Tag Archives: Château La Lagune

Que Syrah Syrah

We don’t grow Syrah in Bordeaux; you’ll know that of course if you’ve travelled here or attended class with me. Bordeaux is all about the blend but the principal grape variety here is Merlot (not Cabernet Sauvignon as many think), which represents about 65% of current planting across the region followed by 23% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cab Franc and 2% of the other varietals (Petit Verdot, Malbec, Carmenere) permitted by the AOC (or AOP) appellations rules.  There is an argument that with climate change (an argument all by itself!) that there may be a place for Syrah here in the future but perhaps not in my tenancy.

However that does not stop an alliance between Bordeaux and this Rhone varietal, a tradition dating back to the 16th century, if a little talked about practice in the 19th century when wine merchants were responsible for the blending and  ageing of wines in Bordeaux. A practice put to a stop by the creation of appellations in 1936 by INAO.

Two famous names from the Medoc have successfully revived the Bordeaux-Syrah tradition.

2004 was the first vintage of classified Haut Medoc property Chateau La Lagune made by Caroline Frey, whose family purchased the estate in 2000. Oenologist Caroline Frey, with her young team, has overseen the renovation of the property first the cellars and then the spectacular chartreuse and has increased the size of the estate and introduced a third label Mademoiselle L, a particular favourite of mine.

Mademoiselle L

Mademoiselle L

As if she didn’t have enough on her hands the family purchased Domaines Paul Jaboulet Aîné, in 2006. Her constant trips across France managing both properties inspired her to revive the old traditional of adding a little Syrah to a Bordeaux blend to give extra colour, backbone and structure.

Her first blend was created in 2006 under the label DUO. This top end, low production wine is a blend of their iconic Rhone valley vineyard La Chapelle and the first wine of Chateau la Lagune. Since 2010 however Caroline has made a more accessible version, in style, volume as well as price under the label Evidence.

Evidence

Evidence

This new wine is a blend of plots destined for le Moulin de la Lagune, the second wine of the chateau and selected plots of younger Syrah owned by Jaboulet in Hermitage. It therefore includes Syrah, Cabernet and Merlot. The wines are aged separately in 15% new oak for 18 months on opposite sides of France before being blended in the cellars of merchant Jaboulet in the Rhone and sold as a Vin de France.

Chateau Palmer has also produced an aptly named, “Historical XIXth Century Wine”, This blend of about 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet from Château Palmer  to which around 10-15% Syrah from the northern Rhône is added, depending on the vintage, has seen the light in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2010. This is also an exclusive release with only about 100-400 cases made, again depending on the vintage. The 2010 has yet to be released. Its origin is also a personal story. In early 2005, the new head of Château Palmer, Thomas Duroux, tasted a Château Palmer 1869 at the home of an American wine collector. Bottles from this period have been found with the added mention “hermitagé” or “ermitagé”, referring to the practice of adding wine from the Northern Rhone for the reasons mentioned above. Hence the idea was born to revive this tradition with a name chosen to reflect the property’s links with the British market.

The Historical 19th Century Wine from Chateau Palmer

The Historical 19th Century Wine from Chateau Palmer

Other Bordeaux producers are also familiar with Syrah, and in many regions Cabernet and Syrah are blended to great effect. I recently tasted the Lafite owned Aussières Rouge, Vin de Pays d’Oc, an elegant blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah produced in their Languedoc property.

 

Aussières Rouge from the Lafite stable

Aussières Rouge from the Lafite stable

It’s a seductive blend and I would be interested to hear if any of you have any other examples to share.

 

 

Inspiration for your 2014 visit to Bordeaux.

 If you are planning a visit to Bordeaux this year, here are a few ideas I’ll be suggesting to visitors.  

Stay somewhere (very) different. I’m constantly suggesting lovely places to stay in and around Bordeaux on this blog but this year why not stay somewhere (very) different? I previously have posted about staying in tree houses and vats but if that is not cutting edge enough for you, try staying at Chateau La Romaningue in a bubble or even in a gypsy caravan.

Learn to cuisine like a chateau chef. More and more Chateaux are happy to open not just their cellar doors but also their kitchens where you can learn the secrets of Bordelais cuisine and food and wine matches at the source.  Chateau Phelan Segur in Saint Estèphe, Chateau Gruaud Larose in Saint Julien  and Chateau La Pointe in Pomerol all offer cooking classes and workshops followed by lunch to sample your success with a glass or two of the chateau wine. Lunch or dinner at Chateau La Lagune in their sumptuous kitchen is an opportunity to see Chef Catherine Negre at work. Check out some of the recipes here to whet your appetite or start practicing at home.

A table in the kitchens of Chateau La Lagune.

A table in the kitchens of Chateau La Lagune.

