Climate changes already visible in 2022 were confirmed in 2023 with erratic rainfall, heatwaves, and a general increase in annual temperatures. Grape varieties most susceptible to mildew, such as Merlot, struggled to resist its attacks, while Cabernet proved more resilient.
Winter was marked by mild temperatures one degree higher than average and a significant 37% decrease in water compared to the previous year, with only 4 days of negative temperatures, reaching just 0.1°C in February. Bud break began during the first week of April with temperatures 1.2°C above average, associated with a pre-epidemic risk of mildew contamination. The first grape clusters were abundant, and we removed the secondary buds.
The early flowering occurred from May 21 until the end of the month. We performed leaf thinning at the cluster level. June was punctuated by violent and frequent rains, washing away treatments and forcing us to reapply almost every three days to maintain preventive vine protection. Nevertheless, mildew attacked the Merlot plots, particularly on the clusters and not the leaves.
The risk of mildew persisted throughout June and July, accompanied by significant rainfall and temperature drops compared to the seasonal norm. Veraison began around July 15, concluding by the end of the month.
Harvesting took place from September 21 under sunny conditions.
The harvest is less abundant for Merlot than for Cabernet, but both varieties are of high quality, with wines exhibiting aromas of hazelnuts, prunes, and very jammy cherries
The 2022 vintage is that of great change: devastating frost and hail for certain Bordeaux vineyards, followed by several periods of heat waves at over 42° and violent storms of water during the summer.
If Château Fougas was not affected by hail or frost, we adapted to the heat wave as well as torrential rains as the seasons progressed, and obtained as a result a harvest of exceptional quality.
The winter was characterized by a mild temperature above average and a significant water deficit. Bud burst began during the first week of April, allowing the first bunches to appear in abundance. Our disbudding this year was limited to the removal of counter buds.
The flower, early, took place from May 17 to 24. We carried out a light stripping of the leaves, on the east side, at the level of the bunches before they closed around June 15, thinking that the leaves could protect the bunches in the event of a heat wave. As the soils dried out quickly, we worked them in anticipation of heavy rains. In this way, future water abatement was able to penetrate the earth instead of eradicating the humic clay layer necessary for the life of the soil.
Around July 15, the first bunches began their veraison 15 days ahead of the average for the previous 10 years. Veraison was quick and homogeneous, and ended at the end of July. At the end of this month and throughout the month of August we suffered heat waves over 42° as well as violent and brief downpours of over 10 mm of rain. The latter have in no way altered the vine, neither in terms of the ever-green foliage nor in terms of the very healthy bunches. Throughout this cycle, biodynamic treatments have allowed us to maintain good photosynthesis and good absorption of rain by the root system.
The early harvest took place from September 16 under the sun…. 15 days in advance!
The harvest was abundant, qualitative and very aromatic, suggesting exceptional wines!
The 2022 will be a magnificent vintage that will absolutely have to be filled in the cellars.
The 2021 vintage has been characterised by an atypical climate: a warm winter causing an early budding followed by two frosty days in early April, then followed by heavy rains, almost daily in the spring and in early summer, with a moisture content reaching over 90%. It took a lot of thinking and reactivity to adapt to this weather. It was necessary to protect the vineyard from the erosion risk of clay-humus complex, which is essential to the life of our sol, while supporting a healthy growth of the new vintage.
The Budburst :
The buds of the merlot began to burst in late March, just before the April freezing.
The harvest has been spared thanks to our biodynamics treatments which had decreased the growth of buds.
From early spring to May, a rainy and cold period slowed the growth of the branches.
The flowers have arisen from May 6th to June 2nd. We decided to thin out the leaves at the height of the grapes just before their closure, around June 23rd.
It took place at Fougas on July 25th, in the midst of the drought. It was quite slow but steady and homogeneous. The veraison ended around the August 6th.
The rest of the summer took place with a moderate temperature relative to the season. There were some frequent light rains, but with no downpour.
The Harvest :
September could be characterised as an Indian summer so much it was mild and dry.
The harvest took place under the sun, from September 25th to October 8th.
The Wines :
The harvest is scanty but good. The wines have much fruit: the merlot has a nose of red berries, raspberries mingled with morello cherries, the cabernet has a long finish and a smoked nose which is characteristic of its good ripeness.
2020 vintage was characterized by a hot climate all year round, with an atypical pluviometry: Very humid in autumn (2019) and spring (2020) but exceptionally dry during summer. Biodynamics and a reflection on new adapted cultivation practices have enabled us to maintain a healthy state of the vineyard while maintaining the quality and the advance of maturity.
The particularly hot winter induced an early budding, 15 days ahead of the average. During the month of April, heat and humidity favored active growth, leaving the vines to maintain their lead. We sprayed a horsetail tea to prevent the vineyard from mildew.
The equally hot and humid spring resulted in a particularly early flowering 12 days early, placing 2020 among the earliest vintages as 2003 and 2011.
Mechanical inter-row work preserved the clay-humic layer and avoided erosion phenomena by allowing violent and successive offal of water to be directly assimilated by the soil.
We removed the leaves from the bunches on the east side, keeping the others on the west to protect the grapes from wilting by desiccation.
Started in Fougas on July 13, in the midst of a period of drought. It was quite slow but very regular and homogeneous, with a mid-veraison around July 18th, which is 12 days ahead of the average. Thanks to our new cultural practices, the vines have never suffered from drought.
From veraison and throughout August, the climate was characterized by particularly hot days and nights, and a low thermal amplitude between day and night.
The beginning of the month was marked by a week of heatwave. Biodynamics has helped us keep the soil cool thanks to regular spraying of horn dung
At harvest time, the berries had thick, aromatic skins and crunchy pips with nutty flavors. The state of health was perfect. The harvest took place under the sun on September 14 and 15 for the Merlot and September 28 and 29 for the Cabernet.
