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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.
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.