather conditions and their consequences:
• The flowering, that began at the end of May on early ripening terroirs, was rapid and homogenous. It continued until the 12th of June and took place under hot and relatively dry conditions
• The month of July was wet with heat peaks and stormy weather, at times accompanied by hail. The resulting effect was an active vine growth and a swelling of the berries but above all a constant vigilance on behalf of the winegrowers to avoid cryptogamic (mushroom-based) diseases throughout the complete growing season.
• The veraison lasted from the end of July until the 20th of August, as a result of the wet conditions at the beginning of August.
• The good weather at the end of the month of August stopped the vine-growth and permitted a more rapid and complete maturity of the grapes. The temperature variations between day and night favored the concentration and the preservation of the aromas in the grape skins.
• The grape harvest that began on the 20th of September went up until the 10th of October under hot and dry conditions.
The winegrowers of Saint-Emilion-Pomerol-Fronsac, who consistently seek optimal quality, undertook important vineyard work during the month of August (Green harvesting, leaf thinning….etc). This work was rewarded by the weather conditions of the month of September. The indispensable grape sorting during the harvest in the vines and/or the cellar permitted vatting with healthy and ripe grapes.
A few salient points of this vintage:
– The yields were generally good, around the average for the decade.
– The grapes were picked in a very healthy state due to the magnificent months of September and October
– The fruity character of the wines, enhanced by the ageing, is very pleasant, clean and with good intensity.
– The alcohol content of the Merlots and the Cabernets were good, between 12% and 13% by volume. The malo-lactic fermentations occured earlier than usual. The barrel fillings were undertaken before the end of 2014 and the wines, after 3 to 4 months, show an admirable integration and smoothness.
– A fresh mouthfeel thanks to proper acidity that integrates with the ageing and produces aromatic persistence to the wines.
This 2014 vintage, although surprising by its weather conditions, gave birth to wines that invite you to discover them. Their considerable increase in quality during ageing is proof of this.
The tasting of these 2014 wines shows ample fruit without any heaviness or rough tannins. They are crafted on refined, fresh and well integrated tannins, a lovely fruit core and will reveal themselves with ageing. Quality and drinking pleasure in the glass.
2012 : A Merlot Year
2012 was a late, unreliable and demanding vintage, which really tested the winegrowers’ patience throughout the whole year, before the harvest was at last happily brought in, in the sunshine of September and October. It cannot be denied that the quality of the wines so far is a clear reflection of all the attention to detail and careful monitoring of the vines that took place in the great Saint-Emilion – Pomerol – Fronsac terroirs.
It took more than a month to complete the harvest in dry, sunny weather, ending up in the last days of October.
Some of the weather features in 2012 and their consequences:
• After cool, wet weather in spring and early summer the sun returned in earnest as the season progressed and became hot and dry with temperatures peaking on 17 and 18 August. Rainfall was seriously lacking, totalling 120 mm less than the 30-year average. September and October were milder and close to more usual seasonal values (27-28°C on 5 October).
• Flowering was reasonably early at the end of May, similar to 2010, and spread out. The fruit began to change colour slowly at the beginning of August over a quite extended period.
• Spells of very hot weather contributed to the concentration of aromas, which were then locked up in the grape skins.
• Harvesting began at the end of September and continued in sunny weather until the end of October.
The winegrowers had to react quickly to the changes in the weather from one month to the next as cool, rainy spells were followed by hot, dry periods. The vines had to be closely observed and preventive measures taken, such as the removal of secondary shoots and leaves as well as thinning out the fruit as appropriate, while balancing fruit production on vines with over-heavy bunches or “hens and chickens”. Everything was done to enable the vines to thrive, even if they were sometimes challenged by severe weather, and ensure optimal ripening of the grapes.
Grapes ripen early on the Saint-Emilion – Pomerol – Fronsac terroirs, so it was possible to harvest the Merlot before the weather deteriorated at the end of October.
POTENTIAL OF THE FRUIT
All the key factors seem ideally combined to produce a very good result:
• A slow harvest lasting until the end of October
• Very good quality Merlot grapes
• Uneven quantities depending on the location
• Thick grape skins denoting an excellent concentration of anthocyanins (pigments that impart colour to the wine)
• The Merlot and Cabernet grapes in all locations had levels of natural potential alcohol higher than 12.5% by volume and balanced acidity
• Reasonable malic acid concentrations of less than 1 gram per litre, demonstrating good grape ripeness
• Complex fruity aromas, no vegetal hints. Round, well-structured and fresh on the palate, packed with crispy fruit.