Shop ‘til you drop. More and more Chateaux have great shops, selling  not just wine and vinous paraphernalia but other cool gifts. In the Entre deux Mers, call in at Chateau Lestrille in Saint Germain du Puch to see owner Estelle Roumage’s eclectic selection of gifts and French specialities.

Shop at Chateau Lestrille

Shop at Chateau Lestrille

Just down the road in Grezillac at Chateau Ferret Lambert, Valerie Lambert has created a wonderful space showing various collectables and renovated French country furniture and bric à brac.

Look for treasures at Chateau Feret Lambert

Look for treasures at Chateau Feret Lambert

You if like you can even stay for lunch, dinner or even overnight in one of her guest rooms. Chateau Biac is opening its new tasting room this year on a unique oriental theme as befits the Lebanese owner Youmna Asseily.

Get off the beaten track. Have you noticed that a lot of the above recommendations are in the Entre deux Mers? That leads me to my next suggestion. Yes the classified growths of the Medoc, Saint Emilion and Graves will always be on visitors wish lists but try and find the time to visit the lesser known appellations of Bordeaux: the Saint Emilion Satellites, the Côtes and the Entre deux Mers. Here you will find the smaller family owned properties where the owners and wine makers will be on hand, often with bed and breakfast and table d’hôtes to add to the welcome.

A cellar lunch at Domaine de Claouset in the Entre deux Mers

A cellar lunch at Domaine de Claouset in the Entre deux Mers

Be a culture vulture. Bordeaux has some great museums and art galleries. If contemporary art is your thing, do not to miss the amazing Institut Culturel Bernard Magrez  created by the Chateau owner in the centre of Bordeaux. Many chateaux use the summer months to not just show their wines to visitors but also to show-case up and coming artists. Chateau Kirwan, Chateau Palmer, Chateau d’Arsac, Chateau Paloumey, La Tour Bessan and Lynch Bages are some of the properties that welcome artists to their cellars each year.

An art installation in the cellars of Chateau Kirwan

An art installation in the cellars of Chateau Kirwan

Learn how Bordeaux works. There’s more to Bordeaux than just the Chateaux,. To understand how the wine gets to Market, visit a negociant. Cordier, and Millesima both offer great visits to discover how the ‘Place de Bordeaux’ works and on the banks of the Dordogne, a visit to Le Chai au Quai can show you a hands on wine making experience.

Le Chai au Quai on the banks of the Dordogne

Le Chai au Quai on the banks of the Dordogne

See you there soon.

 

A little bit of Britain in the heart of St Emilion

Staying in a working vineyard is always a treat and in Bordeaux you are spoilt for choice. Between luxury hotels on, or associated with, vineyards (think Les Sources de Caudalie, Hostellerie de Plaisance and Cordeillan Bages) and more low key but often just as luxurious B & B’s think Chateau de Mole and Chateau Grand Faurie Larose (more of which soon to follow in another post). You can even privatise a Chateau for your guests and live like a chatelaine at Chateau La Lagune or live like a local in a self catering gite such as Chateau Biac

Somewhere in between the 2 is one of my favourites. Chateau Franc Mayne is a classified growth of St Emilion, owned and run by Griet Laviale. On the eastern slopes of the limestone outcrop at the heart of the appellation the Chateau overlooks the vineyards not just of saint Emilion but also Pomerol with views of the Tertre de Fronsac in the distance. The chateau is the perfect location for a boutique hotel, only 5 minutes from the village by bicycle (which they provide).

Griet has used the site beautifully with the 9 bedrooms in the main chateau, where her artistic flair and familiarity with high-end hotels has been put to good use. The sumptuous living room with its honesty bar and oenomatic wine selection leads to the onto the terrace and natural swimming pool overlooking that view. The pool reflects the eco concerns of the owners, as do the agricultural practices of the estate and the complete recycling of all water used in the winery as well as the hotel.

Close by are the redesigned winery cellars with the latest oak and stainless vats and the 9th century quarries used for ageing.

The View across the vines to Fronsac

Never one to stand still Griet is just putting the finishing touches to 2 new guest rooms in the 18th century post house situated on the very top of the property along side the old roman road leading from Libourne to the heart of Saint Emilion. This road was used by the pilgrims on their way to Saint Jacques de Compostella in the middle ages and it is now dedicated to more modern hedonistic pilgrims in pursuit of fine food & wine.

The two rooms in the post house are a perfect getaway for a family or friends, slightly away from the main house. For obvious reasons the Oxbridge room, with its private terrace, speaks to me. Both rooms have what must be the biggest showers in Saint Emilion, if not Bordeaux, where you can sing under the shower with a view over the vines.

