SME: Collaboration and respect
SME accreditation means following best practices with respect, not just for the vineyard but also being aware of the impact on adjoining neighbours and the local community. This will ensure that those working in the industry are living in the safest and healthiest environment possible. As a result, schoolchildren are being invited, alongside neighbours, to visit the vineyards and discover how the estate is being managed. The visits cover wastewater effluent spray regimes, the chemicals used and when there are plans to spray. For pest control, the ‘sexual confusion’ method is generally preferred where pheromones are sprayed to confuse the males.
Château Cantin Wine Tasting – 13 Châteaux
We are at the table, spittoons and enthusiasm at the ready – eyeing up a wonderful selection of LGCF wines – all available to buy in the UK via distributors such as Waitrose, Oxford Wine Company, Ocado and more. I can honestly say they are all superb. Here they are:
- Château Beauregard 2015: Pomerol. 100 Merlot. Fruity, spicy and complex with aromas of red fruits, mocha and blackcurrant.
- Château Cantin 2016: Saint Emilion. 97% Merlot. 3% Cabernet franc. Full-bodied, balanced and persistent with notes of cherries and liquorice.
- Château de Cartillon 2015: Lamarque. Wines currently in barrel. 46% Merlot, 31% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Petit Verdot. Ruby red blackberry flavours.
- Château Faizeau 2016: Montagne. 94% Merlot, 6% Cabernet Franc. Full-bodied, balanced, persistent with notes of black cherry jam and liquorice.
- Château Haut Mouleyre Red 2017: Escoussans. 100% Merlot. Full-bodied, balanced and persistent with hints of raspberry jam and cocoa.
- Château Haut Mouleyre White 2018: Escoussans. 50% Sauvignon Gris, 50% Sauvignon.roundness and a refreshing acidity with notes of exotic fruits and a long finish.
- Château Jacques Blanc 2015: Bordeaux. 85% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc: very tasty, fruity and elegant wine.
- Château La Fortune 2016: Bordeaux. 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 45% Merlot. Supple and balanced mouth with notes of blackcurrant jam and liquorice.
- Château La Roche Organic 2017: Bordeaux. 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Fresh, dense with present and harmonious tannins.
- Château Le Peuy Saincrit 2015: Bordeaux. 100% Merlot. Silky, delivers blackberry and chocolate aromas.
- Château LeStage Simon: Bordeaux. 84% Merlot, 16% Petit Verdot. The wine has a full-bodied, balanced and persistent mouth with notes of blackberry jam and liquorice.
- Château Peyredoulle: Bordeaux. 73% Merlot, 20% Petit Verdot, 7% Malbec. Well balanced, persistent, and delicious notes of red cherries. It has a long finish.
- Vieux Château de Combes 2016: Bordeaux. 93% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc. Wine is supple, balanced and persistent with notes of cherries and cinnamon.
Chateau Soutard Wine Tasting and Overnight
Our tasting complete, we head over to Château Soutard just a few metres from the centre of St Emilion village. This stunning château – approached by an avenue of linden trees – dates back to 1513 and is one of the oldest properties on the Right Bank. It first rose to fame as a vineyard in the mid-1800s and is now owned by French insurance company Mondial. The beautiful 30-hectare estate is planted 63% Merlot, 28% Cabernet Franc, 8% Cab Sauvignon and 1% Malbec. The full-bodied flavours are thanks to the rich limestone plateau the vineyard is planted on.
Completely renovated – both inside the château and all the wine-making facilities – by architect Fabien Pedelaborde, the state-of-the-art cellars are magnificent with chandeliers the centrepiece and shiny steel vats. Plus a very Bond-like cave tasting room.
Inside the mansion house, the exquisite public rooms are warm and inviting, and include four bedrooms, two seminar rooms, a library, reception rooms and beautiful gardens to explore. Château Soutard has received prizes for its wine tourism programme.
We are staying overnight and my bedroom on the first floor is something out of Versailles. Wide-canopied, high four-poster, wonderful fabrics and prints, and dreamy bucolic views from the large windows over the Château Soutard estate.
Over a superb dinner, I chat with Jean-Marc Dulong, the Director of Crus et Domaines de France, along with Adeline Tanguay Brand Ambassador of Château Soutard. Both share how wine tourism is opening up the once-private and often secretive Bordeaux wine estates to a wider public. The benefits are increasing visibility for the vineyards and a greater public awareness of the sustainability projects in hand.
Wine Tasting Château Soutard
We savour the following wines:
- Château Soutard 2016: St Emilion. 63% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Franc, 2% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Malbec. Ripe and velvety. Elegant and full-bodied texture balanced with the freshness of black and red fruits with a subtle citrus note in the finish.
- Château Grand Corbin Despagne 2011: St Emilion. 70% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Franc, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon. Sweet black currant and black cherry fruit are interwoven with hints of incense and crushed rocks.
- SO Sauternes 2016: Bordeaux. 75% Sémillon; 25% Sauvignon Blanc. A good body and a nice structure to finish with a very pleasant tension. Ideal served fresh as an aperitif.