Some wine news from the Médoc!!!

And here I am again back at you with one of most fluid passions, wines. Of course not just any wine but the Médoc! And not just Bordeaux as if you have read my blog should know it is a genetic name covering a very large area north south, east of the city of Bordeaux! My favs are the Médoc! And a good timing with the events of the day!

And within this peninsula, one of my favorites over the years have been the Saint Julien. Therefore , here is some wine news on the ...Saint Julien!

The smallest and most family-run of the four great communal appellations of Médoc has eleven classified growths. Some are considered the most prominent at the moment. They cover 910 hectares and has 19 harvesting producers. Let’s take a ride shall we!!

End of the afternoon, at the Château de Beychevelle. The Gironde river sparkles. In the 17C, ships lowered their sails , bécha véla, in Gascon in honor of the owner, the Duke of Epernon, Grand Admiral of France and Governor of Guyenne. By the greatest of luck, its label adorned with a griffin-bow ship recalls the dragon boat, a sacred emblem in China. From Château Branaire-Ducru, located directly opposite, on the other side of the D2 road, the blond stones of the former stronghold of the Duke of Épernon illuminated in gold at sunset are at the height of the halo that adorns them every morning, a constantly renewed mystery. Since 1995, the owner ,the philosopher Philippe Blanc watched over the 250 hectares wirh 90 ha of vines of the Grands Millésimes de France property, owned equally by the French spirits groups Castel and Japanese Suntory.

Among which, Château Beychevelle and Château Lagrange, 3rd classified growth, also owned by the Suntory group, are the only ones not managed by a family. This does not prevent the cohesion of this AOC, very confraternal where everyone succeeds. Without lame ducks or failures.   Two of its neighbors, Château Léoville Barton and Château Branaire-Ducru have just hit the world wine column. The first elected Wine of the Year by Wine Spectator magazine, the second hoisted to 16th position in the same ranking in 2019. A first for fifteen years for Bordeaux Grands Crus, topping the stars of Napa Valley, Côtes-du-Rhône or Chianti. For Saint-Julien, a formidable consecration.

With its quadruple-column porch, the current building dates from 1824. It was built by one of Branaire’s descendants, Louis Duluc, who together with his brother Justin participated in the fame of the estate and its classification in 1855. They are the fourth family of owners said François Xavier, younger of the Maroteaux. François Xavier Maroteaux now manages the Château Branaire-Ducru on behalf of their family group. A vineyard with a majority of Cabernet Sauvignon (65%), Merlot (28%), Petit Verdot (5%) and Cabernet Franc (4%). The four noble grape varieties of Saint-Julien. New projects are being undertaken, including the construction of a 100% gravity-fed cellar with 65 tanks. But, he is also the spokesperson for his peers. Elected to the post left vacant by his father as President of the Management Organization (ODG) of Saint-Julien, where decisions are taken unanimously by the 19 properties, each counting as one vote, regardless of its size .

The Château Gloria was born artificially from this puzzle of prestigious lands. As a castle, a locality, the row of workers’ houses called “Gloria” at the entrance to the village. In 1982, the family acquired Château Saint-Pierre, a 4th classified growth. With its 17 ha, the smallest of the city/town hall for which the worldwide notoriety of Château Gloria has ironically in the life of the brands long served as a lever. It is so sometimes with names.

Who would have thought that the venerated Château Talbot (107 ha), named in honor of an English constable who took part in the Battle of Castillon in 1453 would benefit from one of these hazards in South Korea? However, it was enough that in 2002, Guus Hiddink, the coach of the national football team hoisted in the semi-finals of the World Cup, declared celebrating this feat with Château Talbot for the 3rd classified grand cru. Enough to roll the eyes of many there. At Talbot, in the extraordinary kitchen with trompe-l’oeil wood paneling, the plates are stuck to the ceiling. A joke on the part of Nancy Bignon-Cordier and her sister Lorraine Cordier, who died in 2011. Great-granddaughters of Désiré Cordier, they presided over the creation of the second wine, Connétable Talbot, in the 1970s and at the creation of a cellar with concrete beams in the shape of a ramage. Poetry maintained throughout the property. Wild grasses on the steps, vegetable garden, Virginia creeper on the facade, family furniture… Château Talbot was a vacation home for girls. And one of my all time favorites.