The 2012 vintage had a tumultuous gestation period, which required constant attention. In the end, it has fully revealed the rich diversity of these great terroirs and all the expertise of the Saint-Emilion – Pomerol – Fronsac winegrowers.
After long, painstaking vinification, the wines are developing beautifully during ageing and are beginning to reveal the many wonderful characteristics of the great Saint-Emilion – Pomerol – Fronsac terroirs. The Merlot wines are developing their lovely potential for roundness and ripe fruit aromas. The Cabernet Franc wines are showing signs of a nice balance between supple freshness and black fruit. The Cabernet Sauvignon is concentrated and is mellowing slowly. The first blends display deep colour and a magnificent palette of ripe fruit. On the palate, they are packed with fruit and are fresh and smooth all at the same time. Pure enjoyment!
Saint-Emilion – Pomerol – Fronsac 2012, a Merlot year with Fruit and Colour.
2011 : The Master Craftsmen’s vintage
This was a demanding vintage, which forced our winegrowers to throw away the text book and adapt to unparalleled conditions applying inventive techniques and close attention to detail in their vines. The result is clearly in keeping with the quality of work carried out in the great terroirs of Saint-Emilion – Pomerol – Fronsac.
The last Cabernet grapes were slowly picked in October in brilliant sunshine, which was a great way to round off this unpredictable vintage.
Some of the salient features of the weather during the 2011 growth cycle and their consequences:
– Spring and early summer broke all known records in terms of heat and drought, while July, August and mid-September were much closer to seasonal averages; the end of September and beginning of October returned to extraordinarily warm weather making us feel we had turned full circle
– The vintage underwent hydric stress early: there was a serious water shortage from January to July. No rainfall exceeded 5mm before the end of June. Such weather conditions have never been observed in 60 years. It was very hot in June, at the end of September and beginning of October.
– Very early flowering – 3 weeks earlier than in 2010 – and very concentrated at the beginning of May. Grapes began ripening (véraison) at the end of June. The vines’ growth cycle from bud burst to the onset of ripening was the earliest and shortest in at least 20 years.
– Harvesting started at the beginning of September, about ten days earlier than in 2010 and continued in the sunshine until the beginning of October.
Throughout the year, the winegrowers were faced with very variable conditions and had to adapt to these unusual circumstances by working to help their vines undergo the extraordinary, changeable weather. Cultivation of grass between the rows had to be controlled, while de-leafing and thinning out had to be carried out at the right times and vineyard treatments were used preventively. The winegrowers had to be masters of their craft, tailoring their work in order to support vines weakened by the heat, to balance fruit loads, to remove “over-stressed” grapes, to sort through bunches while still on the vines and in the cellar, to let air circulate around the fruit, etc., and wait as calmly as possible for the fruit to ripen during the more favourable summer weather.
POTENTIAL OF THE FRUIT
Everything seems to have come together ideally to produce a very good outcome:
• Harvesting continued in the sun until the beginning of October
• The Merlot and Cabernet grapes picked were of wonderful quality
• The grapes were small with thick skins, containing extraordinarily concentrated colour
• The Merlot and the Cabernet grapes picked in all areas had more than 12.5% natural potential alcohol by volume with balanced acidity and very low malic acid concentrations below 0.5g per litre, showing that the fruit was perfectly ripe
• There were powerful fruity aromas in the first wines to be made. No green hints.
The wines have all the fruit and structure necessary to age well. It is up to the winemakers to continue the detailed craftsmen’s work that began in the vines so that the full complexity of this multi-facetted vintage may be expressed. These are wines with deep colour and packed with ripe fruit and spice. Depending on the estate, their delicate or firmer structures set off their elegant freshness on the palate and their long, subtle aromas. As they age, they require more fine crafting to enhance the many magnificent characteristics of the great Saint-Emilion-Pomerol-Fronsac terroirs.
2010 : Vintage holds its promise
2009 and 2010, like 1989 followed by 1990, will be known as a milestone pair of excellent vintages in the Saint-Emilion – Pomerol – Fronsac appellations.
Two important weather features exerted a profound influence in 2010:
– A rainfall deficit of more than 43% from the beginning of the year, identical to 2005, although distributed differently
– Daily temperature swings of around 14°C over the whole summer
The 2009-2010 winter was colder than the 30-year average and spring was relatively unstable and cool, which caused flowering to start quite late. Temperatures in July, August and September without being excessive were close to the seasonal average, which caused the initial colour change of the grapes heralding the onset of ripening (veraison) to take place quite slowly and at dates close to the average of the last five years.
