You can actually find a great many chateaux in Bordeaux in the middle price range, quite affordable. Some of them have joined together in joint marketing effort called le Grand Cercle des vins de Bordeaux. BKWine Magazine’s Wilhelm Arnör was at their presentation and found three chateaux that were particularly to his liking: Chateau Dalem, Chateau de Pressac and Chateau Tournefeuille.
I was at the Grand Cercle des vins de Bordeaux recently. An event mainly with producers who have no representation in Sweden. With very little time available, I found still at least three producers which I thought was extra exciting.
Here are my favourites.
Madame Rullier-Loussert from Chateau Dalem:
Chateau Dalem is very beautifully located on a hill in Fronsac from which one sees the two churches of St. Emilion and Pomerol. She took over the business from her father in 2003. He had many other irons in the fire while she has put more energy into the vineyard.
She brought with her three wines, including one from her father’s time, the 2001, and then 2010 and 2011. The wine her father made was a classic style, a very nice classic bordeaux in character with typical mature tones of stables, cedar and some chocolate.
Her own (more recent) wines were more densely packed fruit, plums, and more tannins (2010) a completely different style. She said she puts a lot more time into working in the vineyard than her father. She does everything manually including harvest and has three sorting table. She harvests very late to get as high a concentration as possible.
In her new wines 2012 and 2013, she has increased the amount of Cabernet Franc a bit. She has managed to sell the entire harvest already! But she recently bought more land and obviously wants to sell more, as she said, “I sell my wine in 20 countries but not yet in Sweden”. Chateau Dalem is a wine to follow the development of.
Monsieur Jean-Francois Quenin of Chateau de Pressac:
Monsieur Jean-Francois Quenin of Chateau de Pressac (St Emilion Grand Cru) told an interesting story. In the 1730s a new owner of Chateau de Pressac brought with him the Auxerrois grape from Cahors to the Chateau de Pressac. From there the grape spread rapidly across St Emilion and was sometimes called (Noir de) Pressac instead.
In the early 1800s a Sieur Malbek took same grape and introduced it to places also on the left bank of Bordeaux. Here instead it came to be called Malbec. With emigrants in the mid-1800s the grape came to Argentina where it suited the climate very well. When Bordeaux was hit by the great frost in 1956 Malbec suffered badly and it fell rapidly out of popularity.
Today, Cahors, from where it originally came, is still its stronghold. Chateau de Pressac has still about 4% of malbec and also use a bit of carmenère. But they have mainly 11% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Cabernet Franc and 65% Merlot.
I tried the Chateau de Pressac from 2007 (€ 13.5): rich in aroma with hints of minerals and red berries, elegant, soft beginning, nice moderate astringency with clear barrel character and long finish. Not a big wine but well made from a not very good year.
The same wine from 2011 (17 EUR) is slightly more perfumed, aromas of cherries, herbs, elegant taste, medium-bodied and above all balanced, consistent in flavour and taste.
I thought it interesting that they try to harvest when the grapes are fully ripe. They make a careful sorting of maturation stages, both based on appearance and density. They vinify also different parts of the vineyard separately. They monitor the process carefully. As soon as they think that they have extracted enough aromas and tannins they terminate the maceration.
Chateau de Pressac looks like a classic wine chateaux beautifully situated on a hill. It will definitely be an estate that I will visit next time I am in Bordeaux.
Monsieur Emeric Petit, Chateau Tournefeuille:
Chateau Tournefeuille will be my third recommendation. I knew in advance that the chateau would be represented so I had read up on it and was a bit curious about it. The owner, Emeric Petit, is involved in all aspects of the work himself, and represented the chateau at the Cercle des vins. He seemed equally sympathetic in reality as the impression I had when visiting the website. The father of five children aged 7-14 years, he gives really the impression that this wine enterprise is a family business.
They have four different wines and brands, a total of 37 hectares in Pomerol, St. Emilion and Lalande de Pomerol.
I tried their 2012 Chateau Tournefeuille, Lalande de Pomerol. It had a lovely perfume with gorgeous Floral notes, medium-bodied flavours of dark berries good tannins, with nice acidity that lingers. A truly sympathetic wine. The year had a beautiful summer and harvest was early.
The grape blend is for this wine 70/30, merlot / cabernet franc. I was not quite as impressed of the 2011 so I took no notes… but it was still a wine that charmed me!
And Mme Petit has a guest house or the whole house with five rooms and 10 beds for a week. Pourquoi pas?
Wilhelm Arnör writes on wine on BKWine Magazine. Wilhelm has been a dedicated wine enthusiast ever since he founded Vincollegiet, a still active wine tasting association at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm, in 1976. His day job is running a company in the IT business in Sweden.
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