Bordeaux

Château Ausone

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Overview

Ausone takes its name from the Roman poet Ausonius who owned over 100 acres of vineyard around Saint Emilion. It is said that he owned a grand villa in “Lucaniac” (the ancient name for the town), although whether it occupied the exact same location as the present vineyard is perhaps a romantic notion.

The vineyard itself covers just 7-hectares on a steep southeast-facing incline, three-quarters on the actual côte and the remainder atop the cellars around the church (you can just see the vines in the photo at the top of the page.) The soil is a mixture of limestone and clay, becoming sandier on the lower reaches where the grapes exhibit slightly lower acidity.

The Terroir

Chateau Ausone possesses one of the most prized terroirs in all of Bordeaux.  It is quite hilly with clay limestone soils over a bed of Asteria limestone.  The vines are, on average, 50 years old and enjoy a southeastern exposure.

Acreage: 7 Ha
Soil: Clay & Limestone on a bed of Asteria limestone
Grape Varietals: 55% Cabernet Franc, 45% Merlot
Age of the vines:  Since many vines escaped the devastating frosts of 1956, the average age is an impressive 45 to 50 years.
Plant-density: 6500-12000 plants/Ha
Average Yield: 32 hL/Ha
Vinification: Traditional; depending on the vintage, fermentation and maceration last between 3-5 weeks in thermoregulated wooden vats
Aging: Up to 2 years in French oak barrels with 100% new wood


Château Ausone Saint-Émilion

Plant Density: 6,500-12,600 plants/ha

Soil: Clay and limestone on a bed of Asteria limestone

Average Age of the Vines: 50 years old

Average Yield: 32 hl/ha

Annual Production: 18,000 bottles

Grape Varietals: 55% Cabernet Franc; 45% Merlot

Vinification: Traditional; depending on the vintage, fermentation and maceration last between 3-5 weeks in thermoregulated wooden vats

Aging: Up to 2 years in French oak barrels with 100% new wood

Serving Temperature: About 15°C

Food Pairings: This wine matches well with many different kinds of meat, as well as Asian dishes, and pasta

2007 Reviews:

“Berry and milk chocolate aromas, with hints of flowers, follow through to a medium-to-full body, with very silky tannins and a delicious, fruity finish. Subtle and pretty, balanced and gorgeous. So refined and caressing. Best after 2013.”-91pts, Wine Spectator

“The 2007 Ausone is a candidate for one of the wines of the vintage, rivaling Pavie and Lafite Rothschild. Its deep ruby/purple hue is accompanied by a beautiful nose of spring flowers, raspberries, black currants, and crushed rocks. The wine is dense, medium to full-bodied, and pure with sweet tannin as well as a surprisingly evolved, forward style. It is one of the few Ausones I have tasted that can be drunk with great pleasure at this stage, yet it promises to evolve for two decades.”-94pts, Robert Parker, Wine Advocate


Chapelle d'Ausone

Plant Density: 6,500-12,600 plants/ha

Soil: Clay and limestone on a bed of Asteria limestone

Grape Varietals: 50% Cabernet Franc; 50% Merlot

Annual Production: 9,000 bottles

Vinification: Traditional; depending on the vintage, fermentation and maceration last between 3-5 weeks in thermoregulated wooden vats

Aging: Up to 2 years in French oak barrels with 100% new wood

2008 Reviews:

“A beautiful perfume of black raspberries, black cherries, black currants, licorice, damp earth, truffles and asphalt soars from this deep, full-bodied 2008. The tannins are sweet, the concentration level impressive and the wine is round and generous. It is ideal for drinking over the next 15-20 years.”-91pts, Robert Parker, Wine Advocate

“Rich and dense, a second wine that is right at the level of a grand cru classé. The fruit is polished by wood, with additional chocolate and spice character. The wine has power, extraction and tannins that envelop the juicy fruit.”-92pts, Roger Voss, Wine Enthusiast

Chateau Baracan

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Overview

The Gonfrier family took possession of the 19th century estate of Chateau Baracan in 1989. Situated in the municipal district of Capian, Baracan has a picturesque terroir which produces exceptional, refined wines. The owners have taken great pains to renovate the vineyard, including reworking the drainage systems and introducing new grape varietals.


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Chateau Baracan Premieres Côtes de Bordeaux

Location: The municipal district of Capian

AOC: Cadillac Côtes de Bordeaux rouge

Owners: Acquired by the Gonfrier family in 1989

Production Area: 38 ha

Terroir: Clay-gravel slopes

Grape Varietals: 40% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Cabernet Franc, 5% Petit Verdot

Average Age of the Vines: 20 years old

Viticulture: Traditional; the vines are trained using 2 canes and a flat arch.  Controlled grassing and ploughing to encourage biodiversity in the soil; Chateau Baracan was awarded the Haute Valeur Environnementale certification due to its use of sustainable agriculture

Harvest: Manual & mechanical

Vinification: The grapes are destemmed, then pressed and vatted.  This is followed by a cold pre-fermentation maceration which lasts about 72 hours.  Fermentation and maceration takes place in stainless steel, temperature-controlled tanks for about 20 days.

Aging: Maturation lasts 12 months in oak barrels

Tasting Notes: Deep garnet color.  The bouquet is fruity; on the palate this wine is round and dense.  Delightfully fresh on the finish.

Food Pairings: Goes well with a variety of meats, either roasted or grilled

Gilbert & Gaillard 2016 : Gold Medal
Concours des vins de Bordeaux 2015 : Silver Medal

Château Bernadotte

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The Estate

Formerly known as Chateau Fournas, this estate was renamed Bernadotte in 1997 after a past owner, Marshal Bernadotte, who was the Sovereign Prince under the rule of Napoleon I.  Madame de Lencquesaing, owner of Chateau Pichon Lalande at the time, acquired Chateau Bernadotte in 1997 and proceeded to renovate every aspect of the estate.  It is currently owned by the King Power Group who took possession in 2012.


