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The name “La Conseillante” appeared in the middle of the 18th century, when the influential Catherine Conseillan, who owned the property, decided to endow the estate with her name.
In 1871, the Nicolas family acquired La Conseillante, whose surface area (12 hectares – 30 acres) and plots have not evolved since, enabling the estate to hold on to its exceptional qualities. In 1960, Louis Nicolas’ heirs formed the Société Civile des Héritiers Nicolas company. In 2001, the organisation of the company progressed by recruiting an Estate Manager. Then in 2003, a Family Council was formed.Since 1st February 2010, the Family Council of La Conseillante has had three members, Docteur Bertrand Nicolas, co-Managing Director since 2001, Jean-Valmy Nicolas co-Managing Director since 2010 and Henri Nicolas.
Today, the fifth generation of the Nicolas family manages the estate, symbolising the long-lasting attachment of this family to a great wine.The Family Council’s role is to supervise the Estate Manager’s activities and to take part in strategic decisions, such as futures sale prices, allocations, investments, dividends and promotional activities. The Nicolas heirs are identified on the label, which has sloped corners and a silver border surrounding the coat of arms inscribed with the letters “LN”. The violet-coloured capsule is a reminder of the aroma and characteristics of the wine. These parts of the design chosen by the Nicolas brothers in 1871 remain elegantly modern in the 21st century.
For the 140 years that it has existed, Château La Conseillante has thus benefited from long-lasting, unwavering support from the Nicolas family, helping it to express the best of its terroir, one of the greatest in Pomerol. One of its characteristics is that no member of the family lives with income from the property.
The robe is slightly aged, but still displays intense depth. The nose is distinct, unveiling superb aromatic complexity, distinguished by notes of varnished wood, plums and blackberries. Next, the nose reveals plenty of fullness and charm, a sign that the keeping of this wine is only just beginning.
An early, even flowering, a warm but unspectacular summer and an exceptionally hot period during the end of August and the first half of September. It was this heat that made it possible for the record harvest to not only to fully ripen, but also to concentrate the fruit. The harvest started on September 14 and was finished before heavy rains commenced on October 2. Another reason for the success of the vintage was that most châteaux had invested in their cellars and were able to work such a large and hot harvest. It was now possible to control the fermentation temperatures better than in earlier hot vintages, such as 1947. The grapes produced wines with such high natural alcohol that chaptalization became unnecessary. They showed deep colour, high and unusually soft tannin levels and a better acidity than first thought, as well as great fruit concentration. The media hype was great, particularly thanks to the advent of new wine magazines - this was the vintage that cemented Robert Parker’s reputation. The prices rose rapidly and have not looked back since. I remember all Premier Crus (including Pétrus) being offered to end consumers for around 50 euros en-primeur in 1983.
The scene when the 1990 vintage came along was quite different. There was a surplus of very good to great wine on the market – for the first time there was talk of three great vintages following one another. This lead to most châteaux lowering their prices by about 20 per cent compared to their 1989 prices, even though the quality was outstanding. There had been a steady increase in prices during the 1980s, but they were now more or less back to the opening prices of the 1982s. It was again a record harvest, but because most châteaux had by now introduced a ‘second wine’ and due to the fact they were more selective with regards to quality, there was actually less wine being bottled as ‘Grand Vin’ than in 1982.
We have been following both these vintages from a comparatively early age, as they were both precocious and easy to drink from the start. The top wines from both vintages are spectacular, but the overall quality is much higher in 1990. Here the wines were equally successful on both sides of the river, and even minor châteaux produced something special. We have always found most 1982s from the right bank to be too alcoholic and lacking in structure; indeed many are now ageing rapidly.