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  • Jancis Robinson
Written by
  • Jancis Robinson
31 Oct 2006

See also A more realistic report on 2006 from Ch Palmer.

The St-Emilion, Pomerol and Fronsac Syndicats send the following report, making the best of what they call 'the whims of Nature' this year:


2005 has been a year of surprises, a year that will stay in our minds as being somewhat out of the ordinary in terms of weather conditions:


2006 has been a rather dry year, with regular and evenly spread rainfall

throughout the months, which has helped the vines to withstand the heat.


Overall, the vintage has been hot (hotter than 2005) with a heatwave in

the months of June, July and September.


August was the exception to the general trend by being cooler, with a

dominant wind that dried up any rainfall and morning dew.


Early September was exceptionally hot and was followed by cooler and stormy conditions.


These quirks of nature occurred at key points during the vines' development and in a most positive way have greatly influenced the quality of the grapes. In this  way, these atypical conditions have proved beneficial to the future quality of the grapes and have culminated in very interesting results for the Saint-Emilion – Pomerol – Fronsac winegrowing areas with:


Early and grouped flowering at the end of May.


A halt in the vine's early development before onset of ripening due to the

heatwave in July and to high minimum temperatures.


Early onset of ripening at the end of July.


Grape maturation was slow at first due to August's cooler weather conditions, but later speeded up thanks to the exceptional climatic conditions during the first half of September.


The Merlot variety (which represents over 70% of the Saint-Emilion-Pomerol- Fronsac appellations), naturally matures early and already showed remarkable ripeness at harvesting time having reaped all the benefits from these climatic conditions.


For the 2006 vintage, the wine growers of Saint-Emilion–Pomerol-Fronsac have considerably intensified their work in the vineyards (thinning out, careful deleafing, etc) to improve the ripeness of the grapes and take them up to harvesting in optimal conditions. It would seem that their efforts have earned a just reward.


The mid-September rainfall may have initially disrupted the wine growers'

harvesting schedule but, in the end, picking mostly took place in sunny



In addition, their know-how and the implementation of wine-making techniques perfectly adapted to the vintage's conditions have enabled them to bring out the very best of the great potential these grapes have to offer.


As is often the case in years of contrasted weather conditions, the great terroirs of Saint-Emilion–Pomerol–Fronsac have succeeded in revealing all the vintage's complexity.


The Merlots, harvested from Sept 18, are proof of this quality through:

- High natural degrees of alcohol of around 13%,

- Acidities indicating good balance for the forthcoming wines,

- Exceptional aromatic potential, truly characteristic of Merlots, for the 2006 vintage,

- Thick skins full of colour (anthocyanins) and rich in phenolic compounds.

The Cabernets Francs and Cabernets Sauvignons, harvested in October, will in their turn contribute quality and elegance to the great aromatic complexity of the Merlots.