2010-bernadotte

Chateau Bernadotte Haut-Médoc

Production Area: 35 ha

Soil: Gravel, sand, clay

Grape Varietals: 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 44% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, 2% Petit Verdot

Average Age of the Vines: 25 years old

Plantation Density: 6,500 vines per hectare

Vinification: In stainless steel, temperature controlled tanks; malalactic fermentation in tank

Aging: 12-18 months in French oak barrels (30% new wood)

Annual Production: 10,000 cases

Serving Temperature: 15°C

Food Pairings: Pairs well with most meats, braised or grilled.  Also perfect when served with hearty fish, pasta, and Asian dishes

 

 

Chateau Beychevelle

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The Estate

Known as the “Versailles of Bordeaux,” Chateau Beychevelle is located in the St. Emilion appellation.  It is one of the most stunning chateaus in Bordeaux due to its remarkable architecture and beautiful gardens.  Chateau Beychevelle was originally constructed in 1565 by Bishop François of Foix-Candale, after which it came into the possession of the Duc d’Eperon, Admiral of France at that time.  It was this Duke who originated the name of the Chateau; whenever a ship passed close by the estate, the Duke demanded that they “Baisse-Vaille,” or “lower their sails” to show their respect to the him.  “Baisse-Vaille” eventually evolved into “Beychevelle,” which has been the name of the Chateau ever since.

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The second Duc d’Epernon was a great patron of the arts-a legacy that continues to this day-and legend has it that at one time he invited a troupe of actors to stay and perform at the château, and among them was Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, otherwise known as Molière.

In the years following, the property had several owners.  In 1970, Aymar Achille-Fould took posession, and in 1984, he gained a partner for the first time: the Grands Millésimes de France (GMF) group.  That trend continued in 1988 when the GMF group partnered with the Japanese Suntory Company.  They were already familiar with Bordeaux, as they owned the neighboring estate, Chateau Lagrange.  In February 2011, Chateau Beychevelle took on new owners when Suntory along with Pierre Castel purchased the St. Julien estate.


St Julien

 

Saint-Julien 4ème Grand Cru Classé

The Vineyard: Chateau Beychevelle covers an area of 250 ha, of which 90 ha are planted with vines.  The closeness of the Gironde river, which can be seen from the front steps of the Château, has a protective, regulating effect on the climate that is vital for the production of exceptional wines.  The vineyard is planted with 52% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 3% Petit Verdot.  Plant density is about 8,300 to 10,000 vines/ha.  On average, the vines are 30 years of age.

The Soil: The terroir consists of deep Garonne gravel from the Gunzian period, ideal for Cabernet Sauvignon.

Vinification: The wine of Chateau Beychevelle is vinified in a combination of temperature controlled, stainless steel, and concrete vats.  Malolactic fermentation takes place in tank.  It is then aged in an average of 50% new French oak barrels for about 18 months.

2009 Reviews: “The finest Beychevelle since the 2003 and probably since the 1982, Beychevelle’s 2009 is opaque purple in color, with a beautiful, floral nose intermixed with black currant fruit, licorice, cedar wood and Christmas fruitcake. Full-bodied yet still elegant and pure, this wine has velvety tannins, a broad, savory mouthfeel, and a very long finish. There is plenty of tannin behind the extravagant fruit, glycerin and texture of this wine, but it is largely concealed. This wine could actually turn out to be even better than my relatively conservative tasting note. Anticipated maturity: 2020-2042.”-93pts, Wine Advocate

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Château Bouscaut

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Overview

Château Bouscaut is one of the 6 Grands Crus Classés of Graves for both its white and red wines, in the Pessac-Léognan appellation. Sophie Lurton has been running Bouscaut, along with husband Laurent Cogombles for over 20 years.

Situated 34 m above sea level, Château Bouscaut’s vineyards spread out facing due south on the highest part of Cadaujac, a commune on the left bank of the Garonne River.

Château Bouscaut’s second-label wine is Les Chênes de Bouscaut. Château Lamothe-Bouscaut and Château Valoux are also part of the Bouscaut galaxy. They are all situated in the commune of Cadaujac.

History

Bouscaut’s vineyard has existed since the 17th century on the commune of Cadaujac, a Graves appellation at that time. Called Haut Truchon, it was renamed Château Bouscaut after the name on the land register in 1881 .

The various owners throughout the twentieth century were very dedicated to improving and transforming both the vineyard and the château. In the thirties, the domain was cited as being a model estate by the Chamber of Agriculture and a race horse called Château Bouscaut won first prize in the coveted Maisons Lafitte race. In the same period, a tower was added to the main residential building and cellars were erected next to it.

The winner of many medals, the wines of Château Bouscaut were widely recognized. Consecration came in 1953, when Bouscaut was awarded the envied status of Graves Cru Classé, for both its white and red wines.

In 1962, the château was completely destroyed by a fire while the cellars remained untouched. The owner, Victor Place, oversaw its reconstruction, to the exact original plans, before selling it to a group of investors from New York in 1968. The new owners brought in the directors of Haut-Brion to manage it.

Bouscaut was then acquired in 1979 by Lucien Lurton, a well known Bordeaux winemaker who already owned at least ten other prestigious châteaux in appellations such as Margaux (Brane-Cantenac) or Barsac (Climens),…. This passionate viticulturist recognized the potential and exceptional terroir of Château Bouscaut.

Sophie Lurton, Lucien’s daughter has been looking after Bouscaut since 1992. Laurent Cogombles, her husband, an agronomist, has also been very involved since 1997. Laurent  is also the current President of the Appellation Pessac-Léognan.

 

Today, Château Bouscaut continues its journey, led with enthusiasm and innovation by its owners and team.

Château Bouscaut has recently joined a program of environmentally friendly practices.

Wine tourism is permanently evolving with various workshops available to do and the house at Château Valoux has been available for rental since 2011.

The Vines

The majority of the vines are red, covering 47 hectares, consisting of 55% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 5% Malbec.  The remaining 7 hectares are divided equally between Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Overall, there is a vine density of 7,200 vines/ha.  The average age of the vines is 40 years -although there are some that are over a hundred years old.

