This vintage's remarkably late harvest was due to the difficult weather conditions that disturbed the vine's life cycle: 2008 was a trying year for vine growers.
After a mild and dry late winter season, budburst was delayed by a cold spell that set in from mid-March to late April.
A very rainy month of May ended with a hail storm that hit the south of the Médoc, including a few Château Palmer plots, which added to the stress that the vine was undergoing. Flowering took place in June under particularly unfavorable conditions of cool, rainy weather, which caused widespread coulure, especially on the old Merlot vines.
The mildew pressure was constant this year. We thought that we had hit a peak in this regard in 2007, but 2008 showed us that things could get even worse!
The weather in July plays an essential role in the synthesis of phenolic compounds and it was a beautiful month, for the most part. Summer started off nicely from the very beginning, with a long period of relatively dry, beautiful weather lasting from June 20 to August 10. The less favorable period that followed and lasted until September 14 made us forget those weeks to a certain extent, all the more so because we had to fight off diseases. But it's important to have beautiful weather in July and we did!
The cold, wet conditions in August and early September gave way suddenly and unexpectedly to a very sunny dry spell, as a northern wind set in from September 14 on, drying out the pockets of botrytis that were beginning to worry us.
We were able to wait for the late maturities to complement each other, with no major sanitary concerns. The nights were cool. This lent itself to a gentle, harmonious maturation, which brings out in turn a very elegant aromatic expressiveness. A miracle as only nature knows how to produce them!
In the vineyard, the laterals were systematically cut to allow the air to circulate through the leaf canopy and optimize the concentration in the berries.
The widespread coulure made it unnecessary to thin out the leaves, except selectively, here and there. On the other hand, we decided to eliminate all of the verjuice grapes (secondary grapes) in early September to improve berry maturation conditions.
This vintage had come a long way! After hitting rock bottom early September, optimism came back as the harvest was brought in in mid-October. The Merlots displayed unexpectedly high levels of concentration, with degrees between 13.5° and 14.5°. The sugar content of the Cabernets sauvignon
grapes hovered as usual around 12° and 12.5°. But there again we found a nice concentration of phenolic compounds and perfectly ripe tannins. They are velvety and display beautiful volume on the palate.
The wines were put into barrel very early, by mid-November.
The prolonged work of tasting and evaluation of batches for the final blends confirmed the potential of the wines. Showing a lot of depth and a remarkable finesse, they are a beautiful expression of the terroir of Château Palmer in this ressusciated vintage!
Total rainfall April to September (in mm):
The harvests at Château Palmer
Harvest dates: 1st October to 17th October
The late harvests began on October 1 for the earliest ripening Merlots.
Harvesting began on October 13 for Cabernet Sauvignon and October 9 for Petit Verdot.
2008 yields were 30 hls/ha.
Cabernet Sauvignon: 41%
Petit Verdot: 8%
Cabernet Sauvignon: 48%