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Travels Through Bordeaux

Inside the 13th Century Chapel at Chateau d’Escurac

It was an exciting trip to Bordeaux that will fruit our fall season with the addition of a number of Left Bank Chateaux.  For five days, Patrick Burke, our French Portfolio Director, and Mark Rizzuto, our NJ sales rep, travelled the Left Bank to visit with the estates that will join our book in the fall.  And since our representation of Bordeaux has up to this point been limited to the Right Bank, through our relationship with Jean-Luc Thunevin, we are VERY excited to extend the reach of our French Portfolio to the Left Bank of the Gironde.

On the search for small family-owned and operated producers who were looking for entry into the U.S. market, Patrick visited with and secured our relations with nine different Chateaux. “These producers are right up our alley,” said Patrick.  “They’re family-owned sustainable or organic producers who are environmentally conscious.  From Haut-Médoc to Médoc, we got to taste estates with micro-terroirs.”

Beginning in Médoc with Chateau d’Escurac, whose wines are classified amongst the Médoc fifth growths, Patrick and Mark met with Jean Marc Landureau, whose family has owned the estate since 1934.  A well known Médoc label who sells their wines on the futures market, Chateau d’Escurac has gained notoriety and Parker points.  In addition to this Chateau, Landureau also owns Chateau Haut-Myles, which is located down the road.

At Chateau Beau-Site

In St-Estephe, they visited Chateau Beau-Site–owned by the Castéja family since 1955–with vineyard sites overlooking the river on gentle slopes, at the bottom of which sits Chateau Calon-Ségur.  Sitting atop one of Medoc’s highest points, Beau-Site has an 18th century underground cellar, which is one of the oldest in Médoc. Originally classified as a Cru Bourgeous supérieur in 1932, Beau-Site is at the northern-most extreme of St-Estephe appellation and has been classified as a Cru Grand Bourgeous Exceptionnel since 1966.

From Paulliac, we acquired the wines of three chateaux, including Chateau Batailley, one of the oldest estates in the Médoc.  A 5th Grand Cru Classé of the classification of 1855, Chateau Batailley is named for a famous battle site of the 100-years war with England (1453) which helped the French acquire Bordeaux from the British.

Known as “Chateau Batailley’s little brother”, Chateau Haut-Bages Monpelou  was originally linked to the Rothschild-owned Chateau Duhart-Milon, from which it was separated in 1950.  Purchased by Marcel Borie in 1948, the Chateau is currently owned by Borie’s son-in-law, Emile Casteja, who also owns Batailley.

Mark enjoys a glass of Chateau Batailley Grand Cru Classé 2004

Also in Pauillac, Chateau La Fleur Haut Carras is owned by “a local farmer who’s a genuine salt of the earth guy,” said Patrick. With limited production and 20 different parcels in Pauillac, he farms organically, and has access to many subsoils that neighbor a number of star Chateau including Lafite and Mouton.

Moving south to Central Médoc, they visited Chateau Lestage-Darquier, a family estate that was founded in 1868.  An estate with a 8ha vineyard that sits atop a gravelly hill, Lestage-Darquier was acquired by Brigitte and François Bernard in 1982.

In a tiny village in Margaux sits Chateau Le Coteau, owned by Eric Léglise, an organic farmer with 11.6ha under vine.  In an area where the larger chateaux have been “swallowing up all small family producers,” said Patrick, Léglise is one of eight small producers left in a village that used to have twenty. “His wines are gorgeous,” he added.  “He doesn’t need an export market…it’s a matter of carving out a 50 case market.”

Stay tuned for more when the wines arrive in the fall!

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