Vinification

The harvest is manually picked and put into small baskets, followed by temperature controlled fermentation (24-28ºC) in stainless steel and cement vats for the reds, and a cooler ferment (18-22ºC) in oak barrels (50% new) for the whites.  The reds will see up to 18 months in oak, the whites up to a year with regular bâtonnage.


Chateau Bouscaut

Pessac-Léognan Rouge

Appellation: Pessac-Léognan

Owners: Sophie Lurton & Laurent Cogombles

Average Age of the Vines: 35 years old

Soil: Clayey-calcareous and gravel

Varietal Blend: Merlot 48%; Cabernet Sauvignon 42%; Malbec 10%

Average Production: 40 hl/ha

Alcohol Content: 14.5%

Vinification: Fermented in stainless steel and concrete tanks, aged in oak barrels (45% new oak)

Food Pairings: Enjoyable with game birds, various meats, and soft cheese such as a good Camembert.

2009 Reviews: “Impressive dusty tannins offer a structured counterpoint to the deliciously ripe fruits and sweet berry flavors that stand out in this wine. It has great concentration as well, a powerhouse of firm structure and gorgeous fruit.”-92pts, Wine Enthusiast

“This is packed with maduro tobacco, espresso and baker’s chocolate flavors, joined by dark currant and plum fruit, but the edges are sleek and the finish nicely woven with roasted alder and bay notes. This shows nice range, and should blossom with mid-term cellaring.”-91pts, Wine Spectator

2008 Reviews: “Grapey, with green coffee bean and dried spice character on the nose. Medium- to full-bodied, with silky tannins and a pretty finish.”-88pts, Wine Spectator

2006 Reviews: “Complex yet subtle aromas of meat, mushroom, berries and tobacco. Full-bodied, with velvety tannins and lovely fruit. Not an opulent wine, but balanced, with everything in the right place. Best after 2011. 6,665 cases made.”-90pts, Wine Spectator

“An attractive, balanced, drinkable wine that is soft in texture, almost ready to drink now. The pure black currant fruits are fresh and bright, with light wood flavors.”-88pts, Wine Enthusiast

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Les Chenes de Bouscaut Rouge

Les Chênes de Bouscaut Pessac-Léognan Rouge

Appellation: Pessac-Léognan-Grand vin de Graves (Bordeaux)

Town: Cadaujac

Owners: Sophie Lurton & Laurent Cogombles

Soil: Clay on limestone bedrock

Average Age of Vines: 35 years

Average Production: 40 hl /ha

Varietal Blend: 72% Merlot; 28% Cabernet Sauvignon

Vinification: Stainless steel tanks and concrete with temperature control by water circulation

Food Pairings: Seafood such as sole, bar, saint-pierre, cabillaud, salmon, trout, etc. White meat such as poultry, veal, sweetbreads. Roasted or braised red meat. Cheeses with character, refined with strong aromas. Hard cheeses like cantal, tomme, and comté.

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Les Chenes de Bouscaut Blanc

Les Chênes de Bouscaut Pessac-Léognan Blanc

Appellation: Pessac-Léognan

Owners: Sophie Lurton & Laurent Cogombles

Age of the Vines: 35 years

Terroir: Clayey-calcareous and gravel

Varietal Blend: Sauvignon 60%; Semillon 40%

Average Production: Approximately 10,000 bottles per year

Alcohol Content: 13.5%

Vinification: Fermentation and aging in oak barrels with batonnage

The Harvest: It started on track with the Sauvignon Blanc on 5th September. About twenty harvesters were toiling away with the Bouscaut staff, all under the direction of our vineyard manager, Manual Da Paixao. The ripe Sauvignon grapes were selectively picked in stages as the ripening was uneven in the blocks. On the 20th we harvested the Semillon and finished the Sauvignon Blanc (third passage in the vines). Cold skin soak before going down into the barrels to ferment. We picked the last Semillons on Wednesday 26th September. The quality appeared to be really good this year.

2012 Reviews: “This has an intense beam of tarragon, with a core of lemon zest, straw and salted butter that stretches out through the lively finish.”-89pts, Wine Spectator

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Chateau Branaire-Ducru

logoThe Estate

Originally a part of the Chateau Beychevelle estate but separated in the 1600s, Chateau Branaire-Ducru takes its name from Jean Baptiste Braneyre who purchased it in 1680 from the Duluc family, as well as from Gustave Ducru, owner of the estate in the 19th century.  The crowns on the wine labels memorialize the last Duluc family members to own the estate: a marquis, a viscount, a count, and a countess.  Branaire-Ducru is tucked away in the southeastern most part of the St. Julien appellation.  The estate is a 60 ha property, and is close neighbours with Beychevelle, which lies between Branaire-Ducru, the Gironde, and Château Saint-Pierre.  The vineyards run west-east in several plots close to the château, over typical Médoc soils composed of quaternary alluvial gravel.  Château Branaire-Ducru is a member of the Bordeaux Union of Grands Crus, of Médocʼs Council of Crus Classés and of the Bordeaux Wine Academy, and was awarded fourth growth classification in 1855.

The Vines

The vineyard is planted with 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, and 3% Cabernet Franc with the average age of the vines approaching 35 years (there are many vines closer to a century old). The plantation density is between 6,700-10,000 vines/ha. Sustainable viticulture system; traditional ploughing between the rows, depending on soils and the behavior of the vines.  Trellising and canopy management according to vineyard density and soil composition.  New vineyards are planted with vines selected in the old vineyards and produced in the nursery.  The entire vineyard is harvested by hand; harvest date for each plot is based on phenolic analysis and berry tastings.

