October 2019 – It’s a crucial period of the year in Bordeaux, with harvest season already in full swing at Château Palmer for more than two weeks. The grapes that have reached full maturity are being carefully harvested from parcel to parcel. The freshly picked bunches are carried to the sorting table where a team attends to the removal of leaves and damaged berries. In the estate’s vat room, the tanks are filled methodically so that each will contain only a single lot of grapes from a specific parcel.
Next comes the tasting of the juice, which takes place every morning in the tasting area of the vat room. Thomas, the director of the estate, Sabrina, the technical director, Olivier, the cellar master, and Hervé, who runs the analysis laboratory, all come together to taste each of the lots and to lay down the programme of tasks, like remontage or pumping over the must, for the following day.
At this stage, certain musts still have sugars remaining, while others, notably from the first parcels harvested, have finished their alcoholic fermentation. The tasters concentrate on their texture, their tannic structure, and their acidity, to guide them in setting the rhythm and volume of pump-overs for all the vats.
This morning tasting is a decisive moment, when choices made in managing a vinification will contribute to shape the new vintage. It’s an exercise which requires an acute knowledge of Château Palmer’s vineyards, to be able to make decisions that will allow this 2019 vintage to fully express all the richness, nuance, complexity, and beauty of our terroir.