Isabelle is our guide and meets us as we walk to the buildings . Marc duvocelle [ picture on the left ] , the vineyard supervisor , joins us . He has been working here since 17 years . We spend a few minutes with both of them along the vineyard . The soil is a mix of sandy and stony soil, and the vines root 5 meter to 13 meter deep . Like the rest of Medoc, where the Pauillac Appellation area is located, this is a collection of thick hills, "croupes" as we say here, with usually a stream ( jalle ) between them . These streams play a draining role in the hydrous system . The latitudes of the best vineyards in the region respect the hydrous factor, and they are always located at the top of the hills . An important aspect is, the closer you get from the Gironde's mouth ( the atlantic ocean is very close ), the thicker the gravel will be . JMQ points to the translation of the soil nature into the wine : Saint Estephe ( north Medoc_close to the river's mouth and very stony ) : Thick tannins ; Saint Julien ( mid-level Medoc ) : Medium tannins ; Margaux ( southern Medoc ) : Thin tannins .
Here in Medoc , we are in Cabernet Sauvignon's kingdom . Minimum 50% in plantation , and minimum 60% in the blending . Isabelle says the quality of the wine at Puy Lacoste comes from the soil . work in the vineyard is thinning, and we saw young people doing it at some distance . Also green harvest . The Chateau's vineyards are in one block, cut in two parts by the stream and its wooded stripe . Quite steepy to that stream : 16 meter altitude difference between the plateau, where we stand , and the nearby stream . The whole property lies on 90 hectares, of wich the vineyards make up 55 hectares .
Francois-Xavier Borie, the estate's manager, joins us .
I don't know if it has to do with the tonic coastal air ( permanent light breeze, here ), but I suddenly feel hungry . Wine-tasting-in-the-vineyards lesson #1 : Always bring something to eat when you're on this sort of expedition, cheese, saucisson, bread, whatever ( dont listen to the experts that will bar most of the food for annihilating the wines...) . Having anticipated, I brought something ( I'll not tell you what ) and ate it frantically after offering some of it to B.
The chai is a nice sleek place with big stainless vats, most between 189 and 215 hectoliter capacity . Made by Pierre Guerin Technologies ( 79210 Mauze, France ) . Horizontal press ( Bucher ) . And a traditional cask cellar, with natural conditions ( no air-con ), in an old building with thick walls . They just ventilate lightly . We walk into a second casks cellar . Nice space too . That's where I took Mr Borie's picture . Mostly 2004 wine in the casks . All the 2002 is gone by early 2005 . And 2003 was just bottled recently .
To the nice clear tasting room now . View on two sides of the room, on the vineyards, and on the woods down the slope .
__1 Chateau Haut Batailley Pauillac 2004 . Sample from a cask . Located 1,5 km from here, near the Pauillac/Saint Julien border . Fine nose . Fruit . Nice mouth . Tannins only on the end of the mouth, I would say . Discreet Cabernet Sauvignon , JMQ says : Never too powerful, with soft tannins . Goal they wanted here : keep the drink easy . They could opt for more extraction, but this is not what they look for . 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot here . No Cabernet Franc in the assemblage this year . After 3 minutes in the glass, really fruity nose .
__2 Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste Pauillac Cru Classé 2004 . Sample bottled from a cask . Fresh nose . Same assemblage, only with 2% more Cabernet Sauvignon . Some wood mixed to the fruit, JMQ says . Well balanced between the attack, the middle and the end of the mouth . Straight to the finnish . You don't feel the tannins coming . Typical straight style of Cabernet Sauvignon .
__3 Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste Pauillac Cru Classé 2002 . Carafed . 13° . "Grand Cru Classé en 1855", the label says . Ample nose . Very, very nice nose here, creamy, says JMQ . He says the 2004 should do even better, with the same age . In the mouth : Suave , silky . No micro-oxygenation . Only some racking . Same style of work as in La Conseillante .
__4 Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste Pauillac Cru Classé 2000 . JMQ notes some animal notes ( on the meat side ) here . In the mouth, it glides smoothly . No tannins felt here, no granulation . And it also lasts . Mr Borie tells us about the cask quality . He says the fine-granulation oaks from Allier ( a departement in central France ) are the best . Here, they use casks from three cooperages : Taransaud , Seguin-Moreau, and Nadalie ( wich is located in Medoc ) . Great visit .
Chateau Grand Puy Lacoste, 33250 Pauillac, France
Phone : 33 5 56 73 16 73
Fax : 33 5 56 59 27 37