Monthly Archives: March 2010

New wine for Château Sigalas Rabaud

Laure de Lambert is working closely with her father but this dynamic young winemaker is never the less slowly but surely making her influence felt at Sauternes 1er grand cru classé Château Sigalas Rabaud.
2009 will be the first vintage that this small ‘boutique ‘ Sauternes will make a dry white white wine, the production of which has become common practice amongst the top Sauternes and Barsac properties.
We tasted from the 4 barrels of this Semillion-Sauvignon blend and what a delightfully floral and complex wine.
Normally the dry white wines of the region take as their name the initial of the Sauternes premier vin, following in the footsteps of Y d’Yquem. However S and R are already taken what to do?
The name is to be confirmed but will probably be La Demoiselle de Sigalas after her very dynamic Grand mother – now we know who Laure takes after!

Laure de Lambert shares her new wine directly from the barrel

Château Pichon Longueville Open for business

Château Pichon Longueville has always had an open door policy, both for the cellar and the Château which offers both accommodation and a wonderful dining experience.
This experience is now available to larger groups with the renovation of the reception rooms linked by an underground tunnel to the newly renovated cellars. The rooms, which include not just a tasting room but also a library, can host groups up to 100 guests for lunch or dinner.
The renovation, just in time for the Primeurs next week, was celebrated with a lunch on Friday where Christian Seely show-cased wines from four of the estates belonging to the Axa Millesime group : Château Pichon-Longueville, Petit Village Château Suduiraut in Sauternes and even Quinta do Noval Port ;
Another top Bordeaux château Open for business – even on the weekend !

The new library at Château Pichon Longueville

In search of lost terroir.

Terroir remains the key to fine wine for many wine makers despite arguments from some that it’s all about wine making. The buzz in Bordeaux is definitely in favour of expressing the famous terroir which changes from one property to another and one appellation to another. More importantly doing so using the most natural agricultural techniques, that the climate will allow, to do so. However to express terroir you have to understand it to know what is under your feet.
To this end many vineyards in Bordeaux have invested in exploring their terroir by using techniques such as satellite imaging to measure water stress and warmth. The classic method however is to dig big holes, take a look and analyse the soil samples from the different levels
Such a study is currently going on in Château de La Dauphine a property that is one of about 20 properties that are currently changing the perception of the little known Fronsac appellation.
Fronsac is one of those hidden treasures of Bordeaux, on a continuation of the same limestone outcrop running along the right bank of the Dordogne river from the centre of Saint Emilion and it has some of the most glorious scenery in the region.
The beautiful 17th century Château de La Dauphine, overlooking the Dordogne, was purchased by Jean Halley in 2000 and he has transformed the estate. Starting with a brand new cellar in place for the 2001 vintage, which is all gravity fed concrete and stainless steel tanks, hand picking, sorting tables and wonderful working conditions.
The other major investment has been the gradual replanting of the vineyard, which is really starting to show its fruits (excuse the pun).
The current soil survey will allow not only more precise decisions about which varieties to plant where (currently 80% Merlot and 20° Cabernet Franc) but also as to which soils require which root stock depending not just on water resistance but their mineral content and reactivity. It will also allow a more precise canopy management as a function of each plot. This is the real notion of plot by plot management and what may look similar on the surface is not necessary the case underneath.
In all over 200 ‘holes’ (more like trenches) have been dug over the 32 ha property, each to the depth of the root penetration and the Director Bernard Lamaud is looking forward to the results as the vines start to bud and trellising decisions will have to be made.
The property now produces two wines, Château de La Dauphine and the second wine recently re baptised as Delphis.

What Clay limestone soils really look like

Spring has sprung

The first day of spring and as if to celebrate the sun is shining and the cuckoos calling. It Is 20°C and the sap is rising in the vines. Pruning is usually all over by the end of March and as the sap rises the vines are said to cry, the tears or ‘pleurs’ of the vines show where the new pruning has taken place.
The beginning of a new vintage only a few days before the wine world is expected in Bordeaux to taste what the last one has to offer.

Wood Winters wins the IWSC – Independent Retailer of the Year Award

The Scottish independent retailer Wood Winters was declared winner of the IWSC prize at a lunch held last wednesday at the beautiful Mosimanns in London with the other 9 finalists.

The award was sponsored by Bordeaux and so I was invited along to share some of the latest news from Bordeaux with the retailers as many of them are heading to Bordeaux for the Primer tastings next week.

A great range of everyday Bordeaux was served with lunch including Château de Seuil Graves Blanc 2007 which was fabulous with the legendary Mosimann cuisine and a Bordeaux Superieur Château Penin which even these experienced merchants agreed was one of the best value wines they had tasted in a long time.

Douglas Morton from the Bordeaux Wine Council and Frances Horder from IWSC
present Douglas Wood with the award.

Bordeaux at Mosimanns

Mosimanns, the private dining club in Knightsbridge has had a Bordeaux week.

Wednesday Bordeaux Blonde presented to the winner and finalists of the IWSC independent retailer competition and Friday Alexander Van Beek and Veronique Sanders hosted a Château Giscours and Château Haut Bailly tasting dinner there.
Mr Mosimann even has his own Bordeaux label !

Sweet wine and Curry

The sweet wine producers of Bordeaux always tell us what a great match these wines, so often relegated to dessert, are for spicy and ‘exotic cuisine’.

Well I’m in the perfect location to find out; an Indian Buffet and yes there is a Sauternes on the wine list – and guess what? Château Sigalas Rabaud, what a well travelled wine – last seen in its 2002 version in Geneva, (see post on 3rd March). This time it’s a delicious 1995 and yes it does work but honestly I’m afraid to say it showed to its best advantage with the tropical fruit platter for dessert

Am I missing something?

Waiting for my flight at Heathrow and intrigued by the profusion of Bordeaux case ends decorating the Bridge Bar I popped in to check what surely should be an interesting wine list. It would seem however that their interest in Bordeaux is limited uniquely to interior decorating – not a Bordeaux wine in site!
However I managed to console myself on the flight with the Brio 2002, second wine of Chateau Cantenac Brown in Margaux and such a great label. That and a quick extravagance in duty free Gucci!