Monday, October 16, 2017

Tasting at Château Pertignas with Vincent Gauthier

It was not the most beautiful day in Bordeaux as we headed out into the vineyard with Vincent Gauthier at Château Pertignas. Unlike our visit the previous day where the vines were still loaded with Merlot grapes, here we were viewing a just picked vineyard following the harvest.

As we walked through the vineyard Gauthier discussed the difficulty he had with the 2017 vintage which was caused primarily by the heavy frost at the end of April. This weather hazard had significantly reduced his yields. After the high quality and high quantity 2016 vintage, he is estimating that his production for 2017 will be about one-fifth of the previous year.

He said he believes the quality of the surviving fruit to be quite good and ushered us to an outside tank for a taste of freshly fermenting Sauvignon Blanc which tasted of sweet citrus. We then headed inside for a tasting of the current releases.

The tasting:
Pertignas en Blanc Priolet Bordeaux Blanc 2016 - This drink-now white wine is made from Sauvignon Blanc. It is light, dry and aromatic with fresh citrus and a slightly bitter pithy note on the finish.

Pertignas en Blanc La Borie Bordeaux Blanc Semillon 2014 - A more serious white with some aging ability, it is made from 100% Semillon from old vines which is then aged in neutral barrels. Rich and dry with honeyed aromas, juicy acidity and a lingering tropical finish.

Rosé de Pertignas Bordeaux Rosé 2016 - This wine is made with 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Merlot. It is dry with fresh and fruity mixed berry aromas and mouth filling flavors.

Chateau Pertignas Bordeaux Supérieur Cuvée Vin de Copains 2015 - A blend of 60% Merlot, 20% Carmenere and 20% Petit Verdot, this dry red wine is easy drinking, fruity, soft and round with a spicy finish. Gauthier recommended it be served slightly chilled.

Chateau Pertignas Bordeaux Supérieur Cuvée Spéciale 2015 - This blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot is dry with ripe berry aromas and flavors, grippy tannins and a spicy note in the finish.

Chateau Pertignas Bordeaux Supérieur Cuvée Fût de Chêne 2014 - This wine is 55% Merlot and 45% Cabernet Sauvignon from old vines which is then aged in barrique. It is dry with velvety tannins, ripe aromas and rich flavors of plum and red berries with a bit of dried herbs and a mineral note in the lingering finish.

My favorites of the tasting were the La Borie Bordeaux Blanc Semillon and the Cuvée Fût de Chêne. I thought the Cuvée Vin de Copains served slightly chilled as suggested would be a delicious pairing with Texas barbecue. All six of these wines are recommended.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Château Pabus - Tasting in Bordeaux

During a recent media tour set up by Planet Bordeaux, our group headed to Château Pabus in Sadirac for our first on-site tasting of the trip. The 19th century chateau and vineyard were purchased by New York financier Robert S. Dow at the suggestion of his daughter due to his love of Bordeaux wines. After extensive searching throughout the region, the property was chosen for both its history and its future potential.

In 2012, Dow asked Belgian winemaker Kris Couvent who was the property's former owner to help manage the estate with the help of wine consultants Michel Rolland and Bruno Lacoste. The goal was to bring the 6.47 hectare or sixteen acre vineyard area to peak health using no herbicides while using what they call rational cultivation techniques like encouraging natural grass cover crops. The vineyard soils are a mix of silt, sand and clay and are planted with 85% Merlot some of which is pictured on the right and 15% Malbec. They are planted at a density of 5,500 vines per hectare, all of which is harvested by hand.

A new winemaking facility was also built along with a vat house addition and an outdoor tasting terrace to take in the vineyard views. The new construction reflects the modern vision for the Château's future. We gathered up there after our tour of the property for a vertical tasting of the chateau's wine.

The tasting:

Château Pabus 2012 - Lush, juicy, rich and balanced, very drinkable.
Petit Pabus 2013 - Soft, charming, red fruit character with a hint of freshly tilled earth.
Château Pabus 2014 - Leaner, more linear structure with chewy tannins and a spicy finish. Planet Bordeaux ambassador, Michael Madrigale made the comment that there was "a pureness to the fruit" in this glass.
Château Pabus 2015 - Big tannic structure, more muted aromas and flavors, not quite ready to drink yet.
Château Pabus 2016 barrel sample - Oak nuances and fruit are not yet integrated. This wine will go another six months in barrel before it is ready to be bottled.

The team's commitment to quality at Château Pabus is apparent on the property and in the glass, enjoy the top three now and lay down the 2015 for a treat at a later date, all are recommended wines.