Starting the day (third day in Bordeaux) at Chateau Lestrille – it’s a smallish property in the Entre Deux Mers run by the young and talanted vigneronne Estelle Roumage. It’s a family property since a few generations. Today they make a range of wines of all colours, for example a quite substantial Bordaux Clairet, more colourful and substantial than many a red Alsace. The make a few different red cuvees, one of which they even age partially in American oak (not much though, perhaps some 10% so it’s in no way a major influence on the character. Certainly a good source for moderately priced Bordeaux wines. It will be interesting to follow the development of Estelle’s winemaking in the future.
Second stop on today’s itinerary: Chateau La Garde a property in the Pessac Leognan region, not one of the best known, but one that has undeergone lots of changes recently. It was bought some years ago by Dourthe (the Bordeaux negociant) and they have made substantial renovations and investments. E.g. a large part of the vineyard has had to be replanted. The latest new planting is experimental, with an exceptionally high planting density: 13500 vines per hectare. They also make a small quantity of white that is a 50/50 blend between sauvignon blanc and sauvignon gris. (Sauvignon gris is one of those varieties that it is a pity that we don’t see more of!) And to conclude the visit a splendid lunch with La Garde’s second wine La Terrasse, as well as le grand vin. Cote de Boeuf from Blonde d’Aquitaine beef and other nice things…
Rain invades southern Bordeaux during lunch and it makes for a gloomy entrance to Chateau Yquem, if that is possible. In spite of the drizzle Sandrine Garbay, Yquems chief winemaker takes us out into the vineyards to look at the budding wines. A new discovery: at Yquem as well as many other Sauternes chateaux, they use goble pruning! Not straight forward gobelet, but a variant that is called gobelet pallisse’, so, gobelet trained on a wire. Looks a bit like a chunky cordon actually. A visit to their magnificent (theatrical) cellar is followed by a tasting. As soon as the Yquem is poured in the glasses the sun emerges from behind the clouds. And not figuratively speaking but literally.
Pey Latour and Essence de Dourthe
Getting back to night camp at Pey Latour takes us through some of the pretty landscape in the Entre-deux-Mers. It’s a much prettier region than Medoc, much greener, more undulating, but of course less magnificent chateau, but they do have quite a few of their own.
Dinner at Pey Latour is accompanied by a tasting of a range of the Dourte wines, and we finish with the Essence de Dourthe. It’s an interesting concept that Dourthe first made in 2000: it’s a blend of the very best wine from each of their chateaux. Each of the Chateau that they run (six or seven) have two of their best hectares set aside as an Essence candidate and each year they make a selection of the very best barrels from the chateaux and make a blend of it. So in a way it is the top of the top of what Dourthe can do, trying to compete with the very top wines in the world. Appellation Bordeaux of course, since it’s a mix of Medoc, Graves, St Emilion etc. Certainly one of the most expensive AOC Bordeaux around, in the range of 85 euros. But indeed an outstandingly good wine.