A lovely estate on the west side of Pomerol, Château La Grave dates back to the early 19th century. As indicated by its name, the soil is almost pure pebble. The vineyard marks the beginning of the one mile long gravelly strip which crosses the plateau of Pomerol, then Cheval Blanc and ends at Château Figeac. La Grave could be considered the equivalent of a third growth in the Médoc and ranks amongst the top Pomerol. His very first personal acquisition, Christian Moueix purchased the estate in June 1971 and gave a great deal of attention to the restoration of the château, cellar, and vineyard. Today, as part of the Ets Jean-Pierre Moueix properties, it receives the same meticulous care as the other family’s top châteaux.
The illustrious and famed Bordeaux negociant firm of Ets. Jean-Pierre Moueix was founded in 1937 and holds exclusive rights to sell and manage some of the greatest vineyards on the right bank of Bordeaux. The properties of Jean-Pierre Moueix can be found in the appellations of Pomerol and St. Emilion with each estate being carefully selected by Christian Moueix. The Moueix family have defined a style of winemaking distinguished by integrity and total devotion to the expression of each individual vineyard.
85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc
A strict and merciless parcel selection precedes the harvest which is conducted entirely by hand, vine by vine, and often bunch by bunch. A sorting table is used systematically to assure a selection of only the healthiest grapes. Vatting and maceration are conducted according the needs of the vintage; racking into barrels is immediate following fermentations in a minimum of 50% new oak. The wines are clarified (racked) by hand every three months and remain in barrel for 18 months before bottling.
Red garnet color with a dark hue. The nose is discrete at the beginning and becomes intense with a nice purity after it opens up. Small red fruits, fresh cherry and currant aromas are very pleasant. The palate is already very smooth and silky with round tannins perfect for a great evolution in the bottle.
BORDEAUX 2019 VINTAGE
When I was visiting Bordeaux early March, Corona was a threat on the horizon and France has been more concerned by a strike of the air traffic control. However, I was travelling to Bordeaux and had the chance to get some first insights to the 2019 vintage. I was very much looking forward to the “en primeur tastings” which were scheduled for March 26, 2020 but the tastings were cancelled mid-March. Immediately I contacted the different associations and wineries in Bordeaux and asked for samples.
The result was a small number of wines which arrived in Essen before the shutdown of France made shipments rather difficult. These first samples of the vintage 2019 were tasted under pristine conditions to assure a fair and equal assessment of all qualities. In fact, the samples proved right the opinion of some of Bordeaux’ leading figures. Bruno-Eugène Borie from Château Ducru-Beaucaillou sees 2019 in a line with the excellent vintages of 2016, 2010, 2009 und 2005.
Henri Lurton talks about his best vintage, along with 2016, he has ever vinified at Château Brane-Cantenac. Philippe Dhalluin from Château Mouton-Rothschild asses the vintage as rich and abundant in quality and also in quantity. After some smaller crops they came back to an average production.
Emmanuel Cruse from Château d’Issan sees that 2019 has a lot in common with 2016 yet preserving more freshness. It is a very good vintage but appearing at a very difficult time on the market. In fact, the start of this vintage was very positive. Enough precipitations during winter were retained by soils like chalk and clay. Vineyards on these water retaining soils had a huge advantage in the future growing period. With exception of a wet June, the vintage has taken advantage of a rather dry climatic condition, which prevented diseases in the vineyards to a huge extend. No chance for powdery or downy mildew. Even the heat waves were not really harming the vines as rain set in, always at the last moment but still early enough to prevent massive water stress and a slow-down of the maturity. The late physiological maturity brought a lot of alcohol, but the wines show more freshness as in the previous years.
Fabien Teitgen, Winemaker of Smith-Haut-Lafitte relates this freshness to the good acidity “due to cool night temperatures during the ripening period”. This fact is also good news for white wines. „They are the big surprise “, says Olivier Bernard of Domaine de Chevalier.
At Château Coutet in Barsac, Philippe and Aline Baly were harvesting in three passes with a total of 19 harvesting days. They judge the conditions as rather ideal: “These climatic conditions have generated a harvest whose quality is indisputably present.” Same samples made their way to Essen and I have tasted them. Some more samples are announced and will hopefully arrive during the current week. There will be a weekly update of my tasting notes, whenever samples will arrive.
Unfortunately, 2019 arrives in a difficult time, the Corona virus puts the world in fear and makes trade more and more difficult. Trade berries and new customs duties create a difficult frame for this vintage. However, we should not forget one thing: there are wonderful 2019s waiting for us, wines with ageing potential and charm which will survive every crisis.