Early afternoon , under a bright sun . We park in front of Chateau Laroze chai buildings . Guy Meslin, manager since 1990, meets us and presents the estate . This Saint Emilion estate was founded in 1840 with 15 hectares and has now 30 hectares of vineyards . His family ( the Gurchy family ) can be traced as far as 1540 . It was then active in the rope industry in Libourne . One of the descendants invested in the wine business, buying a first company ( a maison, we would say ), and at one point owning 5 different wine related businesses, including this estate .
Located at the foot of the hill, the soil here is sandy on the surface, with a clay layer ( named here "marne de castillon" ) underneath . He says the terroir here is interesting for wine : Silica brings elegance, and clay brings structure . The clay layer retains the water, so they worked on drainage, improving the existing drain systems and setting up new ones . This is something you don't see when you look at the vineyard, he says, but these 2 meter deep drains radically improve the quality of the soil on the viticulture perspective . The hydrous aspect is , with the soil compostion, one of the main pillars of quality wines . And this factor can be greatly optimized by human intervention, thanks to modern engineering . At Chateau Laroze , extensive new drains were put in place between 1997 and 2002 . This is a keystone at Laroze, and they devote a lot of attention to it . The varieties repartition is : 68% Merlot , 26% Cabernet Franc, 6% Cabernet Sauvignon . With the different respective yields, the wine will have 80% Merlot . The data sheet says medium age of the vineyard is 20 years . Harvested by hand, in boxes . On the viticulture side, they try to work the cleanest way they can : No chemical fertilizers, with a philosophy close to biodynamy's, even if they don't adhere to an existing chart . They keep the possibility to spray if really necessary . But they make their own natural compost, wich matures slowly till november, and then spray it on the vineyard . They may also occasionally sulphur-spray against oidium .
__1 Chateau Laroze Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classé 2004 . Liquorice nose . JMQ says the first sip does not count ( plus , this is the first wine of the afternoon ) . Structured wine, very well rounded, he says . I would not say the same on the rounded side, though . I agree on the density, the firmness . Even served a little colder than it should, nice mouth , even if the cold makes tannins appear more present than they are . Still, I think it will be better to drink it after more laying down . 13° alcohol .
__2 Chateau Laroze Saint emilion Grand Cru 2003 . Bottled not long ago ( spring 2005 ) . Powerful undergrowth aromas on the nose . Nice one . Brilliant mouth . Even the attack is dense, JMQ says . Creamy . Very tasty . Coated feeling . He says this is a great wine that gets high scores on blind tastings . The odd thing is this wine is quite unknown . 2003 harvest was 2,5 weeks in advance, due to the heat wave : Sept 4 to 12 . Yields were 24ho/ha .
__3 Chateau Laroze Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classé 2002 . 13,5° alcohol . Carafed, and non-carafed : We taste both . Curiously, the non carafed has a more present nose . Better intensity . But the gap between the two disappears after a minute or two . Nicely on the fruit for both . The decanted one is more softened, and broader . Yields were very low this year too : 23 ho/ha .