On the steep vineyard slopes here at Château de Ricaud, sustainable grass planting and temporary cover plantings help prevent surface run-off, erosion and soil compaction and promote good water drainage in the soils. Yet despite this, the heavy rainfall during the first months of the year made work in the vineyard complicated on the clay soils. Disease pressure remained significant until July on certain parcels, where hydric reserves remained very high. Given the evaporation triggered by high temperatures, humidity levels reached record highs. In contrast, parcels of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot, cultivated on well-drained, fine gravel soils, together with the older vines, resisted well. Amid kinder summer weather, veraison and ripening went like clockwork.

Interventions were tailored accordingly to protect the vineyard, and bringing the mildew under control. Our only regret was some early damage to grapes in young, vigorous parcels, which were removed before harvesting. The grapes were also sorted on arrival at the winery, and only whole, intact grapes entered the tanks.

The red wines are now ageing in barrique. They are superb, dense and concentrated, and reveal appealing aromatic complexity.