These weather conditions which continued up to the harvest, caused the vines to stop growing early before the onset of grape ripening, resulting in a substantial build-up of sugar in the pulp and the accumulation of all the pigments in the grape skins. It also led to an unparalleled preservation of the aromas and acidity that are essential to the balance of great wines. Furthermore, the weather conditions were such that rot did not develop and as a result too of the vigilance of the winegrowers, the grapes picked were perfectly clean and disease-free, making harvest-time relatively serene.
Over the year, the winegrowers were skilled in adapting to these unusual conditions with a lot of hard work in the vines, making it possible to minimise their impact: cultivating grass between the rows, leaf removal and thinning out the fruit depending on the needs of each specific terroir, the age of the vines and the vigour of their growth.
POTENTIAL OF THE FRUIT
An ideal combination of all the factors led to a fantastic result:
• A la carte harvesting starting on 27 September in the early-ripening areas in good weather conditions
• The exceptional quality of the Merlot and Cabernet, very small grapes signalling a great vintage, and moderate yields with a lot of concentration
• High natural alcohol levels – around 13% by volume – in all localities with acidity levels that promised outstanding balance in the wines to come
• Thick grape skins that were very aromatic and rich in ripe phenol compounds; analysis of the fruit revealed unparalleled levels. Ripe, hazelnut-tasting pip tannins, which could lead us to expect balanced, silky wines
• Exceptional colour in the must with incredibly strong aromas of black and red fruit
The wines of this vintage are in the process of ageing. As they are tasted, the excellence of 2010 is brilliantly emphasized. They have highly complex aromatic profiles, displaying a cocktail of ripe red and black fruit, spices and violets. They impose on the palate with both strength and balance, they have body with tannins that are still firm, ripe and fleshy. Their delicate freshness throughout the tasting highlights their impressive aromatic length that features a mix of ripe fruit and spices. These are wines to be laid down with breeding and character that ageing will only enhance. They are the produce of the great terroirs of Saint-Emilion – Pomerol – Fronsac and a rare vintage. Watch this space, patiently.
2009 : The conditions allowing a sublime vintage for Fronsac and Canon Fronsac
After a winter longer and colder than the past thirty-year average and a humid beginning of spring, the end of spring was rather warm, allowing early flowering.
It is worth noting that the Fronsac and Canon Fronsac vineyard was fortunately not at all affected by the few hailstorms of May which damaged several other vineyards of the Bordeaux region.
After mild and humid July, hot and dry August contributed to homogeneous and fast ripening. Besides, in August the temperature differences between night and day (up to 15°C) preserved the grape skin’s great richness (colour, fruit).
Consequently, the year of 2009 was marked by:
– a number of days (more than 30) with temperatures over 30°C that was superior to 2000,
– a number of days with temperatures over 20°C that was comparable to 2005.
In terms of soils, the Fronsac and Canon Fronsac appellations are mainly composed of one starfish limestone plateau and slopes made of the Fronsac’s “molasse” whose clay-limestone composition allow deep digging in of the vines. These soils showed great reaction to this vintage’s characteristics and were not subjected to water-related stress.
September kept providing favourable climate conditions, enabling à la carte harvest:
– the merlots were picked up once perfect maturation had been reached,
– such weather kept being incredibly ideal until maturation of the cabernets francs, conferring the wine lingering aroma fragrances and a fresh tannic structure that remains in the mouth after swallowing,
– even the cabernet sauvignon, a late variety representing approximately 7% of the vineyard, was picked up at perfect maturation.
In fact, the process of maturation was slow, an ideal factor to allow the storage of pigments and aromas within the skin. The vine’s vegetative cycle was long, balanced and combined with the quality of both Fronsac and Canon Fronsac terroirs. It therefore allowed the complexity of aromas and flavours to be reflected in the grape berries and eventually, in the wine itself.
The vinifications included:
– small-sized grapes reflecting good concentration,
– thick and very aromatic skins, rich in firm phenolic compounds,
– high natural degrees (over 13°C vol),
– such degrees are counterbalanced by a fine balance of freshness related to the clay-limestone terroirs of Fronsac and Canon Fronsac,
– with rapes offering great aroma power of soft and black fruits.
