Petit Cantenac 2018

This wine shows a medium dark red in colour and is marked by its’ beautiful and intense Cabernet character, with fresh and lush rich notes of black plums and rich notes of black figs, raspberries, figs and fine leather, with hints of ginger and spice and soft vanillary new oak.

On the palate it is full bodied with firm but carefully weighted tannins on the entry, which become more defined as the wine lingers in the mouth, with dense savoury and earthy characters leading towards a supple, blackberry and plum finish that displays good restraint and poise.

It is a delicious and pleasing wine with a firm satisfying freshness, quite forward in style, but with fine soft tannins and an easy aromatic evolution that spreads neatly right across the palate. It will drink well after only 2 or 3 years, but will also continue to develop nicely in the bottle.

Drink 2020 to 2028.

Vineyard: 5.0 hectares overall vineyard

Grape variety: 90% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon

Harvest: 100% by hand on 21st & 27th September and 3rd & 11th October.

Winemaking: Cold maceration (7-8°C) to develop fruit aromas. Alcoholic fermentation (25°C) for 6 days with regular pumping over. Post fermentation maceration (28/29°C) for 15/20 days due to exceptional fruit quality. Malo-lactic fermentation in stainless steel and oak barrels.

Ageing: Aged in 40% New French Oak & 60% 2nd & 3rd year barrels for 12 months.

Alcohol by volume: 13.5%vol

Residual sugar: < 2 g/l

Production: 12,000 bottles

2018 will be remembered as an exceptional year in Bordeaux with a glorious summer that extended long into harvest. However, the year begun with many challenges and was initially characterised by a wet winter followed by a seriously cold and damp spring with the threat of mildew from spring onwards the strongest for decades.

During this period there were also localised hailstorms in May and July, but the flowering in May and June was largely successful and was followed by good weather with just enough rain in early July to sustain the vines through even the hottest spells.

However, in stark contrast to the rain that fell from March to June, compared to July, August and September was the amount of rain prior to April. March was very wet, but February was close to average. Then in December and January we experienced almost double the normal rainfall and so going into the growing season there was no shortage of water underfoot.

Another factor was the mild end to 2017 and early 2018, which was followed by a cold period in February that provided an important winter break for the vines and March was also a degree colder than usual. However it was not just the wet spring that was a problem but also a very rainy December to March with temperatures fluctuating that led to a serious threat of mildew and severe risk of contamination from mid April onwards. Many organic/biodynamic vineyards were hit badly at this time and even those conventionally farmed vineyards that missed vital treatments also suffered considerable losses. A day or two late in many cases proved expensive as about a third of Bordeaux was impacted by mildew to a greater or lesser extent.

The flowering in late May/June went well and the weather picked up from mid-June and after the rain over month end, the sun shone brightly from 4th July though to September. That period was also considerably warmer than usual and with 5 consecutive days at over 35ºC which was just too much for some young vines. In fact from 14 July to 15 August we had the second hottest ‘high season’ on record since 1947 and only surpassed by the scorching summer of 2003.

I cannot recall such a uniformly warm and sunny summer and stress free harvest in Bordeaux since I first arrived almost 20 years ago and so with such favourable conditions it was little wonder that the harvest kicked off early. We started with the rosé harvest on 4th September and then waited to complete it with one more day on 11th September and then moved on to the reds. There was of course the small exception of 5th and 6th September when we had 34mm of rain, but it was actually a blessed refresher prior to the red harvest which commenced with the Merlot on 18th September and finished with the Cabernets on 11th October with the fruit coming surprisingly clean.

In conclusion 2018 was an unusual vintage with extraordinary amounts of winter rain followed by a humid early growing season and an exceptionally long, hot, dry summer, which finally produced perfect harvest conditions. The potential for greatness is now clear, although achieving the correct balance was also key to success but the late cold spell in early spring and continued cool nights made up for the mild winter and provided the acidity and structure needed to accommodate the intense fruit and alcohol. Ultimately, the result of an individual Estates success will be defined by the timing and delivery of their vineyard management decisions and the winemaking techniques applied.

The focus is on the red cherry and raspberry fruits, with touches of smoked cedar and some lovely rose petal aromatics.”

Jane Anson – Decanter Magazine