If I remember correctly, the last time we tasted Chateau Tayac wines was on a very cold winter day , somewhere in early march . This was at Caves Fillot , a wine store in the Gentilly, a Paris suburb . We wanted to pay a visit to the estate while in the region , so , after having called , we stopped during one of our wanderings north of Bordeaux , after taking the small Lamarque-Blaye ferry ( still big enough to handle a few cars ) . The estate sits along the Gironde river, in Saint Seurin de Bourg, between Blaye and Bourg, dominating the river at an altitude of 54 meter , quite exactly where the Dordogne and the Garonne merge into the Gironde . Good point of view, I guess, to look at the Mascaret, this once-a-year ( in september ) big wave going up the river and wich attracts each year hundreds of surfers ( not that this is such a big wave, but still a nice way to surf upstream a few miles inland ) and onlookers . Even apart from the Mascaret , tides here move the river up and down 5 meter everyday .
As we reached Chateau Tayac immediate vicinity , even before we parked on the Chateau grounds , we saw two tractors working in the vineyard on the slope between the road and the river . I took a few pics and I learned later that this young woman (picture above) and the man on the other machine (lower picture) were working on Tayac's vineyard . She was plowing the ground between the rows , and he was carefully plowing close to the vineroot , with a different tool . The road wich runs along the river at mid distance between the Chateau and the river bank has been built in 1966, and the authorities who decided to build this D669E1 road, a variant of Departementale road D669, bear the responsability of having destroyed very good vineyards in the process . It echoes similar stories today where for the sake of gaining a mere 30 minutes time in a train trip from Paris or Lyons to the mediteranean coast, new tracks are built in Provence for the TGV, destroying in the way hectares of quietness and vineyards... The why of this road here was not very clear , but it seems it could have been asked by the french customs agency at the time to have a better surveillance of the river traffic .
See the Gironde river beyond (Red Stem Merlot, also here).
We'll learn later that these tractors were working on the best plots of the property : Red stem Merlot ( "Merlot a Queue rouge") grape variety , a pre-phyloxera variety that they discovered through their own research and massal selection back in 1967 . This variety can be found also in Chateau Petrus and other great properties in Bordeaux. Clay-calcareous soil on the plateau part ( 30 cm clay, then, the rock ) .On the slopes to the river, sandy soil with lots of gravel and alluvium in the upper layer . When you look at the river , you see on the side an old tower, a sort of watch tower , which was built by the "black prince" during the 100 years war ( 1350-1415 ). The Estate is in one block, 30 hectares, cut in two by the road . High standing vines, to better catch the sunlight . Here, they keep the leaves and don't follow the trend to cut off the leaves . This allows not to chaptilize, and here they reach 13° naturally . Hand harvest . 50 persons for that purpose, but they don't sleep on the property . They consider the possibility of using mechanical harvesters in the future as hiring people ( recurrent french problem ) is a headache and a lot of worries and administrative paperwork . At that time of the year, they are obliged to hire someone just to take care of all the administration-imposed paperwork... Long time ago, on this plot under the road , there were only white grape varieties : Muscadelle, Sauvignon, Pinot Blanc, Colombard Blanc... Red varieties were planted here in the 1960's .