part 3, Château La Garde, Pessac-Léognan, and dinner with Matthieu
Bordeaux negociant and property owner aiming to change the fortunes
of affordable wines from Bordeaux
we met with Guillaume Poutier, who is winemaker responsible for the
Dourthe properties in the south of the region: La Garde, Rahoul, Pey
de la Tour and Ricaud. There are 59 hectares of vineyards at La
Garde, with 51 currently in production. They have recently renovated
the winery and put in tanks suitable for the size of the vineyard
Garde has just two hectares of white vineyards, split equally
between Saivignon Gris and Sauvignon Blanc. These are in the
portions of the vineyard with clay and some chalky limestone.
best bits of the vineyard have up to 40 cm gravel with clay subsoil,
which is very important for reducing the water supply to the vine
from flowering to harvest. ‘When the berry is growing hydric
restriction is very important,’ says Poutier. However, they don't
want hydric restriction for the whites. Through the vineyard there
are more than 200 sampling points where pressure chambers are used
to measure the hydration status of the vines through the growing
season, every 15 days from July 1st until harvest. The spots with
more clay have less hydric restriction, and in these they'll keep
the grass higher and allow a higher canopy to compensate.
Sauvignon is grown at 9000 vines per hectare (although there are two
plots with 13 and 15 000 vines/hectare as trials). When Poutier
arrived at La Garde in 1990 he immediately recognized the elegance
of the wines made from the old vine Cabernet, but many of these 50
year old vines were essentially exhausted and weren't producing
enough quantity. As a result, the upper part of the vineyard has
2009 they have been trialling biodynamics on the remaining old vine
plots, to see whether it produces better results than organics or
lutte raisonnee. It wasn't the best vintage to do the trial because
it was hot and there was low disease pressure: they'd be interested
to see how biodynamie performed in a more typical year.
Incidentally, La Garde was the first estate to do certified
viticulture raisonnee in France.
me, wine is as natural as possible. I don't like too much wood,’
says Poutier. He says he does malo in tank, not in barrel. ‘Doing
malo in barrel is better for primeur, but not for the wine.’
did some cask sampling of the 2009 components
From an old barrel. Very reduced, minerally and flinty. Quite
complex with a grapefruit edge. PH 3.05, 13.3% alcohol
pH 3.15, 13.6% alcohol. Mouthfilling and vibrant with lots of
fruit and high acidity.
fraction of 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
Bit reduced with nice fresh fruit and lovely focus. Mineralic.
Apparently this is the worst batch of wine in the cellar, but it's
2009 – this will go into the second wine. Lovely intense,
vibrant, pure wine with fresh gravelly fruit.
2009 from gravel over clay. Dark, intense and vibrant with
lovely focused fruit. Really alive.
2009 from only clay. Lovely vibrant, tannic, intense fruit.
Lively and assertive with nice purity.
2009, another parcel. Soft, rich, generous and pure.
Sauvignon 2009 Very dark, structured, dense and vibrant.
Sauvignon 2009 Young vines, on top of hill. 14.6% alcohol, pH
3.6. Lovely density and depth with lovely balance.
Sauvignon 2009 Biodynamic plot, 50 year old vines. Rich, ripe
and intense with nice boldness and minerality.
Verdot 2009 Organic. Very intense, ripe and bold. Amazing
intensity. This will be 4-6% of the final blend. PH 3.4, 15.2%
with Matthieu Chadronnier
had dinner with Mattieu Chadronnier and Patrick Jestin. Matthieu is
Jean-Marc's son and is in charge of the Grand Cru Classe negociant
side of the business. Of the 400 Bordeaux negociants, Dourthe gets
the second highest level of allocations. Like everyone else,
Matthieu has to buy through the courtiers, who take a cool 2% off
all transactions. Being a courtier must be a nice gig. There's no
Thienot Grande Cuvée 1999
Very rich, intense and quite complex with broad flavours of
toast and vanilla, and some sweetness to the fruit. A big, rich,
crowd-pleasing style. 93/100
Thienot Cuvée Grance Blanc de Rouges 2002
Very taut and fresh with crisp, intense, pure lemony fruit.
Really fruity with some ripeness. Fruitier and riper than most
discussed Château Palmer's experimental historical wine. In the
past, Hermitage (northern Rhône Syrah) was used to fortify
Bordeaux, adding a bit of beef. Thomas Duroux of Palmer is making a
special wine to recreate these wines of the past. He's sourcing some
Syrah from the northern Rhône and blending 10-15% of this with
Palmer, creating some 4–6000 bottles of 19th century claret. It's
priced the same as palmer, but has to be labelled Vin de Table.
2004, 2006 and 2007 have been made so far. None was made in 2008 or
2009. Apparently, the 2007 is exceptional.
we had six wines blind, some of which were Dourthe wines batting
against much more expensive opposition. Notes and scores here are as
written, without sight of the label.
Château Beausejour St Emilion Grand
Cru Classe 2006 Bordeaux
Fresh, minerally nose with lovely dark cherry and robust
raspberry fruit. Fresh and youthful with firm tannins and nice
definition. Dense, taut and pure. 93/100
Château Pey la Tour 2006 Bordeaux
Sweet nose with ripe fruit and a bit of herbiness. Slightly
stewed. The palate is quite tannic with fresh bright fruit and
attractive focused berry notes. A ripe, appealing style for drinking
Château Soutard St Emilion Grand Cru
Classe 2006 Bordeaux
Nice blackcurrant and red berry fruit with some chalky
minerality. The palate is dense and tannic with a subtly bitter,
tarry edge to the fruit. Finishes with firm tannins. Stylish. 90/100
Château La Garde 1990 (magnum)
Mature, herby and aromatic with hints of iodine and game. Lovely
richness and minerality with spice and tar notes. Drinking
beautifully now. 91/100
Dourthe Essence 2000 Bordeaux
Taut, intense mineralic nose with brooding dark fruits. Intense
and serious. The palate is savoury, mineral, taut and intense with a
lovely gravelly edge. Serious and powerful with amazing depth to it.
Some meaty notes. 95/100
Château Mouton Rothschild Pauillac
Toasty, slightly roasted nose with a savoury, roasted character
dominating. There’s serious fruit and minerality hiding under that
roasted character, and it’s a tannic, intense wine. 92/100
Château La Garde, and dinner with Matthieu Chadronnier
Château Pey La Tour
Château Belgrave, and blending Essence
Château Le Boscq
Bordeaux wines of Bernard Magrez (series)
these wines with wine-searcher.com