At the Maison des Vins de Saint-Emilion on 14 janvier 2009
I ‘animated’ a tasting of twelve wines. It was no ordinary tasting as twelve women winemakers from all over Bordeaux presented their wines ‘face to face’ to a group of 15 women winemakers from the Napa Valley. The wines ranged in style from dry white to fullbodied reds and the tasting cululated with a delicious but very unique Sauternes. The wines came from appellations as different as Bordeaux Superior to Graves, Margaux and St Emilion. Each wine was presented by its female winemaker and the Napa contingent asked questions about the wines and vinification techniques used to arrive at such distinct styles. A wonderful ambience and openness was expereinced from both sides of the Atlantic.
Vins blancs :
Château Thieuley 2007 AOC Bordeaux Blanc presented by winemaker Marie Coursell. 35% Sauvignon, 15% Sauvignon Gris (gives spiciness to wine), 50% Semillon. Wonderful aromatic citrus aromas, nice freshness on the palate. Round and quite luscious onthe palate but nice acidity makes it thirstquenching and quite delicious. Fantastic value for money. Made by two young sisters. Skin contact for 12 to 24 hours. Pneumatic press under nitrogen to protect the white juice from oxidation (white grape juice is much more prone to oxidation which destroys the fruit aromas as it is not protected by the antioxidising tannins that help protect red grape juice).
Château La Tour Martillac 2005 Cru Classé AOC Pessac Léognan Blanc presented by winemaker Valérie Vialard. 55 % Sauvignon 55% Semillon and 1% Muscadelle. Complex, intense aromas (notes of white peach but also quite minerally) and rich fullness in the mouth but without being heavy due to its surprising acidity fwhich comes from the cold nights during the 2005 Summer according to Valerie. Long finish showed that this wine has further potential to age.
Vins rouges :
Château La Peyre du Tertre 2007 AOC Bordeaux Clairet presented by winemaker Caty Lucas. 50% Cabernet Franc and 50% Merlot. Fresh summer fruit flavours. Made from the Merlot saignee (pre fermentation maceration of 12 to 36 hours) and pressed Cabernet Franc.
Château La Peyre du Tertre 2005 AOC Bordeaux Supérieur Rouge presented by winemaker Caty Lucas. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot. Fermented in barrels and 12 months in barrels ageing. Toasty wood with black fruits with firm tannins.
Château Guibot Fourvielle 2004 AOC Puisseguin St-Emilion presented by winemaker Brigitte Bourlon 85% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Brigitte explained how a lot of care was taken int he vineyards to ensure minimum spraying treatments were necessary. 60% new oak and 40% of one wine. This was a real discovery for me. Wonderful concentration of blackcurrant fruit and wonderful vanilla notes. Sweet perfumed concentration. Powerful mouthfilling wine but with wonderful texture of velvet. Fresh finish for this complex powerful yet elegant wine.
Château Bourgneuf Vayron 2000 AOC Pomerol presented by winemaker Dominique Vayron. 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc. A big powerful wine for a Pomerol. Quite muscular and robust for this family owned property of 22 acres well situated in teh centre of the appellation , west of Trotanoy.
Château Dassault 2003 Grand Cru Classé de St-Emilion presented by winemaker Laurence Brun. Located between Montagne and St Christphe des Bardes. Twenty four hectare estate owned by Laurent Dassault. Smooth texture for this straight forward wine of riep black cherry. Often we find cooked notes in this heatwave vintage but not here. Hot notes and low acidity but not cooked.
Château Malartic Lagravière 2001 Grand Cru Classé de Graves Rouge presented by winemaker Séverine Bonnie. Cru Classe for both red and white wines (one of only six). 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc. Single parcel of vines of 91 acres on high gravel terraces. This wine was sweet seduction. Perfect for drinking now. refined and elegant with a lovely silky smooth texture and long finish.
Château Rauzan Gassies 2003 2nd Grand Cru Classé de Margaux presented by winemaker Pascale Quié. Another heatwave wine and gain not the cooked overripe notes we find sometimes with this vintage. 64% Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot 30%, Cabernet Franc 6%. Licorice and blackcurrant flavours and also a herby graphite quality. Big wine with high tannin levels.
Vin Liquoreux : 1983 Château Gilette Sauternes presented by winemaker Julie Medeville. 90% semillon, 8% Sauvignon and 2% Muscadelle. 4.5 hectares of vinesin Preignac. They only produce their wine (called Creme de Tete) in only the best of years.
We did not know which vintage we were going to be trying at the tasting. Had I known that this was actually a key characteristic of this unique Sauterne chateau, I would not have been surprised. In fact these wines are aged for a minimum of twenty years in concrete vats. That is the wines are made and left without being touched at all for two decades! The story goes that in the 1930s Rene Medeville built cement vats as wood was in short supply. When he left for the war he told those he left behind not to touch the wine. When he returned some years later he found the wine to be inperfect condition and to have aged with such freshness and preserved fruit that the tradition remains today! Honey, flowers, wax, ginger, caramel and orange blossom are amongst the wealth of aromas found in this amazingly fresh sweet wine. Very different from any other Sauternes and a wonderful discovery.