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CA Grand Crus hails 2017 Bordeaux vintage one of the most challenging to date

Published:  07 December, 2017

The 2017 vintage in Bordeaux has been hailed as one of the most challenging in the region's history as extensive frost damage in April dramatically reduced yields in key appellations.

Thierry Budin, MD of the CA Grand Crus portfolio, said that the right bank had been most severely affected, forcing the group to abandon the 2017 vintage at Clos Saint-Vincent in St-Emilion.

“It has been a challenging six months watching the vines develop post the April frosts,” Budin told Harpers.

“In order to keep up top quality we’ve had a number of contingency plans in place to ensure we could bring in sufficient grape quantities to achieve sufficient production levels,” he said.

However, Budin added that yields at several properties within the portfolio, including Chateau Meyney and Grand-Puy Ducasse were “encouraging,” and that the fruit quality was “excellent.”

In addition, CA Grand Cru's senior winemaker, Anne Le Naour, said the group had been experimenting wth conversion to organic viticulture, but held reservations about its future in the Medoc.

“We've trialled organic methods in approximately 10-15% of our vineyards across the portfolio, with the resulting yield not being dramatically affected,” said Le Naour.

“However, I'm not sure this is the right approach for us, or indeed Bordeaux as a whole. Remember organic still allows the use of pesticide sprays for example, they just cannot be man-made.”

“I think its importance is sometimes overstated – we'd prefer to adopt an overall sustainable approach, rather than strictly organic,” she added.

Speaking about the future of the region, Budin also voiced his concerns about the current Negociant system.

“This is a historic system with obvious advantages that appeal to many Chateaux,” said Budin.

“However, the downside is, of course, a loss of traceability – I have no idea where my wine is ending up. That loss of direct relationship with the consumer is regrettable I think.”

Budin, who hails from Epernay, added that he believed Bordeaux lacked “an equivalent of LVMH”, and that such an organisation would be of “tremendous benefit” to the region.

“LVMH has contributed so much to the development of Champagne, Bordeaux needs its own version of the conglomerate to set standards and drive innovation,” said Budin.