Vinification

The harvest is manual, and fermentation takes place in a modern, well-equipped cellar.  The must and juice is fed into the cellar by gravity rather than pump to begin its fermentation process in stainless steel tanks at a temperature of about 26-28 °C.  Maceration lasts about 3 weeks, a period of time determined by tastings and adapted to each tank.  This is followed by aging in oak barrels for 16-20 months with 60-65% new oak.  The wood for the barrels is selected in various french forests according to their flavor and tannins.  Traditional racking without pumping over.  Fining in barrels with egg whites.  All the steps in the winemaking and maturation process are aimed at expressing the potential of the grapes as well as the terroir, creating a wine where fruit and aromatic complexity go hand in hand with richness and balance, without any over extraction or heaviness.

Wines and Production

The grand vin of the estate is Château Branaire-Ducru (15,000 cases/year).  The second wine, Château Duluc, named for the Duluc family, has an annual production of 7,000 cases.  Total production per year is about 350,000 bottles.  Proportions between first and second wines are determined by blend tastings and depend on the vintage.  Grape vines under 15 years old are used in the second wine.  The consumer can start drinking Château Branaire-Ducru about 5-10 years after the harvest and keep it 15-20 years or more according to the richness and the power of the vintage.  Duluc de Branaire-Ducru will be ready to drink 3-5 years after the harvest.  It can also be stored longer, again depending on the richness of the vintage.

Owner: Family group managed by Patrick Maroteaux, purchased in 1988

Winemaker: Jean-Dominique Videau

Consulting Oenologist: Jacques & Eric Boissenot

Vineyard Area: 60ha, producing 300,000-350,000 bottles; Maroteaux has increased size of vineyard by 10 ha since purchase

Soil: Deep quaternary gravel with a clay subsoil

Grape Varietals: 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 3% Petit-Verdot

Average Age of the Vines: 35 years

Rootstock: 101/14, 3309 Riparia Gloire

Plantation Density: 6,700-10,000 vines/ha


 

duluc-de-branaire-ducru

Duluc de Branaire-Ducru

*Second wine of Chateau Branaire-Ducru*

First Production: 1998

Average Age of Vines: Under 15 years

Grape Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit-Verdot

Alcohol Content: 12.5%

Vinification: Stainless steel tanks with temperature control.  Size of tanks adapted to size of vineyard plots.  Tanks are filled using gravity.  First modern winery to use the old-fashioned gravity flow system starting in 1991.

Fermentation Temperature: 26-28 °C

Maceration: 3 weeks, determined by tastings and adapted to each tank.  The blending is early, before the end of February following the harvest.

Maturation: Aging in oak barrels for 16-20 months with 60-65% new oak.  Wood is selected from various French forests according to its flavor and tannins.  Light toasting respecting the wineʼs fruit and aromatic purity.  Traditional rackings without pumpings.  Fining in barrels with egg whites.

Tasting Notes: Velvety, ruby red color.  On the nose, the fruity texture is suave and expressive, supported by notes of spice and smoke.  The palate mirrors the notes in the bouquet; the texture is velvety with distinct tannins.

Food Pairings: Pairs well with meat such as quail and veal, and cheeses like Brie or Tomme.

Serving Temperature: 18°C

Cellaring Potential: Now until 2024

 

Château Brane-Cantenac

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Overview

Château Brane-Cantenac is a winery in the Margaux appellation of the Bordeaux wine region of France. The wine produced here was classified as one of fifteen Deuxièmes Crus (Second Growths) in the original Bordeaux Wine Official Classification of 1855. The estate also produces a second wine named Baron de Brane, a label named Château Notton, and a generic Margaux.

 

 

History

« Vineyards are stamped with the will of men. Begun 250 years ago, Brane-Cantenac’s legend is the tale of a thriving relationship between man and earth, which grows stronger as the ages go by. Named ‘Hostein’ in the 18th Century, this great wine estate was bought by the Gorce family, and produced one of the Medoc’s most renowned wines long before the 1855 classification. As for our 2nd wine, Baron de Brane, its name pays hommage to the famous Baron Jacques-Maxime de Brane, the ’Napoléon des Vignes’, owner of the property in the 19th Century. For the past four generations the Lurton family has been at the helm, devoted wardens who continue to ensure that the property flourishes, producing wines of the greatest quality. Since 1992, Henri has continued the journey that his father and ancestors began. Although a proponent of innovation and new technology, Henri is careful never to lose sight of the traditional values that remain an inherent part of Brane’s identity. Above all, he is proud of the unique terroir, and recognises the need to treat the soil, vines and grapes with immense respect as he carefully steers Brane’s future course. »

The Terroir

The vineyards amount to 75 hectares in the Margaux appellation. Broadly speaking, the mapping process describes three main terroirs; the first and the most valued is a large sweep of gravel in front of the château at the top of the Margaux-Cantenac plateau, the Plateau de Brane has a thick layer of surface gravel, which provides both radiant heat to the vines as well as excellent drainage. The second section is centred around and behind the château, here there is still gravel, but a higher proportion of sandy soil, and no clay. The third section is on the other side of the Route d’Arsac; this is La Verdotte, a 10-hectare vineyard planted 35 years ago; here the soil is a gravelly sand again. There is a fourth vineyard, Notton, a 13-hectare plot of coarse gravel over clay, and more distant from Brane-Cantenac than the other vines.

The vines are planted at densities up to 8,000 vines per hectare, and have an average age of 35 years. Cabernet Sauvignon covers 55% of the vineyard, with 40% Merlot, 4.5% Cabernet Franc and 0.5% Carmenère.

Vinification

At harvest time the fruit is picked by hand with typical yields around 45 hl/ha, and then transported in from the vines using the Air Tec system which cushions the fruit, protecting it from damage with its pneumatic suspension.  The freshly harvested fruit sees a cold soak, and unusually the team admit to using concentration methods in wet vintages, reducing the water content of the must by vacuum extraction at this time. The fermentation is induced by inoculation with yeast, and in the first few vats there may also be contemporaneous inoculation with malolactic bacteria. The fermentation is naturally temperature controlled, and may last between 7 and 10 days, and as it progresses the wine can see a lot of handling, not only pumping over but sometimes pigeage and even délestage. The fruit will see a maceration lasting between 20 and 30 days before pressing using two pneumatic presses, and both the free-run and press wines are then fed into barrels, using 60-70% new oak, ready for malolactic fermentation.


