Meet Nea Berglund, young and dynamic winegrower at Château Carsin in Bordeaux | Britt on Forbes

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When she was a teenager, Nea Berglund travelled from Finland down to Bordeaux to pick grapes at her father’s chateau at harvest time. Now she is in charge of the estate, lives here fulltime and, listening to her talking about her wines, she does not regret it. Nea does things differently, and so did her father. Château Carsin is not your typical Bordeaux chateau.

Nea’s father, Juha Berglund, bought Château Carsin in 1990. When I met him for the first time some 20 years ago, he told me he didn’t want to ”imitate” the traditional chateaux in the area. Instead, he ordered his winery equipment from Australia and hired a winemaker from that same country, Mandy Jones. She stayed for ten years and then went back to make wine in Australia. Many years later Nea went there to perfect her winemaking skills with Mandy during the 2015 harvest.

This article was originally published in a shorter version on Forbes.com.

Château Carsin is situated in the Côte de Bordeaux Cadillac appellation which is in the region of Entre-deux-Mers. Some excellent Bordeaux wines are made in this region. But it is not so prestigious, so the wines are less expensive and, as a bonus, the landscape is prettier than in most places in Bordeaux.

Nea Berglund in the amphora cellar at Chateau Carsin, Bordeaux
Nea Berglund in the amphora cellar at Chateau Carsin, Bordeaux, copyright BKWine Photography

Château Carsin has 20 hectares. Twelve hectares with red grapes, 8 with white grapes. Nea has most of the varieties grown in Bordeaux which means three white varieties and six red. She is one of the few in Bordeaux, maybe even the only one, who makes a red wine with all six permitted varieties: cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, carmenère, petit verdot and malbec. And she has the rare sauvignon gris.

She aims to make wine with character and as little intervention as possible. She harvests at best possible maturity. At the same time, she adds, having the right acidity is extremely important.

She is converting the whole estate to organics. 2020 is her second year of conversion. Since 2015 she has her own brand of wines as well, called Charivari. These are natural wines, although Nea prefers to call them authentic wines. For the Château Carsin wines, she keeps it a bit more traditional but the natural spirit is present there as well.

Chateau Carsin in Bordeaux
Chateau Carsin in Bordeaux, copyright BKWine Photography

“I don’t like new oak – my dad did – but old oak is fine if it is around five years on average.” Stainless steel is good at keeping the fruit, but she prefers to have a little bit of oxidation. “Barrel ageing is important for the ageing potential in bottle. You need oxygenation.”

An alternative is ageing in amphora and Nea has a few of them. “The amphoras are expensive to buy, but they last longer than oak barrels”, she says. “The good thing with amphoras is that the wines breaths like in an oak barrel, but you have no added aromas.

I tasted a 100 % carmenère that had been whole-bunch fermented and aged in amphora with no added sulphur. An amazing wine with an exceptional character, pure fruit, quite intense, aromas of white pepper, a bit of bell pepper. Very fresh and juicy.

The vineyards at harvest time at Chateau Carsin, Bordeaux
The vineyards at harvest time at Chateau Carsin, Bordeaux, copyright BKWine Photography

She makes three red wines, always with the natural yeast. She makes a strict selection of what goes into the tanks. At the sorting table, she has ten persons working during harvest. The fermentation tanks are small and punch down is made by hand.

The Rouge de Carsin is, says Nea, a merlot wine for any occasion. It is fruity and easily approachable (9.50 euro). The intensely fruity and yet elegant Château Carsin Cuvée Noir is the wines made from all six grape varieties. All are vinified separately. “Cabernet franc is always very concentrated”, she says. “Carmenère – I have one hectare – is not an easy grape but I learnt a few tricks from a teacher from Chile. Petit Verdot is interesting but the most difficult grape in Bordeaux, with thin, fragile skin and sensitive to mould. You have to do a green harvest to make sure the bunches don’t touch each other. And to harvest at the right time.” (16.50 euro)

Charivari L'Aventure Nocturen and Cuvee Noire from Chateau Carsin, Bordeaux
Charivari L’Aventure Nocturen and Cuvee Noire from Chateau Carsin, Bordeaux, copyright BKWine Photography

Château Carsin Terroir is 100 % merlot from her first organic plot. “This is a clay soil, very nice for merlot.” The wine stays six months in older oak barrels. No fining or filtration. Delicious with a good structure and freshness. (20 euro).

The whites of Carsin are particularly interesting. Juha Berglund was a great promotor of white Bordeaux and Nea continue in his footsteps.

For the whites, she sometimes adds cultivated yeast. “There is a risk with wild yeast, particular if there is some residual sugar.” She does whole bunch pressing and a debourbage (settling of the lees) for 24 hours.

Blanc de Carsin is a blend of sauvignon blanc and sémillon, pleasantly aromatic with a good body. “Here I want a fresh fruity style”, says Nea. ”For the balance, I pick sauvignon blanc a bit earlier and sémillon when it is fully ripe”. (8.50 euro),

Château Carsin l’Etiquette Grise is 100% sauvignon gris, a mutation of sauvignon blanc that was almost extinct some years ago. It is not the easiest grape because it is sensible to downy mildew and esca, the severe trunk disease, and the yield is small on top of that. But for quality wine, it is a fascinating grape with its taste of exotic fruit and white flowers. This wine also has a rich and creamy mouthfeel. “I look for perfect ripeness in the grapes, and the lees stirring (batonnage) gives concentration. This wine sells very well.” (12 euro)

I also recommend the Charivari wines if you come across them.

Charivari Le Fruit Defendu and L'Etiquette Grise from Chateau Carsin, Bordeaux
Charivari Le Fruit Defendu and L’Etiquette Grise from Chateau Carsin, Bordeaux, copyright BKWine Photography

Charivari L’Aventure Nocturne is 100 % merlot with approx. Twelve months ageing in amphora. Ripe and intense dark fruit, lovely texture and personality. (22 euro)

Charivari Le Fruit Defendu is a 100 % sauvignon blanc made in Burgundy-style (Nea admits she likes Burgundy). It is fermented in older oak barrels and aged in the same barrels for six months and bottled without fining or filtration. “No polishing”, says Nea. A creamy texture in the mouth, a hint of almonds, melon and peaches. An unusual but superb sauvignon blanc. (16 euro)

A lot of the export today is going to Finland. But Nea is starting to develop new markets, notably the UK and the USA.

This article was originally published in a shorter version on Forbes.com.



Travel: Join us on a wine tour to Bordeaux!



The amphora cellar at Chateau Carsin, Bordeaux
The amphora cellar at Chateau Carsin, Bordeaux, copyright BKWine Photography
The vineyards in springtime at Chateau Carsin, Bordeaux
The vineyards in springtime at Chateau Carsin, Bordeaux, copyright BKWine Photography

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