Helene is a young and smiling woman . In spite of our delayed arrival , she jokes with Jean Marc Quarin, thanks to whom this visit takes place . She acquired Clos L'Eglise in 1997 . Her family began to invest in wineries in 1991 , and was not involved in the wine field before . The first one was Haut-Bergey , then Clos L'Eglise . All of them are small size, high end estates with carefully selected vineyard plots, and the owners have the will to show the expression of their different terroirs and soils .
Haut-Bergey is a 25 hectares estate, with roughly 65% in Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% in Merlot ( and a little bit of Sauvignon and Semillion ) . Branon : 6 hectares, 50% Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot ; Clos L'Eglise : 6 hectares , 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc ; Poesia, in Argentina : 13 hectares, with 60% Malbec & 40% Cabernet Sauvignon .
Patrice Leveque joins us as Helene opens the bottles for a tasting, in a corner of the chai . The first bottles are samples taken from the casks . All of them are reds, except the last one .
__1 Chateau Haut-Bergey, Pessac-Léognan 2004 . Nice nose . Some hints of smoke also, JMQ says . Resin, too . In front of us, the 60 hectoliter tronconic vats, from Seguin Moreau [ see the glimpse on its inside, on the right ] . They were bought in 1997 and are used for vinification . Primeur 2004 price for this wine : 19 Euro . Note that the owners are among the few in the Bordeaux region who quit the somehow-antiquated negociants/wine dealers network (an odd specificity of the Bordeaux wine market which has its roots in History) and decided to sell directly to the customers .
__2 Chateau Branon, Pessac-Léognan 2004 . 50% Merlot here . The rest in Cabernet Sauvignon . Of the 6 hectares, only 3 hectares are exploited right now. This is one of the oldest estate of Léognan . Acquired in 1996 . Partly replanted . The estate is also home to the oldest stone press of the region . They say that the terroir over there is complicated but fascinating. 6000 bottles yearly. JMQ points to a major difference with the previous wine : Wider in the mouth. Tannins are very discreet. Hints of pine needles, he says. Primeur 2004 price : 56 Euro .
__3 Chateau Barde-Haut, Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2004. Homogeneous terroir in this 17 hectare estate. amphitheatre shaped. Clay on 20 cm, then limestone, calcareous undersoil. Very different indeed. 90% Merlot blending. It has the creamy nose of Merlot. And 13,5° at least, they say. Liquorice. Very different texture for a Merlot. The limestone gives this texture and this longer final, like if it had much more Cabernet Sauvignon in it . External yeasts and temperature control . Primeur 2004 price : 23 Euro .
__4 Clos L'Eglise, Pomerol 2004. Here is the Pomerol Merlot... Great in the mouth . Extra well rounded. Great nose too, JMQ says, delicate caramel aromas . 80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc . Great wine , it melts in the mouth . Primeur 2004 price : 65 Euro .
On the tactile side, JMQ says, it is superb . About the way they work : They pick the grapes sooner than the other estates around . Also they have a different style of work done in the vineyard . A big difference is also they have the only old non-grafted vineyard there . Their philosophy was to make a wine which would not be too much on the new world style, like the chilean wines can be, for example . Argentina has an older wine culture, like 500 years, maybe .
Their Argentina wines are very well noted by the international wine media . Good customer base in the world, as far as Japan . 20 000 bottles yearly . Plus, they love the place, and fly every 3 months there . Also, the warmer weather conditions help them to learn the work in these latitudes, which could give them a lead in the increasibly warmer weather met in Europe these days . All the technology was imported from Europe, the casks coming from Berthomieu and small cooperages in Burgundy . They are very demanding about the quality of the wood . they select the wood first, and have it shipped to the cooperage to make the casks . The casks used at Poesia are 300 liter ones . Manual harvest in flat boxes . Sorting tables . Cold temp fermentation . Cap punching . Assemblage just before bottling . The only price I have is for Poesia 2002 : 35 Euro .
__6 This bottle was not planned . Nice gift . Haut-Bergey Pessac-Léognan 2001 . JMQ says everybody should have this wine in his cellar ! Great nose . He points to the high maturity of this wine, coupled with its depth . There are tannins, but we don't feel them , they are melted . You don't spit that wine, even in a tasting ( I could say that for several wines... ) . He says this wine is better than many Crus Classés . Price for wine merchants is 16 Euro w/o tax , same for individual buyers . A steal .
__7 Clos L'Eglise Pomerol 2001 . Another great tasting gift . Fine and neat nose . Very nice . Elegant . Life is beautiful ... JMQ points to the melowness . It gently slides in the mouth . My price sheet says 120 Euro for this one .
__8 Haut-Bergey, Pessac-Léognan 2004 White . Their only white . 8000 bottles a year . 2 hectares Sauvignon . Very difficult to make a white wine , he says .
70% Sauvignon , the rest in Semillion . Mango and grapefruit aromas . JMQ adds : also hints of boxwood and nettle . Suave wine . 48-50 hectoliter/hectare . This year, it should have lower yields, like 30ho/ha, with the shorter pruning and cluster thinning .
Thank you Helene and Patrice for your welcome and for sharing your wines and your passion with us...