By Brinda Bourhis
A few days ago I was at Château Phelan Segur, St Estèphe and the harvests were in full swing.
Around 150 harvesters have been taken on to pick the grapes on this 68 hectare property, in the heart of Saint Estèphe and where the quest for quality has been a priority for Veronique Dausse, the estate’s Managing Director.
The owners are the Gardinier Family Group, who also own the outstanding restaurants Taillevent in Paris - 2 Michelin stars- and the Relais & Châteaux Les Crayères in Reims - 2 Michelin stars.
Following the example of perfectionism developed by this family in the fields of hotels and restaurants, nothing is left to chance in the running of Château Phélan Ségur.
During my visit, the optical sorting machine was in action, selecting with great precision only perfect berries. “We brought in the optical sorter for the 2011 vintage, and for a couple of years used it as a trial, today we have decided to purchase the machine as we are totally satisfied by the results” commented Veronique Dausse.
For Luc Peyronnet, the Vineyard Manager, his first vintage at Phelan Segur was 1993. Since that date, major improvements have been made in the vineyard management including a mapping of the vines through the technique called Greenseeker. By a GPS, it calculates the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). It gives a measurement of the physiological activity of the plants. The map obtained from these measurements illustrates the development of the vineyard in real time and is a precious tool in aiding decision making: it allows a reliable estimate of the plants’ nutritional requirements; to control the development of their vigour all through the year.
Speaking on this year’s vintage, Luc Peyronnet said that the main characteristics will be : a powerful, classic Bordeaux with good tannic structure and a wine with good ageing potential. “But it is too soon to really have an idea of what the final wine will turn out to become, we are still at the early stages, there are still the fermentations and maturing processes to go through…only time will tell”.
The harvests at Château Phelan Segur should finish by October 15th.