Nowadays, a panoramic tower with ultra contemporary lines has replaced the ancient earthenware treasure of Château Gruaud Larose. Highlight of the wine tourism offer of the 2e cru Classé in a rather reserved appellation in this area, the belvedere was inaugurated in 2015. It is the pride of its owner Jean Merlaut and its managing director, Nicolas Sinoquet. Culminating at 18 meters in height, the mirror-stainless steel building with a glass elevator reflects the variations of the Medoc azure. At a glance, you embrace the 82-hectare vineyard in one piece, but also the panorama extending to the Gironde river. At the foot of the tower, the ponds and lawns of implacable geometry, the 17C castle, the cellars and the creamy and fragrant bushes of Gruaud Larose rosebushes created in 2016 in honor of the king of wines and wine of kings. Further on, south side, Branaire-Ducru and Beychevelle. Even further, the paluts or wet meadows along the river. On the west side, the Jalle du Nord and the Port-Bouey farm, where the sheep for grazing graze.

At the age of 27, the grandson of Anthony Barton, 88 years old and youngest son of Lilian Barton Sartorius, is one of the new faces of Saint-Julien with his sister Mélanie. As if the family of Irish origin still relishes the recent pride of Château Léoville Barton’s ranking (2016), for the title of Wine of the year, entirely British modesty obliges, it refuses to do more than is necessary More than two hundred years after the arrival of his grandfather Thomas Barton in 1722 in Bordeaux as a merchant and the acquisition in 1821 by his grandson Hugh Barton of the charming charterhouse of “Langoa” (20 ha of vines) then of the 50 ha opposite which form Léoville Barton, the line is one of the oldest in Saint-Julien. Hired in 1940 as a liaison with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, he found his estate in a deplorable state after the Nazi occupation. In Langoa, the roof is leaking, it is raining in the basins. Ronald offers his nephew Anthony Barton to join him with the intention of bequeathing him the estates. Anthony Barton’s Fine Wines, while tending to the vineyards. Lilian joined him in 1978 and now it’s Damien and Mélanie. A beautiful family story where the traditions perpetuated from generation to generation make the style. Thus,Châterau Léoville Poyferré (80 ha), prestigious 2nd classified growth over which Sara Lecompte Cuvelier has been watching since 2018 following her cousin David Cuvelier. between members of the same family from the Nord who are preparing to celebrate the centenary of the acquisition of the star cru of Saint-Julien.

Because let us not forget that with Léoville Barton and Léoville Las Cases (98 ha), the three current Léovilles formed only one in the beginning. In other words, the largest wine estate in the Médoc in the 17C. Knights, marquis, nobility, immense fortune. The French revolution goes through this, forced immigration, requisition by the State, fair division between the heirs who ultimately tear each other apart. Expropriations and quarrels forever get the better of the land and the Charterhouse, split in two. About 3/5 of the former domain and, its original heart. A 55 hectare enclosure surrounded by walls at the exit of the village of Saint-Julien-Beychevelle on the way to Pauillac. Here, closely glued to the Château Latour vineyard, venerated Premier Cru of Pauillac, from which it is separated only by a jalle or small stream, the Grand Vin de Léoville Marquis de Las Cases flourishes. An iconic Médoc, 2e grand cru considered as a 1er. What it probably would have been if family bickering had not played their part in the 19C. But this hybrid status is not to displease; for consumers, Las Cases is a cheaper Premier Cru. For merchants, a 2nd which costs skin and bones.

This is a bit more on the Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, the 2019 vintage and one of my favorites chateaux of the Médoc. Château Ducru-Beaucaillou obtained tremendous marks from various critics who came to taste the vat. The owner Bruno-Eugène Borie presents an extended range. Before, there was Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, the estate’s illustrious first wine. There is now Madame de Beaucaillou, from its Haut-Médoc lands, a fruity initiation wine that should be drunk young, the guarantee of a signature for 10,000 cases per year. And then there is always La Croix Ducru-Beaucaillou, a second, which does not have the name but above all a high-end, powerful, and fragrant cuvée. Next to it, we find Le Petit Ducru, the third wine of the family, whose 2019 present very round and silky tannins. These wines, very precise and very pure, can be consumed now or later. It is technical progress and the production of perfect berries that have given them the possibility of making it. A good range, a nice commercial arsenal indeed!

