An exceptionally dry winter, the most water deficient since 2000, did not give full water recharge of the loamiest soils. After an exceptionally dry summer in 2016, it was not until February 2017 that the first significant rainfall was recorded.
A particularly mild late winter provoked early budburst, which was regular and balanced.
The nights of April 27th and 28th were marked by the most severe frosts since 1991, causing particularly extensive damage to a large section of the Gironde vineyard, but with no impact on Château Patache d’Aux, due to the nearby Atlantic Ocean and Gironde estuary, ensuring lower temperature variation.
A summery spring reinforced the early character of the vintage, with rapid, balanced flowering, comparable to 2005, and excellent fruit set. Water constraints began early, especially on clay soils, suggesting that berry size would be limited and skins thick. Cluster closure came almost 3 weeks early.
A dry, spring-like summer: Rather cool temperatures preserved aromatic potential and acid, especially malic acid, with high thermal amplitudes at time of ripening: ripening was fast and homogeneous, combining sugar accumulation and anthocyanin synthesis. Low rainfall maintained high levels of water stress throughout the ripening period, promoting thickening of skins and limited extractability and fragility.
Heavy rainfall at the beginning of September in northern Bordeaux completely changed the profile of the vintage, provoking acceleration in the evolution of skins, towards phenolic maturity synonymous with aromatic and technological maturity. Conditions at the end of ripening, potentially favourable for botrytis development, significantly accelerated the onset of harvesting: optimal on early gravelly sectors and accelerated on later sectors, with heterogeneous levels of ripeness on our deepest clays.
Even before it began, 2017 was already feared to be another dreaded “7” vintage… a series observed for the last 40 years!
Patache d’Aux usually produces dense and very powerful wines that require some patience before tasting paired with fine food: the 2017 vintage has a young, very open character, with structure which could be described as light for Patache d’Aux, but which will certainly bring early drinkability.
From the vine to the glass
The earliest Merlot plots on gravel reached optimal maturity, while maintaining sound acidity. The most thorough extractions were carried out here, by cap punching and pumping over, since the tannic structure of the grapes permitted significant extraction.
When picked, Merlot and Cabernet vines on limestone and clay, showed heterogeneous maturity, depending on the sector. Much gentler extraction was used here, with cap punching and pumping over only at the beginning of fermentation, to limit extraction of slightly green tannins during the alcoholic phase.
Maceration phases were quite long (4 weeks) on riper vats and quite short on later vats (2 to 3 weeks).
All Château Patache d’Aux wines were matured in French oak barrels: 1/3 in new barrels, 1/3 in one-wine barrels and 1/3 in two-wine barrels. Cooperage styles were selected to reveal fresh fruit and to structure the wine in length and depth, as the tannic structure lacked strength at the start of maturing. It was very important to maintain freshness without trying to coat the wine: indeed, Patache d’Aux 2017 presents fine tension with a potentially slightly strict character…
“Château Patache d’Aux 2017. Good deep colour and nice spicy fruit, quite open, still lacks a little class. “
Steven Spurrier’s tasting notes, Wine critic.