Baron de Brane

Baron de Brane

Overview: The name of the second wine honors Baron Hector de Brane, who owned the estate in the 19th century. Blended from vats carefully selected for their suppleness, it is aged just like the First Wine, but for a 12-month period.

Harvest Dates: 27th September – 14th October

Average Yield: 41 hl/ha

Percent of First Wine Produced: 33

Varietal Blend: 53% Cabernet Sauvignon, 47% Merlot

Barrel Aging: 12 months in 20% new French oak

Cellaring Potential: 10-15 years. At its best from 2015 onwards.

Tasting Notes: Attractive dark red hue with a highly aromatic nose typical of Margaux. In the mouth, a tight, smooth attack with a very fine balance of delicateness and soft, rounded tannins.

Vintage Summary: The 2010 vintage is uncannily similar to the previous vintage: a dry year but with water reserves that had been replenished the previous fall. The cool nights of a pleasant summer imparted full aromatic expression and unusually high levels of phenolic compounds.

The climate in 2010 corresponded marvelously to Brane’s terroir. The plateau’s clay-like gravel subsoil can give the vines the humidity the grapes need to mature in conditions of extreme dryness. Aromatic expression also being a major quality of this terroir, it was particularly rich at Brane this year. The severity of the blend may seem surprising but it was the key to a perfect balance.

2010 Reviews: “Bright and intensely floral, with a lovely violet aroma and long, rich plum sauce, blackberry and currant notes. There’s lush toast, but it’s nicely integrated. Very suave.”-92pts, Wine Spectator


Margaux de Brane

Margaux de Brane

Varietal Blend: 57% Merlot, 43% Cabernet Sauvignon

Average Yield: 44.8 hl/ha

Aging: 12 months in cellar

Cellaring Potential: 5-10 years; at its best from 2017 onwards

Winemaker Notes: “Very expressive nose, bursting with strawberry and cherry aromas, with floral and vanilla hints. Sweet and subtle attack on the palate, very round bodied, with a velvety texture and a long aromatic finish. Charming wine with a lot of freshness and lovely soft tannins.”

2014 Vintage Summary: “Two elements helped the Cabernet Sauvignon to reach the level of a great vintage in 2014 : the grapes grew less after the rain in the summer and they began ripening earlier. The extension of the ripening cycle, due to their growth stopping earlier than the Merlot, allowed them to benefit magnificently from the sunny late summer season. The high quality Merlot from the plateau, incorporated in smaller quantities than usual, provided an excellent complement to the blend bringing roundness and aromatic richness.”

Château Brown

 

History

The history of BROWN goes back almost one thousand years, with traces of vines here as early as the 12th century. Château Brown owes its name to a rich Scottish wine trader, John Lewis Brown, who settled in Bordeaux shortly after the Revolution, in 1795. In 1884, at the Amsterdam Universal Exhibition, Château Brown won a gold medal alongside Château Mouton, Château Leoville-Poyferré, Château Pontet Canet… Then, through the decades and successive owners, the estate had moments of glory and of oblivion through to the 1930s. Despite its long history among the great Bordeaux wines, it was only at the end of the 20th century that Château Brown was finally restored to glory. Guided by cereals-industry businessman Bernard Barthe, who became its owner in 1994, the estate undertook a genuine renaissance with a programme of considerable investments in the vines and facilities.

To make a name in the Pessac-Léognan appellation and among the prestigious wines of Bordeaux more generally was the ambition of the Mau family when it bought the estate at the end of 2004, in association with Dutch businessman Cees Dirkzwager. Following in the footsteps of the previous owner, Jean-Christophe Mau conducted a quality-focused strategy and succeeded in winning over wine critics and the national and international press, while working to control distribution of his wines on the Bordeaux marketplace – the traditional distribution circuit for Bordeaux Grands Crus.

Today, as Jean-Christophe Mau celebrates his tenth vintage in 2014, the quality of his work is lauded by all for its professionalism and consistency from one vintage to the next. The white wines of Château Brown feature among the best in Bordeaux while the reds are safe bets among the Bordeaux Grands Crus and widely recognized as flagships of the Pessac-Léognan appellation.

The Terroir

In the Northern Graves – the oldest winegrowing terroir in Bordeaux dating back 2,000 years – Château Brown lies in the heart of the Pessac-Léognan appellation.

Bordered by vast forests and built-up areas (the towns of Gradignan, Villenave d’Ornon and Léognan), the vineyards enjoy a micro-climate that is ideal for the grape ripening process and therefore the quality of the wine.

Château Brown covers some 59 hectares, including 29 hectares of vines in a single stretch: 24.5 hectares for reds and 4.5 ha for whites. For the red wines, the vineyard comprises a majority of Cabernet Sauvignon (55%) and Merlots (40%), plus 5% of Petit Verdot. The varieties on the plots dedicated to white wines are 70% Sauvignon and 30% Semillon.

The vineyard is planted with a density of 7,400 vines per hectare on two gravel ridges, one in the northern half of the estate and one in the south, rising to a height of 23m. The highest plots of deep gravel with the very best drainage and exposure to the sun are dedicated to Cabernet Sauvignon, while Merlot is planted on the clay-gravel soils. The vines reserved for making white wines are planted on the soils with the most sand and clay.

The terroir as a whole comprises a majority of fine gravel mixed in with alios, a sandy soil with iron. Château Brown has been actively engaged since 2012 in a sustainable agriculture process, gradually introducing an Environmental Management System into its daily work, and in July 2014 was awarded ISO 14 001 registration. Reduced use of plant protection products and the installation of bee hives alongside the vines are two examples of this.

