To the south of Bordeaux city, near Cadillac, Château Ricaud boasts an exceptionally diverse array of soils. Impressed by its quality potential and the architectural splendour of the château, Alain Thiénot (of Champagne fame) bought the property in 1980 and has subsequently put in place a remodelling plan to transform the estate into a benchmark Loupiac and to create a Côtes de Bordeaux worthy of the finest wines.
Château de Ricaud Cadillac is a blend of 90% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Sauvignon & 2% Petit Verdot from vines with an average age of 25 years. The wine was vinified in temperature-controlled stainless steel, followed by ageing in oak barriques, 20% of which were new, for 12 months.
With its appealing dark ruby appearance, the wine is complex on the nose offering initial notes of strawberry and blackberry. Beautifully structured on the palate, full and generous with rounded, fleshy tannins. Perfectly integrated oak character accompanies the long, delicately spiced finish.
Run today by Claire Villars Lurton, daughter of the late Bernadette Villars, this has become one of Margaux’s best Cru Bourgeois.
The vineyards are situated just to the west of Château Margaux and cover 10 hectares. They are dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon (60%) with a lesser quantity of Merlot (35%) and a splash (5%) of Petit Verdot. The vines have an average age of 35 years.
The harvest is manual with careful grape selection both in the vineyards and at the winery. Fermentation, in stainless steel vats takes about three weeks followed by ageing for 12 months in oak barriques, 25% of which are new.
Châtea La Gurgue combines elegance with concentration giving wines with excellent fruit – blackcurrants and blackberries – supported by polished oak and gentle tannins.
Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe, established in 1891, has been run by the Brunier family for five generations. The estate’s vineyards are situated on the famous “Plateau de la Crau” the stony terrace where there is nothing but “galets roulés”, or rounded stones, as far as the eye can see. This special terroir imparts a highly distinctive minerality to the wines.
Télégramme comes from the younger vines of Vieux Télégraphe, less than 30 years old, and older parcels not located on the plateaux of La Crau or Piedlong. The blend is 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 6% Mourvèdre and 4% Cinsault. Ageing is in vats for 10 months followed by foudres for a further 7 months before bottling. The result is a delicious, fruit driven Châteauneuf du Pape which drinks very well in its youth.
Based in Chavanay, Lionel Faury makes lovely wines and has definitely moved his 17 hectare family domaine to the top of the first division of Northern Rhône growers.
The steeply terraced vineyards are on granite soils and have a south/south east aspect. The grapes (100% Viognier from vines in excess of 35 years old) are hand picked and taken to the winery where they are gently pressed in a pneumatic press to preserve the freshness and character of the fruit. Fermentation is in temperature controlled, stainless steel vats. Ageing is for 11 months with 30% of the wine going into new wood, 30% in 2-5 year old barrels and 40% kept in steel. Regular batonage (lees stirring) adds texture and character to the wine which is only lightly filtered before bottling.
The Condrieu “La Berne”, named after the previous owners of the land and refers to a specific plot where Lionel’s father first planted vines, it is wonderfully elegant & linear whilst maintaining a richness in texture. Pale straw in appearance the nose of the wine is fresh with aromas of white stone fruits, and a hint of citrus and vanilla. The palate is dry but rich and rounded with apricot and subtle peach flavours supported by an elegant acidity and minerality that leads to a long finish.
La Nerthe can trace its history back to 1561 making it one of the oldest estates in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
The 90 hectares (225 acres) of Château La Nerthe are certified as “Organic growing” from 1998 by Ecocert – the French organisation of organic certification.
In recent times, the purchase of the estate by the Ricard family in 1985 has allowed the true potential of this fine property to be realised. Since 2008 wine maker Christian Voeux has been in charge of production with the emphasis on modern, approachable Châteauneuf.
The grape varieties used at La Nerthe are: Grenache 53 %, Syrah 27 %, Mourvèdre 15 % and Cinsault 5 %, from vines with an average age of 40 years.
Traditional fermentation in cement tanks is followed by 12 months ageing in a mixture of oak barriques and much larger foudre.
Garnet red in appearance, the nose is red and black fruits with spice and leather – a really “warm” nose.
The palate is all spicy dark fruits with pepper and fine tannins.
The Sabon estate has 16 hectares of vineyards in some of the best sites of Châteauneuf – Les Cabrières, La Crau, Courthezon and Nalys, all with the “galets roulés” stones so typical of the area. The vines have a minimum age of 50 years, with 90-year-old vines being used for the Cuvée Prestige.
The wine making is today handled by Didier Negron, the son-in- law of the late Jean Jacques Sabon. The vineyards are managed by Jean Jacque’s brother Denis and his son Julien.
The fermentation takes place in small cement vats and small stainless steel cuves, with pumping over and a cuvaison which lasts for 20 days at a temperature of between 30° and 34°.
The wine is matured for between 16 and 18 months in foudres (4,000 litre) and used barriques, and receives neither fining nor filtration.
Grenache is the predominant grape blended with a range of other red grapes typical of the appelation – Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvedre, Terret, Counoise, Vaccarese and Muscardin.
Deep and brooding, this very complex wine has aromas and flavours of ripe red and black fruit, spices (cloves and pepper), mushrooms, and with age, truffles and old leather.
Michel Maret has now been joined by his two daughters, Véronique, helping with the wine making, and Caroline, running the office with Madame Maret.
Domaine de la Charbonnière has 12 hectares of prime vineyard in Châteauneuf-du-Pape and 4.5 in Vacqueyras – this is a serious, established, top quality Domaine.
The Cuvée Hautes Brusquières is made up of 40% Syrah and 60% Grenache, all from the Brusquière plateau, from vines aged between 30 – 50 years old.
The two varieties are vinified separately with the fermentation lasting up to 5 weeks in temperature controlled vats. The cap is punched down every other day and the wine is pumped over every day to maximise extraction and elegance in the finished wine.
Ageing is in large oak vats for up to 18 months.
The wine has a good deep red colour, with a nose full of ripe black and blue fruits and notes of spice, pepper and leather. The palate is full and powerful with gentle tannins, and ripe, zippy, pepper and fruit flavours.
The origins of this estate date back to the 17th century, but more recently, Bouscaut was acquired in 1979 by Lucien Lurton, a well known Bordeaux winemaker who already owned at least ten other prestigious châteaux throughout Bordeaux. Today the estate is run by Sophie Lurton, Lucien’s daughter and her husband Laurent Cogombles. Laurent is also the present president of the appellation Pessac-Léognan.
There are 47 hectares under vine. The red is a mix of 54% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot & 11% Malbec from 35 year old vines grown on clay, limestone and gravel soils.
The grapes were picked by hand and carefully sorted in the vineyard before arriving at the winery. Vinification was in a combination of concrete and stainless steel vats with ageing taking place for 18 months in oak, 40% of which was new.
Deep red in the glass, the nose is full of blackcurrant, cedar and liquorice aromas. The palate is rich and rounded with good fruit balanced by fine tannins and elegant acidity. The finish is long and persistent.
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