2018 was more of a long-distance race than a sprint. We clearly experienced two wildly contrasting periods, alternating abundant rainfall and milder than average temperatures from February to June, with intensely hot and dry weather in summer. Initially giving rise to great cause for concern given high levels of disease pressure in the vineyard in spring, we were able to breathe a sigh of relief once more before the harvest. Ideal summer weather in August continued during the first two weeks of September, with scarce rainfall and cool nights alternating with hot days. With mildew finally under control, ripening quickly took hold after veraison, with pigment compounds and aromas becoming more concentrated in the grapes. All the conditions came together to make the harvests free from stress and the pressure of time.
The white grapes took full advantage of the superb conditions during the first two weeks of September. We even waited until the 18th September for the last micro-parcel of Semillon to reach optimum ripeness, which is unheard of : the very next day we cut the first bunches of young Merlot. The red harvest continued without incident until 10th October, with the most late-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon.
The first tastings, before transfer to barrel, unveiled fleshy, silky-textured wines and lovely balance. It looks like a great vintage at Château Rahoul.