Just in the airport after four days in Bordeaux. The goal of this trip was to look beyond the established image of the region, to the more hidden side of Bordeaux. We looked at producers using organics/biodynamics, we looked at the younger generation of winemakers, and we looked for good terroirs in less-known regions. There were lots of surprises.
Maxime Juillot of Château Sémillan Mazeau, AOC Listeras. His superbly elegant 2014, from organically grown grapes, was a real highlight.
Cabernet Sauvignon at Château Lafon Rochet in St Estephe. Basile Testeront (nephew of Pontet Canet’s Alfred) farms organically, and he’s very happy with 2016 so far – harvest here was just finishing.
This is a 2016 Merlot from Lafon Rochet that’s fermented to dryness. It was looking pretty smart, although this is a baby wine. Pretty much everyone we visited was very happy with 2016, which looks like being a consistently good vintage. The only problem for a few is reduced yields, caused by horribly wet weather in late spring/early summer. Where will it rank? Too soon to say, but while there may not be some of the peaks of 2015, there will probably be more consistency. It has turned out much better than most winegrowers had expected or hoped for, which is good news.
Perfect-looking Cabernet Sauvignon at Lafon Rochet.
Basile Tesseron, Ch Lafon Rochet
Palmer. It was great to visit with Thomas Duroux to hear about how Palmer is now 100% biodynamic.
Harvest was underway, and here are some Petit Verdot grapes on the sorting table.
Thomas Duroux in the cellar at Château Palmer. The 2015 we tried from barrel were sensational. He’s pleased with 2016 but lost half his crop to mildew in June.
Château Falfas, Côtes de Bourg, has some lovely soils. It has been farmed biodynamically since 1988.
Véronique Cochran is an inspiring, charming winegrower, and the inspiration for farming Falfas biodynamically came from her father, Francois Bouchet, who was the pioneer of biodynamic wine growing back in the 1960s.
Falfas dates back to the 17th century. The Château is from 1612 (pictured), and the winery dates from later in the same century.
We had a lovely visit at Château Peybonhomme Les Tours in Blaye, which has been biodynamic since 2000. They are now working with a range of different amphora/terracotta vessels.
The family behind Peybonhomme: Guillaume and Rachel Hubert with their father Jean-Luc.
We also visited the hugely impressive Cite du Vin in Bordeaux.
A nice surprise was Château de Cérons, in the Graves appellation. They have lovely limestone terroirs, and their red and white are both superb, as is the stunning sweet wine from the tiny Cérons appellation. Pictured are owners Catherine and Xavier Perromat.
The limestone of Cérons, with its fossils.
It was great to visit Sauternes/Barsac. This will be a great year for Sauternes. Here are some Semillon grapes nobly rotting at Chateau de Myrat in Barsac.
The press being loaded at Myrat with dust from the spores.
Harvest of the nobly-rotted grapes at Château Doisy Daëne, Barsac.
Limestone-rich soils at Doisy Daëne.
Bordeaux Oxygène is a great organization of young winemakers looking to change the face of Bordeaux. We had dinner with a group of them at the fabulous Belle Compagne in the city.
Tasting the 2016s at Vignobles Ducourt. This is a bigger operation with 14 Chateaux.
Jonathan Ducourt explaining how they’ve been trialling new disease resistant varieties. The wines tasted good, and the grapes don’t need spraying. Will they be allowed in future AOC Bordeaux wines?
On the plateau of Saint-Emilion with Château Coutet. A lovely terroir. They’ve been organic forever, too.
Saint-Emilion. Too pretty for words.
So, just a glimpse of what I’ve been up to. Bordeaux is more than just the famous Château of the Médoc. There are stories that need to be told.2 Comments on Four days in Bordeaux – some highlights and the 2016 vintage
2 thoughts on “Four days in Bordeaux – some highlights and the 2016 vintage”
Somehow feel this is what we need more of. Getting younger drinkers who can’t remotely afford the top châteaux to enter via the improving lower levels, which most other classic regions have achieved. I sometimes feel the top Cru Classés are quite insular, but then I’m not a regular visitor.
A very interesting rundown of your visit. Long ago I pretty much stopped drinking Bordeaux, principally for economic reasons, and also because I was too often disappointed. But in the last few years I’ve come to appreciate what might be called the New Wave of Bordeaux producers, often from inauspicious appellations. We’ve stayed in Bordeaux a few time in the last 5-6 years, and each time the owner of the little hotel where we stayed gave us a bottle of red Bordeaux as a gift when we left. As he explained, these were everyday wines, not the big names. While the first was decent and the second one fairly mediocre, the most recent one was excellent. And I’ve had others since from lesser appellations that have been very good. The hard part is finding them, since there are a huge number of wine producers in Bordeaux.