Late in January, prior to my MW seminar in Bordeaux, I had the opportunity to visit a few wineries with a friend and fellow MW student - Stefan Metzner. One of the visits was to Château Petit-Village in Pomerol. I didn’t know much about their wines… and what a great surprise it was! Not because of the walk we had in the vineyards (not much walking, as it was extremely muddy from all the rain they were getting in the past days), not even because of the visit to the cellars (which was nice!), but what made it so remarkable was the wines we tasted. That combined with a great conversation with the person responsible for the winemaking of such great wines – Marielle Cazaux (their technical director ) – made January 31st, 2014 a very special day…
Château Petit-Village is going through a major process of replanting in the vineyards to improve the quality of their wines in the future. The immediate result is a considerable reduction of the production of their Grand Vin. The good news? While the quantity goes down, the quality goes up as only the grapes from the old vines are used for their GV! As a result of the low yields that old vines usually offer, more concentrated juice is produced…
They are located in Pomerol. So what that means in terms of grape varieties used in their blends to make the wines? It means that most of their vineyards are planted with Merlot (in their case, about 3/4 of the vineyards). The rest is planted with Cabernet Franc (18%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (7%).
Merlot from Pomerol is not your usual “juicy and easy to drink beverage”. Combined with the two Cabernets, it has enough structure to put in a firm frame all the red-berry fruit, cassis, dried herbs, and exotic spices that you find in the wines.
And they can be rich, silky and fresh…
Some critics don’t like to use the word “delicious” to describe a wine. I’m not sure why… To me it isn’t fair if, possibly, the best quality of the wine is not mentioned…
The best wines from Pomerol are the true definition of #delicious!
Our tasting was in this room with a beautiful view of the vineyards. Does it make the wines taste better? Possibly… but I don’t think it was the case this time. That day was rainy and dull.
We had a vertical tasting of their most recent vintages and we could clearly see the difference between the years. However, they all had a pure character, a common thread that made them somehow “siblings”. Why is that? What gives this very specific style to a winery? Is it the “terroir” or is it the winemaking? Probably a bit of both? Hard to tell… but all the wines were showing great purity of fruit, nice integration of the oak, and very good balance. Even vintages defined as mediocre by some famous journalists! (not to be confused with vintages that were defined famous by some mediocre journalists…)
My favorite of all the wines we tasted that morning was the Château Petit-Village 2007. This is what they had to say in their own tasting note: “A dark, ruby red color. An extremely expressive, complex nose with notes of black fruit and violets, of remarkable freshness and purity. In the mouth, the wine is straightforward and extremely precise. The tannins are firm but refined and velvety. A wine that combines freshness and elegance.” I couldn’t agree more! This wine is really fresh and elegant! Amazing silkiness on the palate.
If you like wines that don’t punch you like a heavy-weight boxer… but rather caresses your face like a gentle breeze… (are you getting the picture?), this wine is for you! The other vintages are variations on the same theme: Elegance and balance. So you can make the choice of the vintage… And here is my super secret advice: Pick the vintages that were named “terrible” by the critics. They are cheaper and they will please you as well!
Château Petit-Village is open to individuals and groups (25 people maximum) every day by prior appointment for a visit of the vineyard and technical facilities, followed by a tasting session of two vintages of Château Petit-Village. The visits last approximately one hour and it costs 6 euros (reduced rates for groups). A shop is also open to their visitors (languages spoken: French and English). Going to Bordeaux? Don’t miss this opportunity to visit this great Château!
Founder of the #winelover community – Institute of Masters of Wine candidate. Combining his passion for wine with social media, he is a judge at international wine competitions, wine educator and communicator.