The BROWN vineyard is constantly evolving: each plot is drained and examined with care before being replanted. This focus on excellence also applies to all the work on the vines, which is adapted with care to each vintage: ploughing is given preference over use of weed-killers to enhance aeration of the soils and encourage deep vine root development, thus avoiding water stress in very hot years. Yields are controlled and limited to 42 hectolitres per hectare for reds and 38 for whites (ten-year average). These yields and the good health of the vines are the result of work carried out throughout the vegetation cycle of the vine, again adapted to the conditions of the vintage: pruning, bud removal, leaf stripping and green harvesting.

The grapes are harvested by hand, of course, using small trays, sometimes in several successive operations as the grapes reach perfect ripeness. Red and white grapes alike are sorted on the vines by the fifty-or-so harvesters employed each year.

Vinification

The reds are sorted twice by an average of 6 workers: once to sort the bunches before de-stemming, then once on the vibrating table to eliminate any grapes that are not up to standard, along with any leaves or petioles that still remain. This sterling work is repeated each year to ensure that the wines are perfectly respectful of the fruit. Plot selection among the 29 hectares on the estate allocates an average of 70% of the harvest to the Grand Vin (80,000 bottles of red, 20,000 bottles of white) and 20% to the second wine. The grapes for the second wine are identified plot by plot, picked by hand just like those for the Grand Vin, and enjoy the same lavish care in vineyard and winery alike: harvesting by hand, careful sorting in the vathouse, maturing in French oak barrels…

In the winery, some thirty small-capacity temperature-controlled vats (between 50 and 130 hL) are used to vinify the grapes variety by variety, plot by plot, with cutting-edge temperature control. Each batch is vinified separately for greater precision. The duration of pre-fermentary maceration is adjusted to the various batches, varying between 2 and 5 days. Alcoholic fermentation is handled gently without addition of any yeast – it is the estate’s indigenous yeast that does all the work. On average, some wine is run off from each vat once.

Maceration varies between 25 and 35 days, according to the batches and the tannin quality of the vintage. Elegance is the aim, so cap punching is prohibited, although the wine is pumped over regularly to extract fruit and tannin.

Malolactic fermentation is carried out in vats, and also in new barrels for 40% of the volume. The wine is then matured in barrels for an average of 15 months, using 40% of new barrels. Château BROWN matures its white and red wines exclusively in French oak barrels. The whites go into barrels from alcoholic fermentation and stay there on the fine lees for 8 to 10 months. The lees are stirred weekly almost throughout maturing to keep them in suspension and reveal the best of the aromas. The reds will pursue their maturing for 13 to 15 months in barrels, 40% in new barrels, 40% in one-wine barrels and 20% in two-wine barrels. The batches are tasted regularly to decide on the final blend. It is only at the end of maturing that the wines will be blended, with all the precision of Jean-Christophe Mau and Bruno Patrouilleau, for both red and white.

The rosé will be matured in one-wine barrels in our wine-cellar for a duration of 4 months, with slight stirring of the lees.


Pessac Léognan

Overview: The 2012 Brown red vintage has a higher acidity than usual, a very fruity nose, a mouth with moderate amplitude, and a silky tannic structure. This vintage has a deep colour, and a beautiful acidity, with a medium alcohol level in the Bordeaux’s wine style.

Grape Varietals: 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 46% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot

Average age of the vines: 20 years old

Yield: 45 Hl/Ha

Production: 80.000 bottles

Maturation: 100% in French oak barrels: 1/3 new, 1/3 used once, 1/3 used twice. Matured for 12 – 15 months

Tasting Notes: Fresh and delicate in the nose. The bouquet develops scents of black fruit such as burlat cherry along with pleasing smoky notes thanks to a carefully controlled maturing process. On the palate the attack is big and smooth. This is a massive, long-lasting wine with fine, supple tannins. It will reach its peak in a few years’ time.

2012 reviews:

« Nicely packed, with energetic flavors of blackberry cobbler, blueberry paste and boysenberry coulis, carried by a brambly structure and pushed by anise and ganache accents on the finish. Shows solid grip and should do well with cellaring. This has added some weight since the barrel tasting. Best from 2017 through 2022. 6,415 cases made. » -91pts, Wine Spectator

« This wine is dark, textured and full of ripe fruit. Not yet balanced, it still shows more wood than fruit, but all elements are coming together to give a full-bodied, wood-aged wine. Drink from 2020. » -90pts, Wine Enthusiast

2010 reviews:

« Château Brown continues its impressive push to quality with this fine 2010. It brings demonstrates the structure of the year with firm, youthful tannins. But it also shown plentiful black-currant flavor, layered with acidity. Classic and serious, this is a wine for aging. » -92pts, Wine Enthusiast

« Shows good range, with currant, tangy iron and sanguine notes. Turns plush, with a tarry hint on the finish. Displays density, but stays pure. » -92pts, Wine Spectator

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Château Calon-Ségur

CALON SEGUR

Overview

The Bordeaux wine property Calon-Ségur was named after a small river skiff used in the Middle Ages to ferry timber across the Gironde estuary. This eventually inspired the name of the district which was at one point known as Calones or St. Estèphe de Calon.

Historic records show the estate was in existence as far back as 1147 when it was owned by Monseigneur de Calon, an important bishop in the community. Eventually, the Medoc property came to be owned by Nicolas Alexandre de Ségur.  After being passed from generation to generation, the estate became the property of the famous Marquis de Ségur. Marquis de Ségur was an important figure, not only for his ownership of the better Bordeaux estates of the day (Lafite and Latour), but for his long-lasting impact on the estate.  He is quoted as saying “I make my wine at Lafite and Latour, but my heart is in Calon.” That famous phrase lives on in the label of Chateau Calon-Ségur, where the drawing of a heart is prominently featured on the logo.

Château Calon-Ségur was once one of the original three Bordeaux wine vineyards in St. Estèphe. In 1825, Château Montrose was a parcel of forest belonging to the Calon-Ségur estate, similar to its near neighbor-Phelan Ségur-which was also once part of the great Ségur estate. Those holdings were so vast they included not only Lafite, but also Latour and Mouton! This was in the 18th century, at which point Calon-Ségur was already an ancient estate, having been in existence for at least five hundred years.