The vats harvested quickly fermented releasing a very beautiful material: Intense colors, aromas of black fruits, roundness, suppleness and tannic richness, foreshadowing a magnificent vintage 2020.
The Bud burst :
After a winter marked by a few below-average cold spells, February was characterized by an unusual mildness, particularly in its second half of the year. This sweetness continued in March, encouraging early and qualitative budburst. Then cool spring temperatures slowed down the growth of the vines, allowing spring green work (first and second tying up, thinning out the leaves on the bunches).
The flowering which took place from May 24th on the Merlot and June 1st on the Cabernet, accompanied by a fairly mild and dry weather, followed by a very homogeneous setting during the first and second week of June.
The months of June and July were characterized by very strong episodes of heat reaching more than 40 °, and punctuated by brief water offal. The healthy rainfall on July 26 and 27 accelerated the veraison and maintained the phenological homogeneity at the beginning of the season. Mid-ripening was reached between August 4 and 5 on both Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, and ended quickly. During August, the leaves stopped growing and the grapes became full of tannins. Biodynamics has allowed us to keep the soil fresh with horn dung sprays.
The climatic conditions at the flowering, setting and veraison stages were very favourable to the early development of the aromatic palette of the grapes and to a particularly high anthocyanin loading.
The harvest began on September 21 on Merlot and October 1 on Cabernet.
The abundant harvest is exceptionally qualitative with complex and refined flavours. The wines have a good length on the palate and a lot of fruit. A fine 2019 vintage
The Bud burst:
After a winter and a beginning of spring marked by strong bad weather (Episodes of violent rains and frequent storms), the bud burst of the vine began around April 10th. From the 26th of this month the first bunches were visible with a nice exit.
The blooming that took place over a short week from May 23rd. During this period a slight hail hit May 26 on Fougas, causing no damage to the bunches but eventually requiring a significant manual cutting because the apices of the branches had been chopped, leaving the vine grow in width rather than in height. We also did just after this episode several biodynamic treatments based on horsetail tea to prevent any attack of mildew
The months of June and July were characterized by very high heat reaching more than 30 °, and marked occasionally by brief water offal of extreme violence, while the month of August, scorching, was dry without no rain. By August 7, the vine was mid-veraison. During this month, the leaves stopped growing and the grapes were loaded with tannins. The biodynamics allowed us to maintain the freshness of the soil thanks to sprays of horn dung.
The harvest took place from 22 September on the merlot, and the following weekend on the cabernet. The skins of the grapes were thick and tasty, but the juice was not very important because of the drought of summer and September.
The scarce harvest is exceptionally qualitative with complex and refined flavors. The wines are now in barrels with a good length in the mouth and a lot of fruit. This year, we innovated and some of the wine is aging in amphora ...
After a long period of rain in the spring, an episode of heat wave this summer for more than four months without a drop of rain, vine asked for 2016 sustained and redoubled entire growth careful...
The Bud burst :
After a mild winter and little rain, almost Mediterranean, the instability of the sky was installed from March throughout the spring with an unusual freshness. Bud, late, started in the first half of April in the rain.
The Flowering :
After frequent rain events, flowering came under sun and a favorable heat of 20°C for a week from May 28.
With already eight days late compared to the previous year, well-fertilized flowers produced pretty long and abundant clusters.
The rest of the spring was very wet, requiring special attention to prevent all diseases.
The Veraison :
At 14/08/16, the grapes were veraison mid with a delay of fifteen days on annual averages. “Veraison” was very smooth promising a harvest of exceptional regular maturity.
The heat wave moved from July and throughout the month of August without any rain event.
Fearing the blocking of maturity by drought we plowed the soil during that month in accordance with the old peasant saying: "A plowing worth two watering," which ensured perfect water regulation. Thus the vine has not suffered from the heat or lack of water. We accompanied the work of several treatments of biodynamics.
The Harvest :
September was unusually sunny and about in the summer heat, favoring a perfect late maturation and very homogeneous. The harvest took place from 1 to 8 October in the sun...
The Wines :
The wines have rich fruit, freshness, color and tannin. They are full, dense, fine and velvety. All is harmonious. The 2016 vintage is already beautiful !!
The Bud burst:
To facilitate bud burst, we treated the vines with two successive lots of horn manure in February. After a normal winter when rainfall was sufficient to replenish water supplies in the soil, cool weather in March delayed bud burst in the vineyard, thereby averting the risk of spring frost. Bud burst began in the first week of April, followed by a very mild spell when the buds were able to bloom with great phenolic consistency.
The Flowering :
At Château Fougas, this began towards May 27 with the Merlot and finished consistently towards June 6. We controlled flowering using a biodynamic spray of silica on the leaves along with nettle tea.
The Veraison :
The heat wave at the end of June, when the berries had yet to change color, did not cause any scorching on the fruit. Quite the opposite in fact – the fruit had to cope with water stress that was conducive to a thickening of the skins and higher tannin content. Several biodynamic treatments helped improve the quality of the berries during this period. Subsequently, rainfall and high humidity levels throughout July promoted the start of ripering on July 22. This then ended rapidly around August 7 for the Merlot and August 12 for the later-veraison Cabernet-Sauvignon.
The Harvest :
Harvesting began early with the Merlot on September 18 and later for the Cabernet Franc and Cabernet-Sauvignon.
The Wines :
The wines display beautiful natural acidity. They are deeply colored, highly aromatic and contain exceptional tannin content.
It is often said that vintages with a “5” are legendary in Bordeaux and that is certainly the case for our 2015s which will be magnificent!!