The Oxbridge room

You are not limited to supping Saint Emilion while you are in residence, Griet owns 2 other properties in the region; the spectacular Chateau de Lussac in the heart of the satellite appellation Lussac Saint Emilion and Château Vieux Maillet in Pomerol and are available for tasting, and drinking, at the property.

Keep on eye on the Relais Franc Mayne as they are currently redesigning the tour in the underground quarries and, in keeping with their eco philosophy, they will be building a tree house in the famous Cedars (the name of their second wine) for the next season.

Discover Bordeaux this summer part 2

Fancy a new spin on an old skill? Visit La winery – visitors can take part in a tasting test to find out their individual ‘wine sign’ pointing out which wine(s) suits your palate and lifestyle best. Their wine experts can then devise a wine portfolio with suggestions of wine styles and even particular wines that the individual would enjoy. Their on-site international wine shop with bar is a great place to sample or buy these wines or just enjoy browsing, amongst unusual pieces from local artists. And you can take in lunch or dinner at their on-site restaurant. www.winery.fr

Château de Malleret – For a more laid back visit contact Bruno Van Der Heyden at this beautiful old estate with rooms for groups and tree houses where you can spend the night. www.chateau-malleret.fr. For the tree houses contact: Prune Gouet – contact@naturacabana.fr

Haut Médoc
One of the tree housezs at Château Malleret

Chateau d’Agassac won a National competition for its architecture, parks and gardens
http://www.agassac.com. Visits are offered in French and English by appointment (from 1st June to September 30: Tuesday to Saturday between 10.30 and 6.30 and from October 1st to May 31st, Monday to Friday). Wine tastings are offered, including tastings with chocolate, and there are adventure trails for children to ‘find the chateau princess’ and more.

Château La Lagune is an amazing property and has recently been beautifully renovated. It has a few guest rooms which can be rented, with the most fabulous kitchens where you can dine courtesy of the private chef. Caroline Frey is the young owner and wine-maker. Both Caroline and the property are very photogenic! www.chateau-lalagune.com
Contact: c.frey@chateau-lalagune.com

Bordeaux women welcome the Napa women in Wine

Last January Napa Women in Wine invited their Bordeaux counterparts to discover the Napa Vineyard. This year was the return match.

From the 11th to 15th January, The 16 ladies from Napa travelled the length and breadth of Bordeaux from Pomerol to the Medoc, Saint Emilion to Sauternes and Pessac Leognan visint gproperties where women plys a major role either as wine makers, owners or managers. Included on the itinerary were Château La Lagune, Château la Tour Bessan, Château Margaux, Château kirwan, Château Paloumey, Château Franc Mayne, Château Teyssier, Château Troplong Mondot, Château Sigalas Rabaud, Château Yquem, Château Haut Bailly and Château de Seuil.
It was not just tourism; several conferences on themes including marketing, understanding Bordeaux, a presentation on the role of the negociant by Paz Espero and ‘Tasting Terroir’ by Nicole Croft.

The participants from both sides of the Atlantic were

From California 
Jane Ballentine – William Cole
Pavi Lawson – Pavi Wines
Heidi Barrett – La Sirena
Cherie Melka – Melka Wines
Sandy Blecher – Arns Family Winery Beth Milliken – Spottswood
Carissa Chappellet – Chappellet Winery
Mary Novak – Spottswood
Carolyn Duryea Smith – Hourglass Suzanne Pavitt – Phifer Pavitt Wines
Ursula Hermacinski – Screaming Eagle
Pam Starr – Crocker & Starr
Sharon Harris – AmiCellars
Pierette Titus – Titus Vineyards,
Erin Lail – LailVineyard
Michele Torres – Trincharo Family Vineyards

And from Bordeaux 
Sandrine Garbay, Wine Maker – Château d’Yquem- AOC Sauternes.
Laure Compeyrot, propriétaire – Château Sigalas Rabaud – AOC Sauternes.
Myriam Ruer, négociant propriétaire de Vinprod
Nicola Allison, propriétaire – Château du Seuil – AOC Graves
Griet Laviale, propriétaire & Laurence Ters, Wine Maker : Château Franc Mayne, AOC saint Emilion Château de Lussac, AOC Lussac Saint Emilion – Château Vieux Mallet – AOC Pomerol
Caroline Frey, propriétaire – Château La Lagune , AOC Haut-Médoc
Sophie Thierry, propriétaire – Château Kirwan, AOC Margaux
Martine Cazeneuve propriétaire & Babara Engerer, RP Château Paloumey, AOC Haut-Médoc
Marie-Laure Lurton, propriétaire – Château de Villegeorge , AOC Haut-Médoc- Château Duplessis, AOC Moulis – Château La Tour Bessan, AOC Margaux.
Lyn Maltus, propriétaire Château Teyssier, AOC Saint Emilion Grand cru
and my good self !