This is why 2009 is a wonderful vintage for the Fronsac and Canon Fronsac appellations. It offers:
– an aromatic expression of rare complexity,
– with notes of crunchy fruits, black fruits like bilberry and blueberry as well as red fruits such as raspberry,
– combined with spicy notes tasted in the mouth,
– a perfect tannic structure and of great purity,
– however the smooth and elegant tannins are endowed with fine roundness,
– a perfect balance thanks to freshness that counterbalances the richness of this vintage wines,
– such overall quality is homogeneous in both appellations which fortunately were not affected by the hailstorms of May 2009.
Fronsac and Canon Fronsac can only pride themselves on presenting such wines of this vintage which will surely become one of the most exceptional vintages!
2008 : A late harvest featuring a magnificient Indian summer promosing superbly classical wines
SURPRISING WEATHER CONDITIONS
It would be necessary to go back as far as 1988, the year which is an indelible memory in the minds of all connoisseurs of great wine, to find such similarities in the weather patterns in terms of average temperatures, sunshine levels and rainfall, as well as reminiscent dates for the principal growth stages and harvest, and yield forecasts.
Weather conditions in 2008 were challenging right up to the end of August, with two meteorological “accidents” – frost on 7 April and hail on 28 July – which in fact only affected a small part of the appellations. However, the Saint-Emilion – Pomerol – Fronsac winegrowers carried out continuous, costly work in their vineyards, which was necessary to enable them to take full advantage of the exceptional weather that followed in September and October:
– 2008 was rather cool and dry with rainfall close to the 30-year average.
– Flowering was spread out from the end of May and there was a greater delay between the different growth stages.
– Vine growth was slow and ripening of the grapes was progressive, preserving their aromas, freshness and balance. Ripening varied according to vineyard situation, the condition of the vines and soil characteristics.
– Yields were naturally low.
– There was great variation between daytime and night temperatures, which encouraged anthocyan development.
– The harvest period stretched from 25 September to 25 October in exceptional conditions of dry weather with cool nights and warm days and plenty of sun and a little wind.
The Merlot variety, which represents more than 70% of the vines in Saint-Emilion – Pomerol – Fronsac, thanks to its natural propensity for early development, benefited widely from these weather conditions.
THE WINEGROWERS’ INVOLVEMENT AND EXPERTISE
For the 2008 vintage, the Saint-Emilion – Pomerol – Fronsac winegrowers concentrated their efforts in the vineyards with early leaf removal, green fruit elimination and many cleaning up operations, in order to improve fruit ripening and ensure that the grapes reached an optimal condition at harvest time. It turned out that all this hard work was well rewarded.
What characterised this year was the fact that the harvest was exceptionally spread out over time, starting on 25 September and lasting until the end of October (and even the beginning of November on some estates). The winegrowers picked their grapes “à la carte”, plot by plot, taking into account the different degrees of ripeness of the various varieties and terroirs.
Furthermore, their expertise and use of winemaking techniques that were extremely adapted to the specific conditions of the vintage, enabled them to get the best out of the very fine potential of these grapes.
A SUBTLE BALANCE BETWEEN FRUITINESS, FRESHNESS AND ELEGANCE OF THE TANNINS SPELLS GREAT ENJOYMENT
As is always the case in challenging years, the great Saint-Emilion – Pomerol – Fronsac terroirs were able to reveal the full complexity of this vintage.
When they were harvested in their relatively small quantities, the grapes were tasty, crisp, fruity and lively. The Merlot were of good size with thick skins that were full of tannins and colour, with similar potential to the 2006 and 2005 vintages. The Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon were harvested in the second half of October and clearly benefited from the long period of fine weather. They added their own quality and elegance to the fruity roundness of the Merlot.
The wines are now being aged and demonstrate this quality with the following characteristics:
– Very good alcohol content of between 12.5 % and 14 % by volume
– Marked acidity indicating that the developing wines have good balance
– Impressive colour, showing that the vine’s growth had been optimal during the summer
– Superbly powerful complex aromas of fresh red and black berries
– Tannins that appear to be elegant, round and mellowed
All the ingredients are there for these wines to become truly superb over the coming months. Their balance and powerful aromas will not fail to delight drinkers. In many ways this vintage is reminiscent of 1988, the wines of which, still today, are distinguished by their complexity.
2007 : Providential climatic conditions of September and October
EXCEPTIONAL CLIMATIC CONDITIONS
2007 experienced uneven climatic conditions until the end of August but the winemakers’ works on the vines allowed limiting their impacts. The Fronsac vineyards could then fully enjoy the providential climatic conditions of September and October.
