29th september 2017
2017 Harvest in video
For Jean-Christophe Mau, Manager of Château Brown in Pessac-Léognan, the 2017 harvest is above all characterised by the extreme precision it required. Château Brown, like many other vineyards, was impacted by the spring frost, which led to considerable heterogeneity in the vineyard’s grapes. ‘This frost implied the harvest would be half that of a ‘normal’ year and led to very technical harvesting and vinification’ Jean-Christophe Mau explains. The frozen vines are dispersed across the entire vineyard, and in the space of a few metres, in the same row, there were grapes that reached optimum ripening (first generation) and other smaller, less ripe ones that grew after the frost. Like every year, the grapes were picked manually at Château Brown and the harvesters were trained in advance for this unconventional harvest.
This harvest was also unusual as it was particularly early. The mild and sunny spring led to a very rapid flowering and veraison, followed by the early ripening of the grapes. A relatively dry but cool summer produced good acidity. ‘2003 is the benchmark year in terms of earliness. I have never seen Cabernet Sauvignon in Château Brown finish veraison in late July and be fully harvested by the end of September’ Jean-Christophe Mau declares.
The white Sauvignon and Semillon were harvested at the beginning of September and are now completing alcoholic fermentation in barrels. The white varieties were the most affected by the frost, but despite a small harvest, the quality is there: the juice has good aromatic density and plenty of flavour. Certain plots were harvested in phases to allow for greater ripeness and higher volumes.
Harvesting of the red grapes began after the very wet weekend of 17 September. Despite the threat of botrytis, the merlot was finally harvested in good health and at the right degree of ripeness (13°) and will produce supple and very fruity wines. Water arrived late in the ripening cycle and had only a slight impact on the dilution of juices, which can be easily corrected by running-off in the vat.
As for the second-generation Merlot (which grew after the frost), it will be used exclusively to produce rosé wine, which will be a 100% Merlot vintage. These grapes are a little less ripe with good acidity which will bring freshness and ‘crispy’ fruit to the Château Brown Rosé 2017!
The Cabernet Sauvignon was harvested in the last week of September in good health and with high acidity. It was less affected by the frost, which will result in a great wine this year with about 70% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Although it is difficult to confirm yet, Jean-Christophe Mau believes the quality of the 2017 vintage will be comparable to that of 2012. He will now devote particular attention to these micro-vinifications to produce a quality vintage in keeping with his work since his arrival in the estate at the end of 2004.