At Chateau La Garde, we were relieved to have suffered minimal damage following the April frosts. Despite our initial concerns, the year progressed normally in favourable conditions: early, rapid and even budbreak, flowering and ripening, promoting the development of phenolic compounds.
The Sauvignon Blanc, already very aromatic at the beginning of August, has benefitted from a summer of cool nights and warm, as opposed to hot, daytime temperatures. Seeking to preserve natural acidity and aromatic quality, we picked the white grapes early in the morning, to take advantage of cool temperatures. Picking started on 29th August, a few days earlier than the norm. The wines confirm our first impressions: they are fresh and aromatic with a lovely citrus fruit character.
We started harvesting the Merlot grapes on 13th September, nearly three weeks early. We are delighted with the remarkable quality of the later-ripening Merlot, grown on clay or chalky-clay: they are deeply coloured, dense wines with forest fruit aromas and smoky, lightly toasted notes. The Cabernet Sauvignons and Petits Verdots grown on deep gravel have benefitted from a long maturation period lasting nearly two months, from the first signs of veraison at the beginning of August. Picked at optimum ripeness at the end of September, they have benefitted from good weather during the last two weeks to develop elegance and intensity. They have produced rich, deeply coloured wines with velvety tannins. After the uncertainties of spring, this 2017 vintage has proved to be very appealing indeed.