If I could choose anywhere I could make wine….

From generation to generation for over 200 years, in what is the very centre of St Emilion, my family has cultivated these soils and tended our vines. Today it is my turn and I try to make a wine that comes from my heart. Having now my own young son, who represents the 10th generation, I have decided to convert to an organic and then biodynamic culture for my vines. I owe it to this exceptional place and to future generations.

Franck Moureau  – Owner and Winemaker

Château Béard la Chapelle, Grand Cru St Emilion

Franck Moureau and Thomas

The estate of Château Béard La Chapelle, St Emilion Grand Cru is situated five minutes from the medieval village of St Emilion in the hamlet of St Laurent des Combes. Vines have been planted in this region for nearly 2000 years – the Romans recognised the good ‘terroir’ here.

Medieval village of St Emilion

Finding us; At the bottom of the medieval village, passing in front of Château Pavie (one of only four As), then Larcis Ducasse (Premier Grand Cru Classé) and then Bellefont Belcier (Grand Cru Classé). This southfacing slope is one of St Emilion’s finest and Tertre Roteboeuf is here too at the top of the hill – La Mondotte and Troplong Mondot lie just behind. At the crossroads in St Laurent des Combes turn right and our winery is there – the one with the red door. It may not be a luxurious château but it is an efficient winery building.

St Laurent des Combes with its Roman Church dedicated to St Laurent in the trees overlooking the village and valley

My Family has been based in St Laurent des Combes for over 200 years. Over the generations, small plots have been added in the area as families inter-married – some plots are not far from Châteaux Pavie, Tertre Roteboeuf or Pavie. Today we have a total of 18 hectares in all, located on the slopes of the prestigious limestone plateau and the foot of this slope and some in deep sands. This mix of ‘terroir’ helps to give our wine its complexity.

Valley of St Laurent des Combes (Gail Barnett copyright)

I cant say it is easy, nature seems to be increasingly extreme and challenging but what drives me is the thought that around the world my wine is enjoyed by people and it helps to cement emotions and the feeling of togetherness – whatever the race or gender. If my wine can help even a little to get through these hard times together – it makes it all worthwhile. “

Feminine Intuition – Some of our best plots come from my Grandmother, Isabelle ‘Manou’ Saby Desveaux, who died last year – it was her 99th. She played a significant role in the development of the estate. She was able to see the arrival of the next generation, my son Thomas. There was nearly a 100 years between them. My grandmother is buried in the Roman church of St Laurent des Combes that overlooks the valley – and from where you can see the ‘chai’.

Great Grandmother Isabelle, known as ‘Manou’ with tenth generation of the family

I am the ninth generation and am proud that our domain lies in the heart of the prestigious terroir of St Emilion.

My main area of focus are the vines – making sure that they are in the best environment possible, and that I believe starts with the soil.  I love to walk the different plots with my faithful Pointer Ethan. They are old vines with an average age of 60 years – mostly Merlot but some very old centenary Cabernet Franc which brings its class and finesse too.

Château Béard la Chapelle, St Emilion Grand Cru in the foreground with Bellefont Belcier and Tertre Rotebouef behind

Going Green; we are converting to organic and already use no insecticides or herbicides and the organic ‘Bouillie Bordelaise’ against fungal disease. We prefer cultivation, working the soil to control weeds.  Female pheromone capsules deter the ‘vers de grappe’ as we like to encourage biodiversity in our vineyards.

Starting young

Running the estate, from the vines through to the winemaking, gives me an innate advantage in making decisions. My desire is to produce an authentic elegant wine. A wine that reflects its ‘nature’ – its birthplace and birth year.

In the cellar we keep things as ‘minimal’ as possible letting nature make her mark and to preserve the purity of this special fruit. We are careful to pick when the grapes are ripe, but not over-ripe, as we like to retain some freshness.

Handpicked Merlot grapes 2019 vintage

Keeping temperatures down initially, the fruit macerates in its own vibrant coloured juice for four days. Then gently the fermentation begins. It is the yeasts that occur naturally on the grapes that ferment the wine. Extraction is done gently at the beginning of the fermentation before the alcohol arrives. We do not add any sulphites until the ageing period begins, and then it is minimal.

Racking takes place every six months to reduce exposure to oxygen and there is little or no filtration or fining at the end. In order to further preserve the pure fruit flavours, I age a proportion of each wine in small unlined brut concrete vats. The rest is aged in traditional 225 litre French oak barrels – with one third new oak each year.

copyright Gail Barnett

http://www.beardlachapelle.com

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