After a relatively mild winter with below average rainfall, frost hit the whole Bordeaux terroir on 27 April. 2017 will also be remembered for a particularly lengthy drought, which did not truly end until December.
Spurred by above average temperatures, the vine growth cycle started slightly earlier than usual, at the end of March. Exceptional weather in April and May meant that flowering occurred 10 days earlier than the average for all varieties. After a very wet June, the summer was moderately sunny but dry, increasing a water deficit which started in 2016. As a result, the grapes remained small, with concentrated sugar and colour.
With an early growth cycle and a dry summer, the 2017 harvest was particularly early. It was also exceptionally long, as picking took place over four weeks across the three estates. At Château d’Armailhac, the harvest started with the Merlot grapes on 6 September and ended with the Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot on 29 September. Running-off ended on 20 October and blending was finalised in December.
The wines are rich, with a deep colour and an attractive tannic structure, both full-bodied and pleasantly fresh even though 2017 is a “solar” vintage. Less wine was made than in an average year because of the drought.
The wine is garnet red with a crimson tint.
The generous and expansive nose opens on aromas of fresh, juicy, creamy fruit, then with airing reveals bilberry notes set off by intense touches of pepper, liquorice and vanilla, giving the wine an enticing feel.
The dense and full-bodied attack extends into the mid-palate, imparting an appealing impression of harmonious sweetness. Nascent oak emerges on smooth and well-structured tannins, accompanied by flavours reminiscent of the nose.
The initial intensity of the fresh fruit flavours extends into the long and persistent finish.