The 2007 vintage is characterized by:
• a rather dry year, with pluviometry inferior to the average one in the past thirty years,
• a generally-mild climate (similar to the average of the past thirty years): 2007 was marked by very important differences between temperatures from one day to another between May and August, April being exceptionally warm (+3.5°C compared to the average of the past thirty years), actually the warmest since 1949,
• a harvesting period that lasted from September 15th to October 20th in exceptional conditions: September and October were dry and the sunniest since 60 years.
Such characteristics of the vintage, appeared in the key period of the vine development, marked the vegetative cycle of the vine with:
• early flowering, from mid-May onwards,
• ripening at the beginning of August,
• slow grape maturating process allowing the best expression of the aromas, freshness
• dry, sunny, chilly and slightly windy weather of September and October promoted grape maturating in excellent conditions. This is how grapes have gained in technological, phenolic and aromatic maturity.
The merlot variety (over 70% of the vineyard of Fronsac appellations) widely enjoyed such climatic conditions thanks to its natural precocity.
A SUBTLE BALANCE BETWEEN FRUIT, FRESHNESS AND TANNINS’ DELICACY
The great terroirs of Fronsac could reveal this vintage’s complexity with:
• standard natural degrees between 12 and 12.5% vol.,
• acidities showing the wines’ good balance,
• an amazing colour, symbol of the good vine development during summer,
• a superb aromatic complexity of fresh soft and black fruits,
• elegant, rounded and mellow tannins,
These wines enchant with the harmony between their fruity and intense character, smooth taste, delicate structure and lingering fragrances.
2006 : A wonderful aromatic richness
UNSUAL CLIMATIC CONDITIONS
2006, a year of unusual climatic conditions:
• 2006 was rather dry, with steady and well-distributed pluviometry in the course of the month, allowing the vines to well handle the heat.
• A generally-warm vintage (warmer than in 2005), with blistering months of June, July and September.
• A month of August that was the exception of such usual tendency, chillier, with a lot of wind that dried out the few rains and morning drew.
• An exceptionally warm beginning of September, followed by a more chilly and stormy period. These original characteristics of the vintage marked the vine’s vegetative cycle. In favour of the grapes’ future quality, leading to a very interesting result in the Fronsac vineyards with:
• a precocious and grouped flowering, already from the end of May onwards,
• an early pause in the vine’s growth before ripening, because of the heat during
July and of high minimum temperatures,
• an early ripening at the end of July.
The maturating process, first slow because of chillier weather in August, sped up thanks to exceptional climatic conditions in the first half of September. The merlot variety, (over 70% of the Fronsac vineyard), thanks to its natural precocity, had already reached a wonderful maturity when harvesting took place and could fully enjoy such climatic conditions.
THE WINEMAKERS’ DEDICATION AND KNOW-HOW
For the 2006 vintage, the Fronsac winemakers worked twice as hard in the vineyard (thinning, ligh leaf removal …) in order to improve the grape maturating process and lead them to harvest in the best conditions.
A WONDERFUL AROMATIC RICHNESS
The merlots picked up from September 20th onwards showed such qualities with:
• higher natural degrees, almost 13% vol.,
• acidities showing the wines’ good balance,
• an exceptional aromatic potential, feature of the merlot for this 2006 vintage,
• thick and very colourful skins (anthocyans), rich in phenols.
The cabernets francs and cabernets sauvignons harvested in October also added quality and lingering fragrances to the merlots’ aromatic complexity.
The 2006 vintage wines are characterized by their aromatic richness (cocktail of soft and black fruits) and their superb structure composed of ripe, mellow, elegant and balanced tannins. The delicate freshness of the aftertaste strengthens the lasting fruity sensation and reflects this vintage’s quality.
2005 : Exceptional vintage
AN EXCEPTIONAL CLIMATOLOGY: DROUGHT AND CHILLY NIGHTS
The climatology of this 2005 vintage offers all the great vintages’ characteristics.
Especially accompanying the vineyard development from end of winter to harvest (less than 50% of the usual precipitations from April to harvesting), drought promoted the expression of the wonderful Fronsac and Canon Fronsac terroirs.
DRY WINTER AND SPRING
The winter report presented temperatures inferior to the normal ones and a major water deficit (from 60% to 70% compared to average), this deficit being strengthened until harvesting. At the beginning of April, the precocious lots entered the bud break phase.
After the hot season of May, all the varieties started to flower before the end of May, with a date of half-flowering estimated around June 2nd and 4th. June’s temperatures were especially hot (+2.7°C compared to the average temperature of the past thirty years) and pluviometry almost nonexistent. Despite the lack of water, the vegetation progressed well.
