Pomerol

Pomerol 

 

Between St Emilion and the market town of Libourne lies the 800 hectares of the tiny Pomerol appellation. It's not a particularly impressive place in terms of natural beauty but no matter! It's rich, dark clay soils nurture Merlot grapes into the most expensive and rare wines in the world. Pomerol's are just so seductive with their plummy, chocolatey, smoothness and earthy minerality. Here is home to the famous Chateau Petrus which can trade for £30,000 a case in good years. This small estate has a unique slice of terroir that other Chateau would dearly like to own.Chateau Petrus As they can't, they have to snuggle up close to it but 5 or 6 others also make wine of a similar standard. Lafleur, Le Pin and Vieux Chateau Certan are well in contention, with Trotanoy, L'Evangile and La Conseillante not far behind. As well as the special terroir, the limited bottle quantities and the trendy 'garagistes' style of vinification, has led to Pomerol wines becoming prestigious luxury goods amongst the rich. Thankfully there are still some cheaper chateau in Pomerol but they are quite hard to find! Some of these can be a bit mediocre as well...terroir is everything.Le Pin Head down a hill a bit and you can be talking between £20 & £1000 a bottle and a huge jump in quality. Of course most people don't realise this and many end up paying over the odds for average Pomerol...there is no classification system here so one can't be guided by that as a consumer. Pomerol has also been championed by the great wine advocate Robert Parker who has lavished some very high praise and scores on certain properties. He undoubtedly calls it well, but has so many trade and collector followers worldwide that supply never satisfies demand for the top wines. The Chateau can therefore charge whatever they like and yet still prices rise on the secondary market. Of course money is no object for some and they are unlikely to be disappointed by a £3000 bottle of Petrus in a restaurant. It is one of the finest branding sucesses in the world and is without doubt exceptional wine. For myself at TBC, I've never sold it for fear of not recognising a fake and then unwittingly dealing it to someone. There are plenty of unsavoury characters out there churning out fake Petrus! Even the makers of it can be fooled! Also the worry of turning up a flawed bottle dosn't sit well with me...and I know too that one can spend a fraction of the cost of Petrus for wine of similar breeding and taste. I worked hard at finding my favourites...oh what a chore...NOT! ConseillanteWell a case of 12 La Conseillante in a good vintage can start around £600, then rise in price afterwards - £100 a bottle easily. It is very special though and worth splashing out early to then savour for special occasions. The 2005 was just off charts but even in the decidedly average 2007 vintage they made fantastic wine here. There's 12 ha under vine with 80% Merlot & 20% Cab Franc. It's a sleek and highly polished example of a top Pomerol. I really like the 6ha of vines that produce Chateau Clos L'Eglise too. Clos L''EgliseI had a decent amount of the 96 and this was great old school Pomerol that was soft as butter and light too. You could buy this for around £30 a bottle but the estate was sold in 97 and a lot of money was spent fashioning it into a premier Pomerol. It's richer now in every way but worth a daliance! (£60 a bottle). Its distinctive simple yellow label is one of my favourites in Bordeaux. I don't think too much about why...It just works for me!! OK Petrus is pretty cool too. Perhaps my favorite Pomerol in terms of value for money (without a particularly cool label) is Chateau Rouget. It comes in around £20-£30 a bottle if you are quick off the mark, even in the best vintages. The famous wine consultant Michel Rolland has been involved here in recent years and RougetI've come to realise that I love the modern style wines he makes a lot. Plenty of oak is present but it's sweet & spicey too with heaps of my favourite Bdx aroma...woodsmoke! Below this price range you are pressed to find over achievers though I have had good experiences with Chateau Plince, Chateau La Point and occasionally, but not always with Chateau de Sales I was thinking of championing Chateau Croix Taillefer too but Waitrose got there first! It's worth remembering too that, similarly to St Emilion, Pomerol has a treasure chest satellite AC called "Lalande de Pomerol". I'm really still feeling my way around here so if you find a gem, be sure to let me know about it?! It's a large enough region to find one as it's bigger than Pomerol itself. Chateau de Chambrun is good one for sure - £20ish a bottle though so the serects out already. La Graviere likewise.  Back in Pomerol one Chateau that customer popularity has influenced my huge (not!) buying power @ TBC is Chateau Gazin. The 2008 was one of the wines of the vintage for me though previous vintages hadn't particularly wowed me. I did dabble though and always sold out so perhaps I missed something? I do love having my mind changed by quality. You always need to keep your wits about you when you're making your way through a tasting table of 400 Clarets...