The modern era for Chateau Calon-Ségur began in 1894 when its Medoc vineyards were purchased by Georges Gasqueton and Charles Hanappier. The Gasqueton family managed the estate until 2012. More recently, the figurehead of Calon-Ségur was the charming, albeit eccentric, Madame Denise Gasqueton. She ran the estate while marching to the beat of her own drum until she passed away at the age of 87 in late September 2011. The following year, in July of 2012, Chateau Calon-Ségur was sold for 170 million euros, or approximately 215 million dollars. The buyer was the large French Insurance company, Suravenir.  Jean-Pierre Moueix, the owner of Petrus and the massive negociant company Duclot, took a minority stake in Chateau Calon-Ségur.

The style of Calon-Ségur wine is masculine and sturdy. It is tannic, structured, and traditional in its textures with a brawny body that often takes over a decade or two to become civilized.

The 131 acre Saint-Estephe vineyard of Calon-Ségur is one of the few remaining walled-in vineyards of the entire Bordeaux appellation.  The vines are on average about 35 years of age, and are composed of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 15% Cabernet Franc grapes.  The soils are a mixture of gravel, clay, and sand. Production for Chateau Calon-Ségur is, on average, close to 20,000 cases per year. There is a second wine, Marquis de Calon. The owners also control a cru bourgeois property, Chateau Capbern Gasqueton.


Chateau Calon-Ségur Saint-Estèphe

Chateau Calon-Segur


Marquis de Calon Saint-Estèphe

Marquis de Calon

Château Camensac

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History

Jacques Merlaut came from a bourgeois Bordeaux family, who kept themselves rather far from the vine. In the image of Mauriac, they were more active in the judiciary and the exploitation of the Landes forest. So Jacques started by reading law. Not judging this to hold much excitement for the future, he changed direction and entered HEC, a prestigious French Business School. At the time, the French were drinking 350 litres per person per year. Jacques became a dealer in « plonk », a not very agreable expression referring to someone who sells wine without really caring much about quality. But France was thirsty.

Naturally, his offices were in Bercy, an enclave of Paris on the banks of the Seine dedicated to this type of trade. The volumes traded gave this area an exciting « trading floor » atmosphere.

Jacques had lots of fun and made a very good living. Among his friends was a very talented man of Spanish origin, with whom be got on well. Later, each returning to his roots, the first created the Taillan group, made up of several merchants in France including Ginestet in Bordeaux, backed by 450 hectares in the Médoc consisting of classed growths and the like (Chasse-Spleen and Gruaud-Larose among others). The second, Enrique Forner, created Marques de Caceres, the benchmark for Rioja throughout the world.

Jacques was a visionary. In the light of the seventies, he sensed that consumption trends would change to favour quality over quantity, to say nothing of the health concerns implicit in heavy individual wine consumption, which would be sure to be raised by the authorities. He invested in different properties and merchant in Bordeaux and encouraged his Spanish friend to join him there. To show the sincerity of his invitation, he proposed taking 25% of a classed growth that was on the market, the rest being reserved for his friend : Camensac. This was in 1964. Enrique Forner therefore became owner of Château de Camensac, situated in the commune of Saint-Laurent-du-Médoc, an 1855 growth in the Haut-Médoc.

The two families remained in business together until Enrique decided in 2005 to withdraw from Bordeaux, and entrusted the future of the château to two members of the Merlaut family. Jean, son of Jacques, and Céline Villars-Foubet, his granddaughter. Before this, there is little information about the successive owners of Camensac. We know that a family of English origin, the Popps, held it at the time of the classification. That a noble family, de la Grandière de Tournadre, held it until its purchase by a wine merchant family from the north of France, the Cuveliers, who today own Léoville Poyferré. It was they who sol dit to Forner. Note that the first maps of France in the 17th century already reported a farmhouse at the site of the château, probably a dependency of the fiefdom of Lamarque.

The Terroir

The stones that make up the bulk of the Médoc gravel soil rolled down from the mountains feeding the Garonne, the Dordogne and their tributaries. The Gironde, where these two rivers flow out, much larger than today, deposited them on limestone or clay – limestone soil when the Quaternary ice age contracte dit and reduced its bed. Their spread, prevented on the right bank by relief, was entirely on the left, the Médoc, where they encountered no rough patches. The drop in the river uncovered two deposits of gravel. The oldest (tertiary), logically furthest from the bank, eroded by a few thousand more years, is composed of fine gravel mixed with coarse sand. It is called « Villafranchian ». The most recent (Quaternary) is made of a mass of thicker and orangey (ferrous) stones, called Gunz Gravel.

The north-east side of the mound of Camensac, at 23 metres, marjs the end of the layer of Gunz gravel which starts in Saint-Julien. It fades away before covering the Villafranchian gravel. It is the same as that found in Pessac-Léognan. Now these two types of soil combine their strenghts in the wine of Camensac, producing a certain north Médoc minerality and the floral accents of Pessac.

Owners: Céline Villars-Foubet & Jean Merlaut
Acreage: 75 Ha
Soil: Fine and Deep gravels on chalky clay substratum
Grape Varieties: 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot
Planting density: 10.000/Ha
Average age of the vines: 20 years old
Cultivation: Traditionnal method and mechanical way. Hand grapes picking.
Ageing: in barrels up to 18 months with 50% new oak barrels each year.
Average production: 200-300,000 bottles


Haut Médoc 5th Growth

Overview: The colour is deep purple. The wine is very neat and simple. Before stirring : aromas of fresh rose and cherry with notes of black pepper are displayed. After stirring : these aromas neatly gain in strenght. The attack is straightforward. The wine is blessed with a silky structure and is smooth on the palate. The finish is very long and tasty.