OPTIMAL RIPENING AND MATURATING
July was rather hot (+0.7°C compared to average temperatures of the past thirty years) with a record of 36°C reached in July 14th. The first ripened berries (change of the berries’ colours) were noticed in mid-July in precocious areas, a dozen days earlier than in 2004. Because of drought, ripening was rather slow and the light rains of the last decade of July allowed an acceleration of the maturation process.
Average temperatures of August were similar to the normal ones, especially thanks to chilly night temperatures and still a clear pluviometric deficit (-17 mm to average.)
End of August, the lack of water was more important than the past few years – even more than the well-known driest vintages like 2000, 1998, 1995 or 1989.)
The high water constraint registered earlier that year suggested great qualitative potential of the grapes and confirmed that that vintage would be one of exception. Because of climatic conditions, agronomical yields were moderate and promised a good concentration in the grapes.
A LA CARTE HARVESTING
Just like the rest of the year, September was sunny and hot (+0.7°C compared to the average temperature of the past thirty years) and light saving precipitations at the end of August allowed to smoothly complete the grapes’ maturating process.
A la carte harvesting started around September 15th in the precocious areas, in exceptional climatic conditions and lasted until the first days of October.
GREAT LONG-KEEPING WINES
These wines, of an exceptional vintage, offer great aromatic complexity. Just like this vintage, they are powerful, surprising and attractive. Their very dark colour reflects a wonderful concentration. When smelling, the richness in soft and black fruits is wonderful and captivating. Although naturally condensed, these wines delight one’s palate thanks to their balance, freshness, lingering fragrances and unction.
2004 : A great classic vintage
The year of 2004 confirms that a good vintage’s quality does not come down to the very weather conditions of August; it is actually the result of the succession of several positive points.
A GROUPED AND HOMOGENEOUS FLOWERING
The vine bud breaking started in some areas during the first days of April. After an uneven month of May, alternating chilly and warmer periods (+2°C compared to the normal temperature), flowering started for the merlots in the last days of May in precocious areas. The lack of precipitations in June (-48 mm compared to the monthly average) combined with little temperature difference promoted fast flowering. It turned out to be explosive between June 4th and 10th (mid-flowering around June 7th), fixing the average harvesting date around September 24th.
IDEAL PERIOD FOR THE WINE’S SETTING
Flowering took place everywhere and for all the varieties without problem thanks to the dry and sunny weather of June.
June and July 2004 were dryer than the last four vintages, with only 55 mm accumulated over the two months of good hydric conditions of the soil as grape ripening approached.
HARMONIOUS BEGINNING OF MATURING AND EXCEPTIONAL SEPTEMBER
Ripening started in all vineyards at the beginning of August thanks to blistering temperatures. This vintage had the same precocious level than the 2000 and 2002 vintages (half-ripening of the merlot around August 7th – 8th.)
Uneven climatic conditions of August generated a rather slow maturing process of the grapes and the 2004 vintage promised to be rather late. An exceptional mild and dry September (-50 mm of rain compared to average) allowed the staggering of harvesting and preserved and strengthened the grapes’ fine balance.
The merlot harvesting started from September 23rd onwards as far as the most precocious ones are concerned. Winemakers enjoyed an exceptional month of September (warm and dry / chilly nights) that rewarded the huge amount of efforts made in the Fronsac vineyards since spring (leaf removal and multiple thinning.)
This staggering harvesting allowed picking some merlots with a wonderful balance between freshness and concentration.
MERLOTS OF VERY HIGH QUALITY
The merlots definitely enjoyed such exceptional conditions and offered, right from the beginning of harvesting, an amazing qualitative potential that has never been refuted afterwards: degrees above 13, a perfect sugars/acid balance, thick and ripe skins, very rich in anthocyans and in flexible and easily-removable tannins.
The cabernets reached an excellent level of the skins’ maturity. Their own great potential was added to the merlots’.
THE 2004 VINTAGE WINES: A GREAT CLASSIC
The wines confirm the very high quality level reached by the merlots, already likely to seduce thanks to their intense colour, great aromatic complexity, freshness and superb tannin balance.
They amaze by their complex and intense fruity nature, their charming freshness, their generosity, their substantial consistence and distinguishness. The tannins are powerful and of a great delicacy. With strong persistence in the mouth, these wines have all the qualities of a vintage: they are generous balanced and promising.