All these changes should be crowned with the erection of a new cellar, XXL size, intended to accommodate the grapes from 105 hectares of vines of which 95 are planted. They are going to associate it with a solar farm, and will also use hydrogen energy . A little further on, six giant fans are waiting for a frost alert. An army of metal blades which, once deployed in the vineyard, can raise the temperature by 2 ° C. The huge area dedicated to agricultural equipment, where tractors and various machines are arranged in their garage like Formula 1 cars in their stand. For the image, there is still the castle, an old Gironde house to which a Directoire façade was added during the 19C, then the park, with its gazebos designed for courteous games and joyful tasting. The interior of the main building has just been redesigned, superb, in tune with the times. It has huge rooms where the works acquired over time by Bruno-Eugène Borie stand. We meet Bacchus and Hermès there!! Gorgeous indeed!

And let me run down the 2016 vintage that I now drinking on some of them , of course, only in special occasions these merits them. Hope you enjoy them.

Château Ducru-Beaucaillou 2016 (2e cru classé). The smooth, full and ample attack gives way to a fleshy, voluptuous and caressing palate. Racy, the wine combines sophistication, density and remarkable finesse. A sculptural red!

Château Gruaud Larose 2016 (2e cru classé Prodigiously tasty, this wine of remarkable depth combines aromatic intensity and complexity. Of rare elegance, it still stands out with ultra-fine tannins, a very fresh finish, with great drinkability.

Château Léoville Poyferré 2016 (2e cru classé). Full and fleshy on the attack, the wine quickly shows its beautiful acidity. The palate is complex, fruity, spicy, powerful, with a fine and elegant tannic structure, a nice tension on the finish, on notes of liquorice, cassis and black cherry.

Château Léoville Barton  2016 (2e cru classé). Slender, pulpy, the cuvée delivers flavors of ripe black and red berries, showing a perfect balance around noble, racy and melted tannins, of a vibrant, tangy, wonderfully gourmet intensity.

Château Branaire-Ducru  2016 (4e cru classé). Crunchy fruits, grandiose, fleshy palate and smooth tannins contribute to the tremendous success of this charming vintage in which everything blends harmoniously until the very straight, juicy finish, boosted by an infusion of acidulous fruits (blackberry, blackcurrant, black cherry …)

Château Beychevelle  2016 (4e cru classé). Elegance, sensuality, delicacy and complexity guaranteed for this great wine enamelled with fruity and spicy notes. Sacred distinguished, supple, precise, supported by very fine tannins, it leans on a fresh, endless finish.

Château Talbot 2016 (4e cru classé). Colorful, it gives off floral and black fruit scents. First round, rich and crunchy on the palate, it then reveals itself, once rested, with incredible finesse and flavor. Noble tannins coated in a velvety texture. We really want to come back.

Château Langoa Barton  2016 (3e cru classé). Smoothness, roundness and suppleness combine with a certain tension, with notes of raspberry, currant, mocha and spices. Ultradiscrete, racy, the tannins envelop themselves in a creamy, melting texture. Very long, bright finish on lingering tangy red berries.

Château Lagrange  2016 (3e cru classé). This beautiful vintage skilfully combines generosity and good acidity on the finish. A complete wine, endowed with a dose of power reinforced by soft, silky tannins, a very long, peppery, liquorice, fruity finish.

Château Saint-Pierre 2016 (4e cru classé). The almost black dress with purple highlights announces the concentrated mouth after a supple and round attack. Texture of great finesse, rich mouth feel, salivating, with flavors of ripe fruit and minerals. A very beautiful cuvée without roughness, homogeneous, with integrated tannins.

And there you go folks, the Saint Julien in the Médoc of my belle France. Hope you enjoy the post as I did telling you about it. En Vino Veritas!!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

2 Comments to “Some wine news from the Médoc!!!”

  1. Very fond of Saint Julien

    Liked by 1 person

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