A cold spring, with a May that hardly existed – there was frost on May 7th, which required us to spend the night lighting over 9,000 candles in our lowest vineyards to prevent damage during flowering. This was followed by a prolonged period of cold that delayed flowering, especially for the early-ripening semillon and merlot. Spare bunches, small berries, thick skins.

Most of August, it was so hot that the plants shut down – they were already tired given the bumper crop of the previous year. This was followed by another drop in temperature at the end of the month, which paralyzed the maturation of all of the vines, especially the late-ripening cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot. 2019 was the latest ripening vintage we’ve seen in ten years. We began the 14th of September with the semillon, which was brought in over 2-3 pickings, and the first bit of merlot from the hillsides, with the heart of the fruit coming in around the 10th. The waiting period between the merlot and cabernet franc this year was very short, with the franc mostly in by the 18th. Even with a rainy and cool start of October, we were impressed by the quality and quantity: 5 or 6 excellent parcels of merlot, the same for the franc, due to the smaller and tighter bunches with fewer berries, but more left on the vines this vintage.

The cabernet sauvignon and petit verdot instead found a warmer than usual fall – we were in short sleeves until the last week of October – and the grapes were brought in on the 23rd and 24th. The cold temperatures of May and again at the end of August had a profound effect on the wines, leaving a trace of freshness despite the steady heat of the summer and fall. The wines for now are less dense than usual, given the stress of the plants in maturing; we wait now for them to come into their own in the barrel.

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Vini Franchetti