Here we are, in La Conseillante, an estate in the eastern-central Bordeaux wine region .
Our last visit in the area was 2 years ago, we visited then a few estates which rarely allow visitors . My wine journal was not started yet, and the experience was not shared online .
This time again, we visited a few chateaus, thanks to the insightful selection of Jean Marc Quarin, a renowned taster and analyst of Bordeaux wines .
So, we start our day with La Conseillante, a 12 hectare ( in one block ) vineyard in the Pomerol Appellation, wich is the smallest App. in Bordeaux ( 750 hectares altogether ) . The winery is owned by the Nicolas family since 134 years . It literally lies along Cheval Blanc.
Patrick Arguti, chai master since 2001, greets us at the door . We spend a few minutes in front of the chai, listening to his presentation of the estate . Right in front of the building lies a newly planted Merlot plot
[ see picture above and on left ] , wich replaced a 60 year old Malbec plot . Its grapes will be inserted in the production in about 4 years . The distribution right now is 80% Merlot & 20% Cabernet Franc , grouped around the chai buildings . Average age is 40 years . Harvested manually ( duration about one week ) with 30-40 persons . The students who come to harvest at La Conseillante eat and sleep in the estate's buildings . This is a week or two of very hard work, but very festive too, and it is not uncommon that they go to sleep at 3 am even though they have to wake up early in the morning for another day in the vineyard ...
To choose the right day for the harvest, there are multiple tests and checks for acidity, pH, etc... Samples are brought to the lab, then the oenologist decides when to start the picking . Patrick Arguti says that at La Conseillante they don't look for very tannic wines, but instead for fruity, delicate wines with elegant tannins . By the way , he says in 2004 they were the 1st to harvest around here . Their customers want this style of wine . The grapes are still harvested at a ripe stage, but not too much ripe . JMQ adds that Merlot is a fragile grape variety, and that a 48 hours difference can mean the loss of its aromas . This is the philosophy and approach at La Conseillante . The other philosophy is close to Michel Rolland's, and looks more straightly for more tannins .
While we speak, a machine sulphate-sprays a nearby plot . In the Bordeaux region, due to the high humidity and frequent rains, spraying is common . This is the type of region where the weather changes in a matter of hours, but with a permanent feature : humidity .
The technical side : Shaking tables since 2001, to sort out the grapes, also a destemmer and a stemmer de-piper that can be fine-tuned precisely . Then a second shaking table . All this, adds JMQ, makes a difference that can be checked in the nose of the wine : No green elements, wich explains the purity of the nose , more on the fruit and less on the vegetal side . This said , he adds, you can still make great millesimes with green fragments and leaves left with the grapes.... Wine is such a mystery...
We now go to the tasting room :
__1 La Conseillante, Pomerol 2004 "Heritiers Louis Nicolas" . 37,5 sample bottle . Violet on the nose, B. says . There are some tannins, but thin ones . Not marked by wood . This is because of the structure of the wood, and also because of the wine itself : A meager wine will get more of the woody imprint . Liquorice on the end . Spicy .
__2 La Conseillante, Pomerol 2002 . Delicate 1st nose . JMQ says there is a hint of cocoa nut and crystallized orange . He says these two exotic aromas can also be found in the nearby Cheval Blanc wines . Tannins barely noticed . 13,5° . At the end of the maturation stage, fining with egg-white, wich refines the wine and removes the woody side . Delicate and elegant wine . About yields in the estate : 2001, 45 hectoliter/hectare ; 2002 , 30 hectoliter/hectare ( small millesime in volume ) .
__3 La Conseillante, Pomerol 2001 . Carafed . Nice nose . JMQ thinks the 2002 had a stronger nose . More tannic , he says ; with a round attack, a visitor adds . I ask a question about how well the wines are exported . 70% is sold in Europe, including France, with Belgium and UK as main customers . Some in the U.S. and other countries . Click on the link, then on a flag, for the importers .
__4 La conseillante, Pomerol 2000 . Very good year, very ripe too . Warmer side, more on tannins than on the fruit . This wines dates from before Patrick Arguti, as he began to work here in 2001 ( He was previously at Pavie, in Saint emilion ). This is the former style of La Conseillante . Still , JMQ says, the wine improved, in comparison with when he previously tasted it .