Grape varietals: 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 50% Merlot

Aging: 17-20 months in French oak barrels (35 to 70% new)

2010 reviews: « This has weight, dark tannins, very taut and mineral. Spice comes from the wood. » -90pts, Wine Enthusiast

2012 reviews: « This is a concentrated wine that’s very full in the mouth and shows its structure right up front. It has acidity and some juiciness, but the fruit is still very suppressed by the dryness. », -90pts, Wine Enthusiast

 

 

 

Château Cantemerle

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The Estate

The origins of Chateau Cantemerle date back to the Middle Ages; documents from the year 1354 reveal that viticultural production was a major aspect of the estate almost from the very beginning.  It wasn’t until the 15th century, however, that wine making became the main industry of Cantemerle.  Ownership of the Chateau changed hands many times over the centuries, from the Villeneuve de Durfort family in 1579, to the Dubos family in 1892.  Today, it covers an area of about 90 hectares and is managed by SMABTP Group, one of the first insurance companies to take possession of a vineyard in Bordeaux.

The Soil

The soils of Cantemerle are a combination of silica and gravel which are the result of erosion of the Pyrenees by the Garonne 1,000 years ago.  These soils have excellent filtration and good heat absorption, however they are poor in nutrients, resulting in hardy vines that produce grapes of high concentration.

The Vines

Cantemerle is planted with vines on average about 30 years old; 60% are Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Petit Verdot.  Since the vines have to send their roots down deep into the soil in order to obtain the nutrients they require, the resulting grapes and wine express the terroir on an intimate level.

Vinification

There is a green harvest, and leaf thinning is practiced, with eventual yields up to 55 hl/ha.  Hand selection is done in the vineyard, using 4 sorting tables.  On arriving at the winery, the grapes are 100% destemmed before up to 30 days maceration and fermentation in conical wooden vats for the best parcels, stainless steel for the rest.  A practice unique to Cantemerle is selective devatting, by which only the middle section of the cap is pressed.  The upper layer, which includes oxidized grape matter, and the lower layers of pips and other materials, are not included.  The wine then sees a year or so in oak with 50% new barrels each year, and only a light fining-no filtration-before bottling.

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Wines and Production

The resulting grand vin is Château Cantemerle, with an annual production of about 25,000 cases.  In addition, there is a second wine, Les Allées des Cantemerle, of which 12,500 cases are typically produced.


Chateau-Cantermerle

Chateau Cantemerle 5ème Grand Cru Classé Haut-Médoc

Production Area: 87 ha

Soil: Silica and gravel of the quaternary era

Grape Varietals: 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc

Average Age of the Vines: 30 years old

Vine Density: 9,600 plants/ha

Pruning: Médoc double Guyot; deleafing, grape thinning

Harvest: Manual with selective sorting in the vineyard; green harvest

Vinification: Total destemming, followed by hand-sorting before crushing of grapes.  Fermentation lasts 6-8 days at a controlled temperature of 26-28C.  Maceration for 28-30 days.

Aging: 12 months in French oak barrels (50% new wood).  Ultra light fining is done prior to bottling, but no filtration

Annual Production: 300,000 bottles

Tasting Notes: Clean and lively, with leather and prune notes.  The structure is solid, with graceful tannins and volume on the palate.

Food Pairings: The Chateau Cantemerle is the perfect compliment to a grilled lamb chop


les allees de cantemerle

Les Allées de Cantemerle

Overview: This is the Second Wine of Chateau Cantemerle which is produced from the estate’s younger vines.  Its is made using the same methods as the Grand Vin, and has similar characteristics but a shorter aging potential.  This wine is made to be consumed within several years of the vintage.

Grape Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot,  Cabernet Franc

Vinification: Total destemming, followed by hand-sorting before crushing of grapes.  Fermentation lasts 6-8 days at a controlled temperature of 26-28C.  Maceration for 28-30 days.

Aging: 12 months in French oak barrels and vats.  Ultra light fining prior to bottling

Annual Production: 160,000 bottles

Tasting Notes: Consistently supple and elegant; Les Allées de Cantemerle has a full freshness and a delicate, pleasant fruitiness with notes of coffee and wild flowers.  Fine tannins, low acidity, and subtle aromas.

Cellaring Potential: To be consumed in its youth or within several years of its vintage

 

Château Cantenac Brown

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Cantenac Brown

Château Cantenac Brown Margaux

Production Area: 48 ha

Soil: Gravelly

Grape Varietals: 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc

Average Age of the Vines: 35 years old

Plantation Density: 8,500-10,000 vines/ha

Average Yield: 45 hl/ha

Pruning Method: Double Guyot; de-leafing, removal of secondary shoots, green harvest

Harvest: Manual harvest with 2 sorting operations (the first in the vineyard and the second before entering the vathouse)

Vinification: In temperature-controlled stainless steel vats.  Vatting lasts 15-25 days.  Malolactic fermentation occurs in barrels and vats.

Aging: In oak barrels for 12-15 months (50-70% new wood; 50-30% 1-year-old barrels).  Racking is carried out every 3 months. Fining is done using egg whites.

Annual Production: 11,000 cases


 

brio de cantenac brown

BriO de Cantenac Brown

Overview: BriO is Chateau Cantenac Brown’s second wine. All plots are meticulously observed throughout the growth cycle from budding to the analysis of grape ripeness. The batches that are used to make Brio are chosen largely as a result of these observations.

Production Area: 48 ha

Grape Varietals: 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 5% Cabernet Franc

Plantation Density: 8,500-10,00 plants/ha

Average Yield: 4,500 liters/ha

Pruning Method: Double Guyot; de-leafing, removal of secondary shoots, green harvest

Harvest: Manual harvest with 2 sorting operations (the first in the vineyard and the second before entering the vathouse)

Vinification: In temperature-controlled stainless steel vats.  Vatting lasts 15-20 days.  Malolactic fermentation occurs in barrels and vats.

Aging: In oak barrels for 12 months (20-25% new wood).  Racking is carried out every 3 months. Fining is done using egg whites.

Annual Production: 7,500 cases

Tasting Notes: Deep, garnet color with crimson highlights.  Nose of red fruit, vanilla, and oak.  Harmonious, full, and velvety on the palate; warm, well-balanced, and lively.  Seamless with a taut finish framed by freshness.

 

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