After lunch Clyde, Mark, Kerri, Ali and myself set off for an afternoon of tastings in the Graves region. We arrived at Château la Mission Haut-Brion just in time to meet up with the rest of the party fresh K&L Bordeaux contingent (Ralph, Trey, Alex and Steve) who had just flown in from Paris.
Originally constructed in the early 16th century amongst a pastoral setting, today the grand domaine of Château la Mission Haut-Brion is surrounded by the city of Bordeaux suburban sprawl.
On stony, gravelly soils, its approximately 21 hectares, (52 acres) are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc in the A.O.C. of Pessac Leognan.
Directly up the road from La Mission is the entrance to Château Haut-Brion, which is one of the 5 first class growths anointed in the 1855 classification. Similar to La Mission, the Château Haut-Brion vineyards also lie on gravelly soils interspersed with mounds of clay. Approximately 48 hectares (119 acres) are planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot,Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. Just under 3 hectares (7.1 acres) are planted to white varietals, which include Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.
As both Château Haut-Brion and Château la Mission Haut-Brion are presently owned by Domaine Clarence Dillon, our tasting that afternoon included the 2010 releases of wine from both of these domaines.
Here is a rundown of the wines that we tasted:
Château La Mission Haut-Brion
2010 La Chapelle de la Mission Haut-Brion
2010 La Mission Haut-Brion
2010 La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc (formerly known as Laville Haut-Brion Blanc)
2010 Le Clarence de Haut-Brion (formerly known as Bahans Haut-Brion)
2010 Haut Brion
2010 La Clarté de Haut-Brion
2010 Haut-Brion Blanc (only 500 cases made!)
For a complete vintage report as well as tasting notes of all the 2010 Bordeaux that our team tasted, check out the 2010 K&L Bordeaux report!
Our visit concluded with a brief tour of the grounds and chai, which includes this magnificent barrel room., which along with the formal tasting room, was completely renovated in 2007.
Our next scheduled tasting that afternoon was at Château Pape Clément . In addition to being ranked as a Premier Cru in the 1959 Classification of Graves, this venerable domaine also holds the title as the oldest wine estate in Bordeaux.
Its vineyards were first planted in the year 1300, by Bertrand de Goth and perhaps more famously known as Pope Clement V. At the time, only red wine grapes were planted to the vineyards. In case you are wondering, this is the same (of French origin) pope who moved the papal court from Rome (actually he never left France) to Avignon for a period spanning 67 years (1309-1378).
During this period, also known as the “Babylonian Captivity”, Pape Clement V’s successor John XXII erected the famous castle in the winegrowing region known as Chateauneuf-du-Pape (the pope’s new castle).
Fast forward about 8 centuries and Château Pape Clément is still going strong, this time under the ownership of Bernard Magrez, the French wine magnate who also owns also owns Château La Tour Carnet in the Haut-Médoc. In the photo above, Monsieur Magrez can be seen tasting wine in the far left corner of the room. The gentleman in the blue shirt next to him is the domaine’s consulting oenologist, Michel Rolland.
Our tasting here included not only the 2010 releases of Pape Clement but an introduction to many of the estates that Magrez has developed and owns across the globe which include Spain, Chile, Argentina and California.
For more photos of Château Pape Clément’s beautiful grounds and glorious past please check out Les Photos to the right.
As our first tasting day wound down, it was time to head north to our “crash pad” for the next several evenings. About 45 minutes north of the Graves in the A.O.C. of Saint-Estèphe we arrived at Château Ormes de Pez. This illustrious domaine is presently owned by the Cazes famille, who also own Château Lynch-Bages.
This beautiful estate and its grounds are where we unpacked our bags, changed into something more comfortable, and toasted to our first day in Bordeaux!