Deep color and delicate bouquet, as well as a softness typical of Pomerol and a generous, powerful side reminiscent of Saint-Emilion are the hallmarks of the wines of Château Le Bon Pasteur.
This extraordinary complexity results from the mosaic of identities of its 21 cadastered plots in the Pomerol appellation, to the French border of St. Emilion.
The Pomerol appellation encompasses a multitude of micro-terroirs. What makes Château Le Bon Pasteur, with a total surface area of 6.7 hectares, so unusual is that it is located on the border between two world-famous regions: Pomerol and Saint-Emilion. As opposed to the great châteaux of the Médoc, the vineyard is not in a single block, but spread out over 21 plots. This patchwork of terroirs accounts for the wine’s considerable complexity, deep colour and delicate bouquet, as well as a softness typical of Pomerol and a generous, powerful side reminiscent of Saint-Emilion.
Château Le Bon Pasteur’s wide range of different geological profiles includes clay-gravel and gravelly-sand, deep gravel, and a subsoil of sandy molasse or clay molasse (called molasse du Fronsadais) with traces of crasse de fer (ironpan). The complexity of these various terroirs is accentuated by the varying depth of topsoil, different sun exposure (south and southeast), as well as the gradient and type of subsoil that determine natural drainage.
Each plot of vines has unique characteristics calling for tailor-made attention. The “Caillou” plot, planted entirely with Merlot and located 200 metres from Pétrus, is one of the key components of Le Bon Pasteur. The clay-gravel soil overlays a rare blue clay subsoil that is found only in Pomerol. Rich in iron, this terroir absorbs water when it rains, thus avoiding an excess supply to the roots. Conversely, during hot dry weather, the blue clay loosens and releases water to nourish the vine roots, even deep down. This naturally-regulated system enables the Merlot vines to produce wines that epitomise this variety’s intrinsic concentration, velvety texture, and great delicacy.
The “Pomerol Maillet” part of the vineyards features Cabernet Franc vines an average 40 years old. This variety is early-maturing here thanks to the clay-gravel-siliceous soil. This tendency towards early-ripening reduces the risk of rot during the rainy month of October in Bordeaux. The Cabernet Franc vines from this part of the vineyard produce fresh, spicy, and very fruity wines that are also balanced, structured, and show good ageing potential.
Other plots, poetically named “La Maugarde”, “Le Barrail”, “La Chichonne”, “Chantecaille”, and “Troque”, are also located in the hamlet of Maillet, which has no centre as such, but rather climats like in Burgundy. Our winemaking team takes great pains to adapt to each of these climats. Thanks to our technique of vinification intégrale (alcoholic fermentation in 225 litre barrels), we can target optimum ripeness down to the smallest parts of the vineyard.
Everything has started rather well: abundant rainfall during winter allowed the soils to gain their water reserve. In spring flowering began in the first days of June, it was very fast and very homogeneous which was favored by perfect weather until the end of June. At this stage, expectations were high for the quality of the new vintage. Unfortunately, in the month of July, the weather was unstable and vineyards focused on their beautiful foliage rather than on the growing of the grapes. It took constant vigilance deployed early to make green harvest (leaf removal and thinning) to help the grapes to reach optimum ripeness. Then finally came the happiest ending: it was as if nature wanted to apologize! Early September the beautiful weather was with us again and lasted until the end of the harvest. We were able to wait and harvest plot by plot (a luxury we have not known for several vintages), the grapes were perfectly ripe.